Lemonade Fried Chicken

This crispy and tender fried chicken from the cookbook Homage is zesty, spicy, and incredibly flavorful.

Lemonade Fried Chicken
Photo: Heami Lee
Hands On Time:
55 mins
Total Time:
14 hrs 55 mins
Yield:
12 pieces

A brilliant brine uses the sweet-tart-spicy magic of sugar, lemons, and hot sauce to tenderize and flavor chicken in chef Chris Scott's cookbook, Homage. The book is a tasty tribute to his ancestors, including his enslaved great-great-great grandmother, and Pennsylvania Dutch country, where he grew up. He blends them into "Amish soul food" and adds a chef-y touch from his years in restaurant kitchens. This fried chicken recipe is a must. It requires some hands-off time to let the ingredients do their job, but once they do, it's frying time!

Ingredients

For the brine:

  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (from 6 lemons)

  • 1 ½ cups Louisiana-style hot sauce (such as Frank's Red Hot or Crystal), divided

  • ½ cup garlic powder

  • ½ cup onion powder

  • ½ cup kosher salt

  • ¼ cup ground cumin

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

  • 6 chicken drumsticks

  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

  • 1 cup whole buttermilk

For the breading:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup fine yellow cornmeal

  • 2 tablespoons baking powder

  • 4 to 6 cups vegetable or corn oil

Directions

  1. Make the Brine: Combine 8 cups cold water with lemon juice, 1/2 cup hot sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, cumin, and sugar in a large bowl. Stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Put chicken in a large plastic storage bag or a glass container and cover with brine. Refrigerate for 12 hours.

  2. Remove chicken from brine and put it in another clean plastic storage bag or container. Cover with buttermilk and remaining 1 cup hot sauce. Refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours.

  3. Make the Breading: Combine flour, cornmeal, and baking powder in a baking dish. Remove chicken from buttermilk and set on a wire rack to let excess drip off. Dredge chicken in dry mix.

  4. Fill a deep fryer or sauté pan with oil and heat to 350°F. Layer paper towels on a rack or baking sheet.

  5. Carefully add chicken to oil, cooking in batches if needed to avoid crowding the fryer. (You should be able to fit about 4 pieces at a time without dropping the temperature.) Fry chicken until cooked through and crispy, or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest part registers 165°F, 10 to 12 minutes. If oil temperature drops below 325°F, increase heat or fry fewer pieces at a time.

  6. Remove chicken from oil and set on paper towels to dry. Serve hot.

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