A marriage of Southern favorites: Our salty-sweet brine of brown sugar and freshly brewed tea infuses this picnic-perfect chicken with juicy flavor before frying. Bonus: The tannins in tea act as a natural tenderizer.
2 family-size tea bags
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, halved
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
2 cups ice cubes
1 (3 1/2-lb.) cut-up whole chicken
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup self-rising white cornmeal mix
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons table salt
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
How to Make It
Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a 3-qt. heavy saucepan; add tea bags. Remove from heat; cover and steep 10 minutes.
Discard tea bags. Stir in brown sugar and next 5 ingredients, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cool completely (about 45 minutes); stir in ice. (Mixture should be cold before adding to chicken.)
Cut chicken breasts in half crosswise. Place tea mixture and all chicken pieces in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag; seal. Place bag in a shallow baking dish, and chill 24 hours.
Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Drain chicken well.
Whisk together flour and next 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. Spoon 1 cup flour mixture into a brown paper bag or large zip-top plastic freezer bag. Place one piece of chicken in bag; seal and shake to coat. Remove chicken, and transfer to a wire rack. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken, adding more flour mixture to bag as needed. Let chicken stand 30 minutes to form a crust.
Pour oil to depth of 1 1/2 inches into a cast-iron Dutch oven; heat over medium heat to 325°. Fry chicken, in batches, 15 to 22 minutes or until browned and done, turning occasionally. Drain on a wire rack over paper towels.
Note: If using a 12-inch-wide (2 1/4-inch-deep) cast-iron skillet, pour oil to depth of 1 inch.
First time making "real, old-fashioned" fried chicken and it was delicious! I doubled the recipe but used 1 medium sweet onion, 1.5 lemons, and about 6 large garlic cloves. The flour mixture made more than enough for 7lbs of chicken so I did not need to double it. I used canola oil in 2 ceramic dutch ovens over medium heat at 325 and each of the 5 batches cooked well in approximately 20 minutes/each. I kept the preceding batches warm in a 250-degree oven on a wire rack in a deep cookie sheet. The chicken was hot when I served it about an hour later and the crust remained crisp. My guests raved over the chicken, saying it had great flavor and was very juicy. It's definitely time-consuming so save it for a special occasion or the odd Sunday lunch, but it's certainly worth making!
Delicious! Made exactly according to directions. I've never made fried chicken before, and was concerned that the "crust" wouldn't be crisp or that chicken wouldn't cook through. Both were perfect. Found the flour coating mix made way more than I needed for one whole cut up chicken.