Fried Chicken. Not much more to say than those 2 words….
I’m just kidding (not really). Fried chicken is one of my all time favorite foods. Picnics, Family Reunions, Tailgates, Sunday lunches, Breakfast…. 🙂
I can remember years ago as a kid always devouring the fried chicken at our Lexington family reunions. And there was SOOOO much homemade food around that 2nd Sunday in May to make you feel like you gained 20 pounds in 2 hours! Aunt Ivene’s Green Beans, Vida Mae’s Fried Pies, Hilda’s Strawberry Delight… and on, and on, and on. My families very small contribution to that day??? Sweet tea, ice and fried chicken. Not homemade fried chicken…but a KFC fried chicken bucket. Yep…the “dirty bird”. And I loved it. Every last bite of it. And maybe a couple of last bites from someone else’s plate.
So 30 years later, when I visit new cities and new restaurants…if they have fried chicken on the menu…I’m still a total sucker to try it. Last year, one of my BF’s and I went to the South Beach Food & Wine Festival in Miami. Oh. Em. Gee. What a fun trip! And one of my favorite memories of that trip (and goodness there were so many)…My brunch at one of Miami’s best restaurants: Yardbird, Southern Table & Bar. Because of the fried chicken. Ah-Mazing. And now, oddly enough, one of the founders of that South Beach Food & Wine Festival, Lee Schrager, has a new book coming out on May 20, Fried & True, that is showcasing over 50 of America’s Best Recipes & Sides! That trip was clearly fate…..
But I digress. Although I can’t wait for that book to come out or to eat at Yardbird again…I’ll still have to say, my personal fried chicken recipes are always my favorites. It’s simply hard to beat the inspiration of some of your best childhood memories….So here we go.
To get started…the first thing you’ll need to do is make sure you are planning this 1-2 days in advance, because you’ll need to brine the chicken for 24-26 hours in the sweet tea mixture. For the brine, you’ll simply make a normal gallon of sweet tea but with 2 tea bags instead of 1 (I always use Luzianne or Red Diamond), the juice of 1 large lemon, 1 c of sugar, 3/4 c of salt & 1/2 c pepper. Then submerge the chicken legs & thighs in the tea and refrigerate overnight.
After the chicken has been taken out of the brine and patted dry, drop it in the buttermilk and let it soak for at least 30 minutes to an hour. In the meantime, mix up your flour with the cayenne, onion powder, salt, garlic powder & paprika.
Now you’re ready to dredge the chicken. I like to do it in batches of the legs first then the thighs. But you don’t have to. It doesn’t actually do anything except make my OCD go away. Next, you’ll need to let the excess buttermilk drain off of each piece. Then coat it well in the flour mixture on all sides–also shaking off any excess. Let the pieces rest either on a wire rack or on parchment paper for at least 10 minutes. This will help the coating stick better while you fry it. While the chicken is resting…heat the oil to around 325 degrees in a cast iron or deep dish frying skillet. But in my opinion…a well-seasoned cast iron is the best way to ever fry chicken. Then fry the chicken in batches of similar size pieces (about 3-4 of them at most) so they will cook evenly on each side.
I usually cook the legs & thighs for about 10-12 minutes on each side turning 3-4 times to make sure all of the coating is golden brown and chicken is evenly cooked. And start your fry with the skin side down. The most important thing is to not OVER cook so the coating burns or UNDER cook so you get sick. 165 degrees as an internal temperature with a golden brown coating is the goal! Once you get the hang of it after a couple of times, you’ll be a frying chicken like an expert!
Finally, drain on a paper towel to absorb any extra oil then sprinkle with a little salt while it’s still hot!
Serve it with a side of my Grilled or Roasted Potato Salad (click the link in case you missed that favorite recipe), a side of Sriracha Honey and a mixed green salad then you are all set!
I can’t wait to dig in to this deliciousness! Leave me a comment with your favorite recipes and memories..and of course…let me know what you think! Enjoy!
Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Sriracha Honey Sauce
Sweet Tea Brine:
2 Tea Bags
1 c Sugar
3/4 c Salt
1 Large Lemon, Juiced
1/2 c Pepper
Boil 2 quarts of water. Once a rolling boil, add tea bags and remove from heat. Let steep off of the heat for about 10 minutes. Add in sugar, salt, lemon & juice, pepper. Stir until sugar & salt are dissolved. Mix in 2 more quarts of cold water to cool.
Sweet Tea Brine
3 1/2 lbs of Chicken Legs & Thighs, Skin On
1 Cup of Shortening + 1 Cup of Vegetable Oil (There should be at least 2 – 3 inches of oil in the skillet. But no more than 1/2 way up the side of the skillet)
1 quart Non-Fat Buttermilk
2 c AP Flour
1 tbsp Salt + More for Dusting
1/2 tbsp Pepper
1 tbsp Onion Powder
1 1/4 tbsp Cayenne
1/2 tbsp Garlic Powder
1 tbsp Paprika
1. Place Chicken in cooled, Sweet Tea Brine for 24 hours and no more than 26. Store in refrigerator.
2. Discard Brine & Pat Chicken Dry with Paper Towels.
3. Place Chicken in Buttermilk and Let Soak for 30 min up to 1 hour.
4. Mix Flour, Salt, Pepper, Onion Powder, Cayenne, Garlic Powder & Paprika while Chicken is in Buttermilk.
5. Remove Chicken from Buttermilk & Place Pieces in a Collandar so Excess Buttermilk Will Drain Off.
6. Dredge Chicken Pieces in Flour Mixture, Coating Well on All Sides. Shake Off Excess then Set Aside on Wire Wrack or Parchment Paper for 10 Minutes.
7. Heat Oil in Cast Iron Skillet to 325 Degrees.
8. Begin Frying Chicken in Batches, Starting Skin Side Down. No More than 3-4 Pieces at a Time.
9. Continue Frying Pieces, Turning Chicken 3-4 Times for Around 10-12 Minutes on Each Side until Golden Brown & Internal Temp Reads at least 165 degrees.
10. Place Cooked Chicken on Paper Towels to Drain any Excess Oil.
11. Dash with Salt while Chicken is Still Hot.
12. Drizzle with Sriracha Honey when Ready to Serve.
2 tbsp Honey
1 tbsp Sriracha
1 tsp of Water
Mix ingredients together for desired consistency and flavor. There is really no recipe for this…just what your tastebuds like! If you don’t like the thickness of the sauce, just mix in drops of water to loosen the sauce.