Honey-Peppered Buttermilk-Fried Chicken
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1/4 cup Essence plus
- 2 tablespoons Essence (see Bayou Blast recipe)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 lemon zested
- 1 quart buttermilk
- 1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon freshly-ground black pepper
- Peanut oil for frying
Combine salt, 1/4 cup of the Essence, the honey and the lemon zest in a large plastic container or non-reactive stockpot. Whisk in the buttermilk and stir until salt is dissolved and honey is fully incorporated. Immerse chicken and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.
Combine flour, remaining 2 tablespoons Essence and black pepper in a large plastic or doubled brown paper bag; shake to combine. Drop 1/2 of the chicken pieces into flour mixture and shake excess flour from each piece. Repeat coating with remaining chicken pieces. Place coated chicken pieces on a large wire rack, set over a sheet tray and let rest, at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Heat 4 inches of oil to 375 degrees in a large cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven. Adjust oven rack to middle position and set a second wire rack over a second baking sheet. Place baking sheet in oven and preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line 2 large plates with a double layer of paper towels.
Fry the chicken in batches, skin-side down, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Turn pieces over and continue to fry until chicken pieces are golden brown on second side, about 8 to 10 minutes longer. Remove and drain on paper towels. Using tongs, transfer to oven while you cook the remaining pieces.
Return oil to 375 degrees and fry remaining pieces. (Note: an even oil temperature is the key to the success of this recipe; a clip-on candy or deep-frying thermometer should be kept in the pot at all times, and the temperature should remain no lower than 325 degrees.)
Serve hot or at room temperature.
This recipe yields 4 servings.