Sweet tea and fried chicken are a tried-and-true flavor combination in the South, and marinating chicken in a brine of freshly brewed tea seasoned with aromatic herbs makes each bite of chicken tender, moist and rich with flavor.
Luzianne Iced Tea
Sweet Tea Brined Fried Chicken
8 cups water, divided
4 family-size bags Luzianne Unsweet Iced Tea
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt (or coarse salt)
2 sprigs fresh lemon thyme (or plain thyme)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 lemon, quartered
1 (3-pound chicken), cut into 8 pieces
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon Louisiana-style hot sauce
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper + extra to taste
1 teaspoon salt + extra to taste
Vegetable oil, for frying
Bring 4 cups of the water to a boil and remove from heat. Add the tea bags, sugar, salt, herbs, garlic and lemon and let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the tea bags from the brine, squeeze out all of the liquid into the brine and discard the tea bags. Add the remaining 4 cups of water and continue to stir until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved.
Place the chicken pieces in the brine and refrigerate for 4 hours (and up to 8 hours).
Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Place the buttermilk and the hot sauce in a shallow bowl. Place the chicken in the bowl and toss with buttermilk mixture to cover; marinate for 20 minutes.
In a separate shallow bowl, combine the flour, cayenne pepper and salt.
Add oil to a large sauce pan to 3 inches deep; heat oil to 350°. Set a rack over a rimmed baking sheet.
Working in batches, remove the chicken pieces from the buttermilk and dredge in the flour mixture. Place several pieces of chicken in the hot oil and fry, turning occasionally, until golden and crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the rack to drain. Season with extra salt and cayenne pepper, if necessary. Repeat process with remaining chicken pieces.
Serve hot or at room temperature.