Chef’s Table: Les Marchands’ Lemon Brined Fried Chicken

Posted on Mar 28 by SEASONS Magazine

LEMON BRINED FRIED CHICKEN With Crispy Fingerling Potato, Sugar Snap Peas, Carrots and Sausage Gravy. Photo and recipe courtesy Les Marchands.

Chef Weston Richards’ career in the culinary world began more than 16 years ago at Santa Barbara’s Sage & Onion. From there, he quickly made his mark at Wine Cask and its sister restaurant Intermezzo, creating dishes to complement a Wine Spectator Grand Award winning wine list. Soon after, he founded the critically acclaimed Spare Parts, a locals’ popup favorite. Richards was integral in opening Les Marchands, his current home, and has directed the culinary program for more than four years. His menu is heavily influenced by his travels in Italy, where he spent time in Rome, Tuscany and Naples, and by North African cuisine, particularly from Morocco and Tunisia. Chef Richards creates diverse and seasonally inspired menus for dinner and weekend brunch, along with an extensive offering of cheese and house-made charcuterie.

LEMON BRINED FRIED CHICKEN With Crispy Fingerling Potato, Sugar Snap Peas, Carrots and Sausage Gravy. Serves 4.

Lemon Brined Chicken

2 chicken thighs, boneless

Lemon brine

4 cups buttermilk



Clean chicken thighs, removing any remaining cartilage, place in a large non-reactive container and cover with lemon brine. Refrigerate for 12 hrs. Drain brine and cover chicken with buttermilk.


Lemon Brine

4 cups water

3 tablespoons salt

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon rosemary

1 tablespoon black pepper,


3 lemons



Zest lemons using zester or

vegetable peeler, then juice and

remove all seeds. Combine with

remaining ingredients.



1 lb. baby carrots

1 lb. snap peas

1 lb. Fingerling potatoes

1 lb. onions, medium dice

Olive oil

2 tablespoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1/4 bunch thyme

1/4 bunch oregano



Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and clean snap peas. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch snap peas for 20 seconds, remove immediately and shock in an ice bath. Cook onions over very low heat with olive oil and salt to taste, stirring occasionally until caramelized and very soft (one hour or more). Wash baby carrots thoroughly, dry and toss with enough olive oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and place on a baking sheet in one layer. Roast in the oven for 10 min., rotate and cook for 8–10 min. more until they begin to brown. Toss potatoes, garlic, thyme and oregano in olive oil, salt and pepper and place on  baking sheet in a single layer. Roast in oven until very soft; set aside until cool. Using a kitchen spatula or a gloved hand, smash potatoes on a cutting board and reserve for later.



1/2 lb. pork breakfast sausage

2 quarts milk

4 oz. fl our

4 oz. butter

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1-1/2 tablespoons salt


Sear sausage over medium heat until well browned and cooked through. Lower heat, add butter and cook until melted. Add flour and cook, stirring gently, until flour is no longer raw, about 3 min. Add milk in stages, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, and continue to stir until gravy reaches a boil. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce.


Dredge for frying

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cornstarch

Salt and pepper to taste


To assemble as needed

Canola oil for frying


Black pepper

Olive oil





Sauté potatoes in a cast iron skillet with a small amount of oil over medium high heat until golden brown and crispy, remove from heat, season with salt and place on paper towels to drain. Sauté carrots, onions and snap peas until warm, adding a small amount of butter as needed.

Coat chicken in frying dredge, making sure each piece is well coated. Fill a large heavy-bottom pot (preferably cast iron) with oil for frying and bring to 350 degrees. Or alternately, shallow-fry chicken in cast iron skillet. Fry chicken in small batches, season with salt immediately after removing from fryer and lay out on paper towels to drain.

Divide vegetables onto four plates and top with fried chicken and 3 oz. of gravy (or more if desired); garnish with torn basil and sprigs of dill.

This story was originally published in the spring 2018 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.


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