Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with a Sriracha, Honey Sauce

Fried Chicken. Not much more to say than those 2 words….

Sweet Tea Brined Fried Chicken with Grilled Potato Salad

Sweet Tea Brined Fried Chicken with Grilled Potato Salad

I’m just kidding (not really). Fried chicken is one of my all time favorite foods. Picnics, Family Reunions, Tailgates, Sunday lunches, Breakfast…. ūüôā

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…..

Yardbird, Southern Table & Bar--Fried Chicken

Holy Fried Chicken, Y’all–Yardbird, Southern Table & Bar, Miami

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.

Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with a Sriracha Honey Dipping Sauce

Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with a Sriracha Honey Dipping Sauce

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.

Flour Battered Chicken Legs

Thighs in the Buttermilk…Legs in the Flour

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.

Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Sriracha Honey Sauce

Can’t you just hear that sizzle?

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!

Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Sriracha Honey Sauce

Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Sriracha Honey Sauce and a side of Grilled (or Roasted) Blue Cheese Potato Salad

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

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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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.

Fried Chicken

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.

Sriracha Honey

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.

Easy, Cheesy Black Eyed Pea & Artichoke Dip–YES, please!

This dip is so yummy. ¬†And so easy. ¬†And so YUMMY! ¬†And so EASY! It seems like an unlikely marriage…black eyed peas and artichokes? ¬†What? ¬†Who thought of this? ¬†I wish I could take credit. ¬†I wish I could GIVE credit!! ¬†I actually found this recipe years ago in one of the Junior League of the Shoals Cookbooks after tasting this loveliness at one of my BFF’s Wedding Showers. ¬†And I’ve been hooked ever since. ¬†I always have this in my pantry ready to make for parties, weddings, unexpected guests…or most importantly…just for me!

Here is my latest and greatest spin on a classic.

That's a Happy Chip

That’s a Happy Chip

To start…grab up your ingredients. Light Sour Cream, Light Mayo, Sriracha (or your favorite hot sauce), Minced Onions, Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk Dressing Mix (isn’t everything better with Ranch?), Grated Parm, Shredded Mozzarella, Canned Black Eyed Peas & Canned Artichoke Hearts.

First step is to mix up the first 6 ingredients in a mixing bowl. ¬†Whoa…this is going to be complicated, I can tell.

First 6 Ingredients

First 6 Ingredients

Next…wash and drain the peas and artichoke hearts really, really well. ¬†Shall we say that watery dip…is. not. so. good. ¬†NOT that I would know anything about that. ¬†Clearly.

See how those are going to be drained REALLY, REALLY well?

See how those are going to be drained REALLY, REALLY well?

Gosh…now the REALLY hard part. ¬†Dump the drained peas and artichokes into the bowl with the first 6 ingredients. Combine it all, shred the artichoke hearts as you mix, ¬†pour it in a baking pan, top it with the mozzarella and more parm. ¬†Bake it for 30-35 minutes on 350 degrees or until lightly brown, bubbly, gooey, cheesy, yummy…sigh…I’m ready to eat!!

Perfection

Perfection

Dig in! ¬†What are you waiting for?!?!?! ¬†Serve it with pita chips, tortilla chips, Fritos (my personal, all-time fave), eat it with a fork, eat it with a spoon. ¬†What EVER you feel like doing! ¬†I topped this with a little dried parsley. ¬†But chives would work too, *note to self*. ¬†Or add some spinach to it! ¬†Or sausage! ¬†Or Shredded Chicken! There are so many ingredients to have fun with! ¬†It’s just so Yummy!! ¬†And so Easy!! ¬†I think you get the idea.

Let me know how it turns out! Enjoy!

Kicked Up Black Eyed Pea & Artichoke Dip

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Adapted from Junior League of the Shoals–The Art of Cooking

2 cans Black Eyed Peas (Washed & Drained Well)
2 cans Artichoke Hearts (Washed & Drained Well)
2 pkgs of Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk Dressing Mix
3 tbsp Sriracha (Or more or less to taste)
1 c Light Duke’s Mayo
1 c Light Sour Cream
1/2 c Minced Onions
1/2 c Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 c Grated Parmesan Cheese (for topping)
2 c 2% Shredded Mozzarella
Dried Parsley, Thyme or Fresh Chopped Chives
Salt & Pepper to Taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees.  
2. Wash and Drain Well the Peas & Artichoke hearts.  Set Aside.  
3. Combine the Mayo, Sour Cream, Sriracha, 1/2 c Parm, Minced Onions & Ranch Dressing Packets.  Mix well.
4. Fold Peas & Artichokes into the Mixture, Combine Well & Shred the Artichoke Hearts While you Mix.  
5. Pour Mixture into a 9×11 Baking Dish. ¬†
6. Top with Mozzarella and Additional Parm.  
7. Bake for 30-35 Minutes or Until Bubbly and Cheese is Lightly Browned.  
8. Top with Dried Parsley, Thyme or Fresh Chopped Chives.