BUTTERMILK FRIED CHICKEN

FOR THE BRINE:

1 gallon water

1 cup kosher salt

½ cup sugar

8 bay leaves

2 cinnamon sticks

2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

5 allspice berries

5 whole cloves

2½ pounds all natural chicken, preferably 2 breasts, 2 drumsticks, and 2 thighs

FOR THE FRIED CHICKEN:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons cracked black pepper

2 cups buttermilk

Vegetable, canola, or peanut oil for frying

TO GARNISH:

¼ cup honey

Coarse sea salt

 

For the brine: Combine brine ingredients in a large pot over high heat, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and chill thoroughly. Place chicken in the brine; refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

For the fried chicken: Combine the flour, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, salt, and cracked pepper in a large shallow bowl and mix well. Place the buttermilk in another shallow bowl and set aside. Fill a Dutch oven or large cast iron skillet halfway with oil and place over medium-high heat. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan and heat the oil to 350˚F.

While the oil is heating, coat the chicken: Working with one piece at a time, roll the chicken in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess, then dip in buttermilk to coat completely. Return the chicken to the flour, rolling and turning to make sure there are no bare spots. Leave the chicken in the flour for a few  minutes, then roll it to coat again. Transfer the pieces to a wire rack as they are done, making sure coated pieces do not touch.

Carefully add the chicken to the hot oil and fry for 10 to 13 minutes, until the internal temperature of a thigh reaches 155˚F on an instant-read thermometer. Drain the cooked chicken on paper towels, then transfer to a clean wire rack to rest in a warm place for 5 minutes before serving. (This will allow the chicken to reach its proper serving temperature.) If the chicken gets cold, reheat in a 375˚F oven.

To assemble the dish: Place a large spoonful of watermelon salad on each plate. Arrange the fried chicken beside it and garnish the chicken with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of salt. Serve immediately

For the watermelon salad: Combine the salad ingredients in a bowl and toss gently to combine. Can be prepared a day ahead; cover and refrigerate until serving.

 

FOR THE WATERMELON SALAD:

¼ seedless watermelon, rind removed and flesh cut in cubes

1½ cups fresh corn kernels (from 3 ears sweet corn)

1 pint cherry tomatoes, washed, dried, and quartered

1 small red onion, peeled and diced

2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and diced

2 limes, zested and juiced

¼ cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves

¼ cup honey

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

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