Michael Symon on why you should be cooking with tea -- not just drinking it

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Michael Symon is a celebrity chef, author and television star that you've seen on Food Network, The Chew -- and you may be lucky enough to have tried his cooking at one of his many acclaimed restaurants. His latest venture? Taking his love of tea to a new level.

We sat down to talk with Chef Symon about tea, summer cooking, and of course -- grilling all season long.

No matter if you're a huge tea lover or you opt for coffee in the mornings, you're going to appreciate it even more after hearing all the ways Symon shows us to incorporate it into daily life. He's partnering with Lipton on their Chef's Fest (Learn more at liptonbrightbites.com!) this summer, and for him, it was an organic partnership. "Growing up as a kid," he told us, "my parents always had Lipton Iced Tea. It's a staple in my life — so to work with a company that's always been part of my tradition is natural to me."

Whether you're sitting down for breakfast or dinner, there's always a tea to match. So what does he recommend as the best pairings? First, he said it depends on the person and their personal preferences. But he loves:

Breakfast -- Infused teas like peach

Lunch -- Lipton's Half & Half iced tea (half tea, half lemonade!)

Dinner -- Traditional black iced tea

Read on below for more of Chef Symon's expert tips for summer:

AOL: What's your favorite recipe for entertaining in the summer?

Michael Symon: When I'm having people over in the summer, the key is to keep it simple. Everything can be complex in our restaurant, but at home, I like to focus on things that are easy to make, execute, and will hold well.

Right now I love my Twice-Fried Chicken with Spicy Honey. You brine it with Lipton Half & Half Tea, and then just do the traditional frying method and put honey on top. Put it in a 175 degree oven and hold it -- keep it nice and hot while you prepare sides and other foods -- and it'll stay moist because of the brine you used.

AOL: Umm, that sounds amazing! Do you have any favorite unexpected foods to grill?

Michael Symon: Well you can always go for the traditional grilling with your proteins, but I like to grill pizza in the summer. Grill the pizza dough, then put your toppings on.

The key is having a hot side of the grill and a cool side. Brush the crust with olive oil, and then when it's done, move it to the cool side to put toppings on and then close your grill to melt everything together.

I also love grilling fruits -- this past weekend I took some peaches and grilled them.

AOL: What do you think the biggest grilling mistakes are that people make?

Michael Symon: Well there's a couple. First, they under-season their food. And then they wonder why it doesn't taste good!

Second, letting the whole grill get hot. You're better off getting one side hot and leaving the other cool, that way you can move things over to the cool side when they're done cooking.

Third -- moving things too much. Let the grill do the work for you! Let the char happen, and then flip.

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Can't wait to try Chef Symon's Twice-Fried Chicken recipe? See below for how to make it yourself!

Chef Michael Symon's Twice-Fried Chicken with Spicy Honey

Twice-Fried Chicken with Spicy Honey

By Chef Michael Symon
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 pound whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 4 cups Lipton Half and Half Iced Tea and Lemonade
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 thin slices lemon, seeds removed
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 qt. lard or canola oil, for frying

Spicy Honey

  • 1/2 cup Sriracha
  • 1/2 cup honey

Whisk together and set aside for serving

Directions

Whisk together the Lipton Half and Half Iced Tea and Lemonade, honey, salt, bay leaves and lemon slices. Submerge the chicken in the brine and refrigerate overnight. This can be done in a gallon-sized bag.

The next day remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Discard the brine.

In a large Dutch oven, put enough lard to fill 2 inches up the side of the pot and heat to 340 degrees. Combine the flour, cornstarch, salt, Old Bay, paprika and coriander and dredge all of the chicken pieces in the flour mixture. Beginning with the thighs, add them to the pot, and make sure not to overcrowd. (This may take several batches.)Place a lid on and cook for 3 minutes. Uncover, then flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Remove chicken to a wire cooling rack and repeat with remaining chicken. Once all of the chicken has been fried, heat the lard or oil up to 365 degrees. Add the chicken in batches and cook for 2 minutes per side until golden and crispy. Remove from the pot on to a draining rack or paper towels and serve immediately with Spicy Honey drizzled over the top.

Find more great recipes at liptonbrightbites.com!

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