Learn to make Ellen’s on Front chef Jennie Werts‘s sweet tea brine fried chicken with this amazing recipe!
Sweet Tea Brine
1 whole chicken, broken down into individual pieces
4 black tea bags (Lipton is fine)
2 quarts water
1 small bunch fresh thyme
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
Bring 1 quart of water to a boil and steep tea, thyme, 1 lemon juiced, brown sugar, and salt until pretty dark, about 5 minutes. Add 1 quart cold water to tea mixture and an equal amount of ice so mixture is very cold. Add chicken pieces and brine for 24 hours.
4 cups flour
3 tbsp paprika
1.5 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp salt
Combine all ingredients and whisk together. Take about a third of the flour mixture and put in a mixing bowl. Add enough club soda so it’s the consistency of a crepe batter, a bit thinner than pancake batter, and leave the rest of the dry flour mixture in a large mixing bowl.
Strain chicken and place in a baking dish and cover with foil. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and cook chicken for about 45 minutes to one hour until partially cooked. While the chicken is cooking, in a cast-iron skillet, heat up canola oil (1/3 of the way up in the skillet) to 350 degrees. If you have a deep fryer, even better!
Once chicken is out of the oven, strain off excess juice. Place chicken in wet batter and then coat in dry flour mixture, making sure every nook and cranny is covered in flour. Add chicken pieces to hot oil. Because the chicken is mostly cooked through, you basically just need color on the batter, so it doesn’t need THAT much time. But stick a meat thermometer in it and check temp. Should be at 165 degrees. Drain chicken on paper towels.
Garnish chicken with a bit of honey, hot sauce, and fresh basil (Thai basil is better), and voila!