With its cooler temperatures, fall is the best season for picnicking in Texas. Pack your basket with some indulgent fried chicken. This recipe offers deliciously crisp crust and enticingly tender meat. A guaranteed hit!
3 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon honey
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 rosemary sprigs
1 bay leaf
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Peanut oil for deep-frying
2 ½ pounds chicken thighs, drumsticks, wings or breasts
¼ cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
In a large food-grade plastic bag, combine the ingredients for the brine. Place the chicken in the brine and seal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Set in a bowl for support and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours, turning the bag occasionally to redistribute the brine and the chicken.
In a large brown paper bag, add flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper, and shake lightly to combine.
Set a cooling rack on a baking sheet.
Heat oil for deep-frying (about 3 inches deep) in a large Dutch oven to 350°F. Working with 4 pieces at a time, remove the chicken from the brine and thoroughly drain off excess. Place chicken in the bag with the flour, fold over to seal, and shake aggressively to coat the chicken with the flour mixture.
Being careful not to overcrowd, add chicken to the hot oil. Cook, turning the pieces occasionally, until they are cooked through and golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to the rack and allow any excess oil to drain from the chicken. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
For butter: combine butter and syrup in a saucepan over medium heat just until butter is melted. Remove from heat, add paprika, and whisk for 30 seconds until the mixture is combined. Pour over chicken when ready to serve.
Note: Can be made a few hours in advance. After frying the chicken, keep it on a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet in a 250°F oven until serving.
MEREDITH STEELE is a recipe developer, food writer, food photographer and author of InSockMonkeySlippers.com, an award winning family food blog celebrating creative and fresh foods. Her recipe development and photography company, MBS Recipe Development specializes in multimedia recipe development for commercial and small business who’s clients include everyone from Ziploc® to small wineries. Meredith’s work has been published online, in various print media, and has been nominated for the SAVEUR awards. She can also be found across the pond writing a monthly column for JamieOliver.com. When Meredith is not in the kitchen, she’s roaming Dallas, Texas with her husband, curly-headed pixie of a daughter, and big floppy-eared dog.