Vinegar is the crowning glory in this dish. The vinegar-soaked chicken finished off with a vinegary sauce may be excessive, and you’d be right. But there’s nothing wrong with a little excess; as Mae West said, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.” And that’s what this dish is: mouthwatering, addictively tangy, and wonderful.
- For the vinegar chicken:
- 2 cups distilled white vinegar
- 1 cup sunflower oil, plus more for frying
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 10 dashes of Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce
- 1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 4 pieces (2 whole breasts and 2 whole legs)
- For the Alabama White Sauce:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Make the vinegar chicken:
- In a blender, combine the vinegar, 1 cup of the oil, salt, cayenne, chipotle pepper sauce, smoked paprika, black pepper, and garlic and blend until smooth. (Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender to blend the marinade.) Pour the marinade into a gallon-size plastic bag and toss in the chicken pieces. Marinate the chicken in the fridge for 12 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and pat them dry with paper towels.
- Pour 1/4 inch of oil into a large ovenproof skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, arrange the chicken in the skillet, skin side down. The chicken should fit snugly in one layer. Loosely place a square of parchment on top of the chicken and weight the chicken down with a medium ovenproof skillet or heavy pot. Allow the chicken to cook under the weight of the skillet undisturbed for 20 minutes.
- Take the skillet off the heat and carefully (it will be hot!) remove the top skillet (or heavy pot, if using). Flip the chicken, transfer the skillet to the oven, and roast until thethickest part of the thigh registers 165°F, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Make the Alabama white sauce:
- In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, and pepper. The white sauce should be thin and runny. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. You can keep any leftover sauce in the fridge for one week.
- Let the roasted chicken rest for 5 minutes. Arrange it on a platter. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.