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Recipe | Smoked Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Recipe | Smoked Buttermilk Fried Chicken

A little over two years ago, I had the good fortune of meeting chef Ben Adams of Picnic at a Fullsteam Brewery event. Luckily we’ve stayed in touch and this past fall I had the unique privilege to cook along side him...I learned some tricks of the trade and a few secret techniques to make his signature Smoked Buttermilk Fried Chicken. We had a blast shooting the breeze and it was tremendously fun making a mess with a bonafide chef that honed his skills at McCrady’s Tavern, Hominy Grill and Piedmont. Now that I’m Bay Area based, I won’t deny I’m missing Ben’s amazing chicken...good thing I snagged the recipe before I left town, so I can make it at home - and you can too! We hope you try it out and report back via Instagram on how it goes…

Smoked Buttermilk Fried Chicken

4 Chicken Quarters (white or dark meat, or a combo)
2 Quarts Water
2 Cups Salt
2 Cups Sugar
2 Quarts Buttermilk
6 Cups AP Flour
2 Cup Rice Flour
1/3 cup Cajun Seasoning (your favorite frand from the supermarket)
1/2 Cup Honey
1/2 Cup Texas Pete Hot Sauce
1 Gallon Canola or any other light vegetable oil

Bring the water, salt and sugar to a boil in a pot until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Place the brine in a cooler until it’s fully chilled. Place the chicken in the brine for 4-6 hours.

Smoked Buttermilk:
Pour the buttermilk into a shallow pan or bowl. Light a few pieces of charcoal (6-8) in your grill. Place 3 cups of oak wood chips, or 4 pieces of chopped oak on top of the coals until they begin to smoke. Place the buttermilk on the rack in the grill, close the bottom vents of the grill, and place the lid on with top vents just slightly open. Allow to smoke for 30-45 minutes, or until the buttermilk has taken on a nice smoky flavor. Once smoked, place the buttermilk in a cooler or the fridge until fully chilled.

Place chicken in the smoked buttermilk and allow to marinate for 1-2 hours. Combine the flours and seasoning to make the dredge; in a separate dish combine the honey and hot sauce to make the Honey-Hot Sauce.

Heat the oil to 275 F in a pot. Dredge the chicken in the flour, covering all sides evenly. Give it a light shake and place in the oil, frying until the skin is a golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 165 F. Remove from oil and let drain. Heat the oil to 350 F. When you are ready to eat, drop the chicken in the 350 F oil for ~30 seconds for a final crispness right before serving. Serve with the honey-hot sauce on the side.

Photos: Sara Coffin Photography

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