Tea-Brined and Double-Fried Hot Chicken

Serving Size: 4
Total Time:

The brine gives the chicken a delicate, sweet flavor. After frying the chicken until it’s extra-crispy, it's tossed in a sweet-and-spicy sauce of molasses and gochujang (Korean chile paste).

Ingredients

  • 8 cup sweet tea
  • 1.5 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 0.5 cup Wondra flour
  • 1.5 cup all-purpose flour
  • canola oil, for frying
  • 0.5 cup lard or 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 Tbsp sorghum molasses
  • 3 Tbsp gochujang (see Note)
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • 0.5 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise, plus 3 cloves
  • thyme sprigs
  • 0.5 cup kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 cup seltzer

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups of the sweet tea just to a boil. Add the 1/2 cup of kosher salt and stir until dissolved. Add the thyme, halved garlic head, lemon slices and the remaining 4 cups of sweet tea and let cool completely, then refrigerate until well chilled, about 45 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken to the brine, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours or up to 48 hours.
  3. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the 3 garlic cloves with the gochujang, molasses and cayenne and puree until a paste forms. Add the lard and puree until smooth. Season with salt. Scrape the chile mixture into a very large bowl.
  5. In a large saucepan, heat 3 inches of oil to 350°. Set a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Spread 1 cup of the all-purpose flour in a pie plate. In a medium bowl, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour with the Wondra flour, cornstarch and a generous pinch of salt. Whisk in 3/4 cup of seltzer until a thick batter forms, adding more seltzer if needed.
  6. Dredge 4 of the chicken pieces in the flour, tap off the excess and transfer to the rack. Dip 1 piece of chicken at a time in the batter, let the excess drip back into the bowl and add the chicken to the hot oil. Fry the chicken at 350°, turning occasionally, until pale golden and crisp, about 8 minutes; transfer the chicken to the rack. Repeat with the remaining 4 pieces of chicken.
  7. Return the first 4 pieces of chicken to the hot oil and fry at 350° until golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 165°, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate. Repeat with the remaining 4 pieces of chicken. Add the 8 pieces to the very large bowl with the chile mixture and toss to coat. Transfer the chicken to a platter and serve right away.

NOTES: Gochujang is available at Asian markets. 24 Hours for brining.

Recipe Courtesy of: Erik Anderson and Habiger
Image Credit: Chris Court

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