The recipe for Colonel Sanders' fried chicken is locked in a Kentucky safe, but that didn't stop Ron Douglas from trying to unravel one of America's most closely guarded secrets. The culinary code cracker from Glen Cove approached workers at some of KFC's Long Island stores, and even tried bribing them. To no avail. "They don't know the recipe," Douglas said Monday. "The seasoning comes all prepackaged." He persevered - and, after years of experimenting, created what he said is an approximation of founder Harland Sanders' famous recipe. Douglas' recipe is in his new book "America's Most Wanted Recipes," published recently by Simon & Schuster. It includes more than 200 recipes emulating the specialties of restaurant chains including Olive Garden, the Cheesecake Factory and Red Lobster. Douglas, 34, said his fried chicken is "pretty much the same" as the Colonel's. But he stopped short of saying the two are identical. "We've done taste tests, and a lot of people can't tell the difference," he said. "It's very close." The original recipe, which the KFC Web site says Sanders carried in his head until he died in 1980, is kept in a safe in the company's Louisville headquarters. Two companies mix different portions of the spices, ensuring neither knows the formula. KFC Monday dismissed Douglas' imitation recipe. "Plenty of people have tried to duplicate the recipe over the years," said spokesman Rick Maynard, "but there is still only one place to get authentic Original Recipe Chicken - at a KFC restaurant." Hunting down recipes is a full-time job for Douglas, who left a position as finance manager at JP Morgan two years ago after founding RecipeSecrets.net in 2003. He works out of the home he shares with his wife, Nilaja, a human resources manager, and their two children, ages 5 and 2. KFC's secret, Douglas said, is an abundance of Accent, a brand of the flavor enhancer MSG (monosodium glutamate). Still, he said, even with his recipe, a wannabe chef probably couldn't reproduce the KFC formula without a high-powered commercial pressure fryer. "It makes the texture real gummy [and] gives it an aroma that you can smell a mile away," he said. "Most people can't do it at home."
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