Iced Tea-Brined Fried Chicken with Jalapeño Slaw


Fried Chicken

Fried chicken has to be one of the all time best comfort foods, right? I mean good fried chicken of course, not the stuff that teenagers pick at on street corners and then so thoughtfully leave the remains of on the floor of the bus. That stuff is clearly the beginning of the end for modern society, ruining appetites at dinner time, increasing obesity, destroying relationships, contributing to climate change and upping the chances of an imminent zombie apocalypse.

I think I came across the idea of brining chicken in iced tea in Bon Appetit, and a little light Googling revealed that it is most definitely ‘a thing’. I’ve come around to the idea of brining chicken since I wrote a (buttermilk brined) fried chicken recipe for my book 101 Sandwiches; it really does increase the juiciness of the meat and of course is another opportunity to introduce flavours. The thing to watch out for is over-brining, because that makes the meat obviously watery and frankly, just a bit weird. Get it right, and it’s fabulous.

Using iced tea just seems so brilliantly Deep South. It gave the meat a sweetness and flavour that was surprisingly complex. I modified my original coating recipe slightly and it all worked out very well indeed. The buttermilk jalapeño slaw is a must alongside as the acidity and bite of the jalapeños does great things in your mouth with the full-on fried chicken.

Fried Chicken

Iced Tea-Brined Fried Chicken

6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (good quality, free-range)
1.5 bottles Lipton Iced Tea, original flavour (enough to just cover the chicken, approx 750ml)
1 level teaspoon sea salt

For the coating:

150g plain flour
1.5 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt

Oil, such as groundnut, for frying

Dissolve the salt in the iced tea and submerge the chicken in it. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours. Drain.

Make the seasoned flour by combining all the ingredients in a bowl. Heat some oil for deep frying to a temperature of 160C. Pat the chicken with kitchen paper, then dip it into the seasoned flour, coating well all over. Cook the chicken 2 pieces at a time in the hot oil for about 5-6 minutes each side, until the internal temperature reaches 75C. Drain on kitchen paper.

Buttermilk Jalapeno Slaw

1/2 white cabbage
1 large carrot
1 small red or white onion
2 tablespoons jalapenos, chopped (I used the ones that come sliced in a jar)
4 tablespoons buttermilk
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
Juice 1/2 small lemon

Use a grating attachment for a food processor to chop/shred the cabbage, carrot and onion finely. You can of course do this by hand too. Mix in the other ingredients, season with salt and serve with the fried chicken.

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  • Avatar
    Reply suzie f August 3, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    This looks ridiculously delicious Helen. I’m just back from the Deep South, so shall forward to my relatives there for them to give it the once over…..

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen August 3, 2015 at 12:16 pm

      Woah, I hope it passes the test!

  • Avatar
    Reply Dave Lozman August 3, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    This recipe sounds amazing and I’ll be giving it a go myself at somepoint. My only niggle is you mention using good quality ingredients such as free range chicken but then you use liptons iced tea. Why not make your own? It will taste better and be healthier.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen August 3, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      Hi Dave, my primary concern with the chicken was the chicken’s welfare when it was alive. I like the flavour of Lipton’s iced tea and that is why I used it. I would have used plenty of sugar in my own recipe anyway. It is also easier for other people to make the recipe. Finally, if I were THAT concerned about recipes being healthy, I wouldn’t be eating fried chicken in the first place…

      • Avatar
        Reply Dave Lozman August 3, 2015 at 3:17 pm

        I completely understand your point about good chicken, I only eat free range corn fed birds myself and always buy local where possible. My concern with the liptons tea is incredients like high fructose corn syrup, calcium disodium EDTA, potassium sorbate and sodium hexametaphosphate.

        • Avatar
          Reply Helen August 3, 2015 at 3:29 pm

          Hi Dave. This really isn’t a healthy eating blog in any way, shape or form I’m afraid. In the big scheme of things, a bottle of iced tea every now and again with a few baddies in it really doesn’t worry me. From my perspective, there are much bigger fish to fry. Or chickens.

  • Avatar
    Reply Donald August 3, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Awesome, next up. Mountain Dew panzanella? 😉

  • Avatar
    Reply msmarmitelover August 3, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    That slaw sounds fabulous x

  • Avatar
    Reply Rob Reso August 5, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    This truly looks fantastic Get a life Dave, potassium sorbates, Jesus tonight

  • Avatar
    Reply Lizzie August 10, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Iced tea is my favourite drink ever ever. Wonder how well it’d work with iced lemon tea…? And do you think there’s any benefit in making your own iced tea, or do you think you need the sweetness?

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen August 10, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      Oh it was the lemon one. I meant lemon when I said original! I mean you could make your own, but I’d put loads of sugar in it anyway…

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