Honey Fried Chicken + Watermelon Caipirinha

Summer is winding down so I decided to go out with a bang! I was inspired to make this dish after a Netflix marathon session of “The Mind Of A Chef”. Season 3 features award-winning chef of 610 Magnolia, and self proclaimed fried chicken aficionado, Ed Lee. In the fourth episode, he teams up with acclaimed chef Ashley Christensen, of Beasley’s Chicken + Honey to recreate her famous Honey Fried Chicken. With notes in hand, I knew I wanted to take a stab at making my own version of that dish. Paired with a watermelon caipirinha, quite possibly THE most perfect accompaniment to fried chicken, this spread was an absolute triumph. 

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ pounds of chicken (combination of wings and drumsticks)
  • Canola oil (for frying)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 2 cups of buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp of coconut vinegar
  • 1 ½ cup of all purpose flour
  • 3 tsp of coarse sea salt
  • 3 tsp of fresh ground black pepper
  • 1tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp Gindo’s Spice Of Life pepper sauce
  • ½ cup of honey
  • 3 cloves of garlic (peeled and smashed)
  • 2 tbsp of unsalted butter
  • 1 lemon

The How To…

Fried Chicken

Cut away the tips of the wings. Place chicken in a strainer, and squeeze lemon juice over evenly and then wash off. Move chicken to a bowl, season with salt (2 tsp.) and pepper (1 tsp.), and let stand for 15 minutes. Add buttermilk and coconut vinegar to the bowl. Leave chicken covered in this bath for 5 hours minimum, but for best results refrigerate overnight.

Make sure chicken is at about room temperature when ready to fry. Season flour with paprika, cayenne, and the rest of the salt and pepper. One by one, lift each piece out of the buttermilk to briefly drain the excess, then place in  a grocery bag with the flour mixture. Fold the bag closed, and shake to thoroughly coat the chicken with the flour mixture, about 30 seconds. Move coated pieces to a baking rack.

Chef Trick… let chicken sit on the rack for at least 20 minutes before frying. That allows for the buttermilk to react with the flour, which aides in the coating being absorbed by the chicken which gives it that great crunchy texture once cooked.

Heat up at least 3 inches of oil (canola or peanut) in a deep heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, adjusting the temperature of the oil as necessary to maintain 325°F. I highly recommend investing in a cooking thermometer. It will change your life!

Once the oil is hot enough, add a few pieces at a time and fry in batches, and be careful not to splash. Cook until crispy, deep golden brown. Roughly 10 - 12 minutes per batch. Once finished, move to a clean baking rack to cool.

Honey Sauce

Add honey, thyme, butter, garlic, and Gindo’s Spice Of Life (or red chili flakes) to a saucepan and sauté over low heat. Once flavors are fully incorporated, and the honey has a vicious consistency (about 5 minutes), remove from heat and drizzle over the chicken.

Watermelon Caipirinha

  • Limes
  • Leblon cachaca
  • Organic sugar
  • Watermelon puree
  • Crushed ice

Fill cocktail glass with crushed ice. Cut 1 lime into 8 equal pieces and add to martini shaker. Add 2.5 tbsp of sugar and gently muddle. Add 2 shots of cachaca, about ½ cup of watermelon puree, and ice from cocktail glass. Shake generously, pour, and savor. This makes one serving.

Meal was served on VerTerra Dinnerware