Serious Eats: Recipes

Cook the Book: Tea-Brined Batter Fried Picnic Chicken

[Photographs: Caroline Russock]

Sweet tea and fried chicken might just be the most Southern of all pairings. This recipe for Tea-Brined Batter Fried Picnic Chicken from One Big Table by Molly O'Neill comes from Blackberry Farm, an absolutely gorgeous resort in Tennessee. Blackberry Farm has two major draws—breathtaking grounds and an incredible kitchen. This chicken is meant to be cooled and packed for a picnic lunch the following day, preferably to be enjoyed while out exploring the resort's acres.

But even if you can't make it to Blackberry Farm, you can enjoy their incredible fried chicken at home. Brined in sweet tea for two days, the chicken is flavored with a sweet-salty lemon zest-infused tea before frying. Once the chicken has soaked in all of those tea flavors, it's floured, dipped in an eggy buttermilk, and coated again in a mix of flour, corn meal, Old Bay, and chili powder. This coating gives it a shatteringly crisp crust, made even crispier from the addition of corn meal.

When I made it at home I had quite a difficult time getting all of the chicken into the fridge to cool, since the skin was pretty much being asked to snack on. But like most fried chicken, this is a recipe that's best enjoyed the second day. When cool, the tea flavors come through bright and even a little tannic, and the crisp crust packs a wallop of Old Bay.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of One Big Table to give away this week.

Adapted from One Big Table by Molly O'Neill. Copyright © 2011. Published by Simon & Schuster. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

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