Chefs' Recipes

Dan Pepperell's fried chicken alla diavola

Chicken wings, Italian style.

By Dan Pepperell
  • 1 hr preparation
  • 40 mins cooking plus pickling, fermenting, marinating
  • Serves 4
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Fried chicken alla diavola
"I like to think that if there was an Italian family living in Tennessee watching the Super Bowl on TV right now, this is what they'd be eating," says Dan Pepperell. Begin this recipe three to five days ahead to make the giardiniera, ferment the chillies and marinate the chicken.


  • 4 each chicken Marylands and chicken wings, preferably free-range
  • 600 ml buttermilk
  • For deep-frying: vegetable oil
  • 500 gm (3 cups) plain flour
  • To serve: shichimi togarashi (see note)
  • 1 green jalapeño chilli
  • 375 gm (¼ medium) cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 100 gm (½ medium) each red and yellow capsicum, thickly sliced
  • 60 gm (½ medium) carrot, thickly sliced with a crinkle cutter
  • 500 ml (2 cups) white vinegar
  • 45 gm caster sugar
  • 2½ tbsp sea salt flakes
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp each black and Sichuan peppercorns, coriander seeds and mustard seeds
  • 1 dill sprig
Diavola sauce
  • 100 gm (about 6) long red chillies, coarsely chopped
  • ½ tsp caster sugar
  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 50 gm butter, diced
  • 25 ml fish sauce
  • Pinch of xanthan gum (optional; see note)


  • 1
    For giardiniera, heat a char-grill pan over high heat and grill jalapeño, turning occasionally, until charred (10-12 minutes). Halve lengthways and place in a 1-litre sterilised jar with remaining vegetables. Bring vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic, spices and 250ml water to the boil in a saucepan, then pour over vegetables, seal, cool to room temperature and refrigerate for 3-5 days to pickle.
  • 2
    For diavola sauce, combine chilli, sugar and ½ tsp sea salt flakes in a snap-lock bag, seal, squeezing out the air, and leave in a draught-free place for 3-5 days to ferment. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add garlic and sauté until light golden (3-5 minutes). Stir in fermented chilli and cook until liquid evaporates and chilli starts to fry (3-4 minutes), then add butter and 150ml water, and bring to the boil. Add fish sauce, remove from heat, then process in a blender until smooth. Add xanthan gum and blend to emulsify. Keep sauce warm.
  • 3
    Cut chicken Marylands into drumsticks and thighs, then place in a plastic container with chicken wings and buttermilk, and refrigerate overnight to marinate.
  • 4
    Bring chicken to room temperature and heat oil in a deep-fryer to 160C. Place flour in a bowl and season to taste. Remove chicken from buttermilk, coat well in flour, shaking off excess, then deep-fry in batches until golden-brown and cooked through (7-7½ minutes; be careful hot oil may spit). Place chicken in a bowl, pour diavola sauce over, toss to coat and serve scattered with giardiniera and shichimi togarashi.


Note Shichimi togarashi, a Japanese spice blend, is available from Japanese grocers and select Asian supermarkets. Xanthan gum is available from health-food shops; you can leave it out, but it creates a thick sauce that coats the chicken well.
Drink Suggestion: "2013 Monastero Suore Cistercensi Coenobium 'Ruscum' from Lazio, an orange wine made by nuns," says sommelier Matt Young of 10 William St.