As a kid, all Lazarus Lynch wanted was to become an architect.
“I loved art and building things, so being an architect seemed like a viable path,” the television personality and YouTuber explains. That is, however, until he discovered how much math was required.
So instead of designing buildings, he pivoted to cooking and built his own brand: Son of a Southern Chef. He’s long considered himself a representation of that nickname. His father, born and raised in Alabama, ran a soul food restaurant, where Lazarus first fell in love with cooking. Lazarus has since used Son of a Southern Chef as a de facto moniker for himself, found on the cover of his first cookbook and the inspiration of his YouTube channel, where he creates videos and recipes for a small but mighty following.
Son of a Southern Chef, $16.89 on Amazon
The food brimming in “Son of a Southern Chef” is an intricate lens into Lazarus’s upbringing, an amalgamation of his interwoven family, one interlocked with a tangle of cultures. Lazarus’s father is Black southern and his mother is Guyanese and British. Plus, Lazarus was raised in New York City. Meals as a kid meant a diverse confluence of cuisines: collard greens and grits, pig’s feet and Guyanese cheese rolls, bodega sandwiches and bagels.
This heritage and culture is deeply reflected in the roots of his book. You’ll find pimiento poblano corn cakes, rice and peas buried under brown stew chicken, hot catfish sandwiches slathered with ranch dressing—food filling a tapestry woven out of Lazarus’s colorful heritage.
“My food is fun, it’s colorful, it’s unapologetic and visually captivating,” he explains. “It’s queer and Black.”
Because Lazarus is so close to his family, many of his recipes are directly influenced by certain members. For instance, his book includes a recipe for his mom’s split pea and ham soup, a dish that his mom would traditionally make after Thanksgiving. Saving a ham bone from the feast, he stews it with a mix of split peas, vegetables, and spices, crowning it with hunks of pink ham and crunchy green plantain chips.
“My heritage is something special; I come from a very proud people,” Lazarus says. “Yet my heritage as an African-American has many fractured parts. I grapple with those things all the time in my craft.”
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Lazarus notes that for a long time, Black people were only allowed to cook in kitchens—never being seen or heard—just employed for a single purpose of getting a job done.
Related Reading: This Shrimp and Grits Recipe Is a Southern Romance
“But today I cook in front of your face. My name is bold on the television screens, and I share with the masses,” he says. “My grandmother could only dream of such an offering.”
Ahead is a recipe for Lazarus’s spicy buttermilk fried chicken sandwich—one that could knock Popeyes out of business. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are deep fried until crackly, squeezed between potato rolls slick with spicy mayonnaise, and accompanied with all the fixings: iceberg lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, bread and butter pickles, and a dash of hot sauce.
Spicy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich Recipe
Is there anything bad to say about fried chicken? Nah. I first made this recipe on the Today show. One of the anchors, Sheinelle Jones, said it was the best fried chicken she’d ever had, and she wasn’t lying, y’all. I thought I was over the fried chicken sandwich hype until I saw how people were taking to this sandwich on social media. People were tweeting me pics of their fried chicken, and families were completely switching dinner plans to make this recipe instead of going out—that’s when I knew I’d hit a nerve. Watch out Shake Shack, haha!
Spicy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich
- 4 boneless, skinless or skin-on chicken thighs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup your favorite hot sauce
- 3 tablespoons Seasoning Blend (recipe follows)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Canola oil, for frying
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon celery seeds
- Splash of pickle brine (from a jar of pickles)
- Splash of hot sauce
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 potato rolls (I like Martin’s), lightly toasted
- Sliced iceberg lettuce
- Sliced heirloom tomatoes
- Bread and butter pickles
- Your favorite hot sauce
- Make the fried chicken: Place the chicken thighs in a shallow container.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, hot sauce, and 2 tablespoons of the seasoning blend. Pour the buttermilk mixture over the chicken and turn the pieces to coat evenly. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
- When ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a wire rack on top.
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 tablespoon seasoning blend, and the baking powder. Add 2 tablespoons of the buttermilk marinade (what the chicken was soaking in) to the flour mixture and use a fork to mix gently to create small clumps. This will add texture to the fried chicken.
- Fill a cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottomed pot with oil to a depth of 2 inches and heat over medium-high heat to 350ºF.
- Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture on all sides. Shake off any excess flour. Working in batches to avoid crowding the pot, add the chicken to the hot oil and fry until golden brown and crisp on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Once all the chicken is cooked, transfer the prepared baking sheet to the oven. Bake until a meat thermometer inserted into the chicken registers 165ºF, about 10 minutes more.
- Make the spread: In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, celery seeds, pickle brine, hot sauce, and black pepper.
- Assemble the sandwiches: Spread some of the seasoned mayonnaise on both sides of the rolls.
- Pile the bottoms of the rolls with lettuce, tomato, fried chicken, pickles, and loads of hot sauce, then add the top bun.
- 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients. Use immediately or store in an airtight container or mason jar in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month.
Images courtesy of Son of a Southern Chef.