Wild Garlic Pesto Fried Chicken

Improving fried chicken. Normally I’d say this was a fool’s errand, gilding the lily. But when it involves wild garlic…

Done in 3 hours

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This recipe is a celebration of the best of all the alliums, garlic. Firstly, the chicken is marinated in a pungently garlicky buttermilk, then to be dredged in a garlic powder heavy flour. Finally, post frying, it's served with the greatest of all the garlics, the tender leaves of forager's favourite wild garlic bashed into a pesto. This recipe is definitely the one for you if you like garlic.


Whisk together the buttermilk, salt and garlic. Add the chicken thighs and leave them, covered with clingfilm, for a couple of hours.

Ideally, use a pestle and mortar to make pesto - the texture and flavour is better than if you make it in a blender. Bash the pine nuts until they're all broken up into a gritty powder, then add the wild garlic. Keep bashing until it becomes a bright green sludge with no whole pieces of leaves left.

Add the olive oil, mixing all the time with the pestle to emulsify, then add the parmesan and lemon juice. Season to taste and set aside under a layer of clingfilm to stop the sauce oxidising.

Whisk together all the ingredients for the breading. Take a few teaspoons of the buttermilk mixture and scatter over the breading mixture, this will create little bobbles and help make your fried chicken super craggly.

Take the chicken thighs and dip them one at a time into the mixture, being gentle but making sure every part of the chicken is completely covered in flour. Rest them briefly on a baking tray while you heat up the oil.

When the oil is at 180°C, fry the chicken pieces two at a time. Be gentle when moving them around the hot oil, turning them over after around five minutes - each thigh should be cooked until the coat is dark golden brown and really crunchy, roughly ten mins in all. Serve with the pesto and a cheeky grating of extra parmesan.

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Hugh Woodward

Hugh Woodward

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