Special equipment: a deep-fat fry thermometer
Combine 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/3 cup pickle juice, 2 tablespoons hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken thighs, seal the bag and shake to evenly disperse. Refrigerate and let marinate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
Whisk together the honey, chopped pickles and the remaining 2 tablespoons each pickle juice and hot sauce in a large bowl until well combined.
Whisk together the flour, paprika, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Pour in the remaining 1/4 cup of buttermilk and use your fingers to work it in, making the flour shaggy.
Fill a large, wide Dutch oven or pot with about 2 1/2 inches of oil, then add the shortening. Attach a deep-fat fry thermometer to the side of the pot and bring to 350 degrees F over medium heat. Line a large baking sheet with paper towels and a wire rack if desired and set aside.
Drain the chicken in a colander but do not pat dry. Transfer the chicken to the flour mixture, making sure to press the pieces into the flour to fully coat. Set on a plate. (If you notice the chicken getting soggy in any spots as it sits, dredge it in the flour mixture again.)
When the oil is at 350 degrees F, very carefully slide the breaded chicken into the oil and fry until deep golden brown with an internal temperature of about 170 degrees F, about 4 minutes. Remove to the lined baking sheet and sprinkle with a little salt.
Put the chicken in the bowl with the honey mixture and toss to coat. Serve in paper cones with toothpicks for skewering the chicken bites.
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