John Fleer is a thinking man's chef, a onetime doctoral candidate in religion who chucked it all for a career in the kitchen. One of his best ideas to spring from his mind is this brined chicken, which manages to pay tribute to the traditional South of days past and the multicultural South still on the horizon.
- 8 chicken leg quarters, cut into thighs and drumsticks
- 1 quart brewed tea, double strength
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1 quart ice water
- 3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups corn flour (or fish fry)
- 2 tablespoons crab boil seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 8 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Peanut oil
Combine tea, lemon, sugar and kosher salt, and simmer for 5 minutes or salt and sugar are complete dissolved. Pour in ice water and cool brine completely. Submerge thighs and drumsticks in brine for 48 hours.
Remove to a wire rack and allow chicken to drain. Combine 2 cups of the flour and the corn flour, crab boil, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Place remaining 1 cup flour in a medium bowl, and in a third bowl beat eggs with buttermilk. Line up bowls of flour, egg-buttermilk mixture and then the flour-corn flour mixture, in that order. Coat the chicken in the flour, then the egg-buttermilk mixture, and then the flour-corn flour mixture, applying pressure to ensure even adherence. Let the chicken sit in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour before frying.
Pour oil in a heavy pot at a depth of at least 3 inches. Heat oil to 300 degrees F. Fry chicken, submerged in oil, for 15 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 170 degrees F for dark meat, 160 degrees F for white meat. Drain on a rack. Cool to room temperature, and then place in refrigerator for at least 4 and no more than 24 hours. Serve cool from a picnic basket or cold, straight from the refrigerator.