Sweet Chick’s Tea-Brined Fried Chicken
½ cup sweet tea
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. dried thyme, divided
7 tbsp. kosher salt, divided
2 tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. ground black pepper, divided
1 whole chicken or 10 separate chicken pieces (thighs, drumsticks, wings and breasts)
2 cups buttermilk
4 cups flour
¼ cup cornstarch
1 tbsp. paprika
4 cups vegetable oil
1. Combine ½ gallon water, sweet tea, oregano, garlic powder, 1 tbsp. thyme, 6 tbsp. salt and 2 tbsp. black pepper in a large pot to create a brine. Add the chicken pieces, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours.
2. Remove chicken from brine, and pat dry with paper towels.
3. Pour buttermilk in a large bowl. In a second large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, paprika, 1 tbsp. thyme, 1 tbsp. kosher salt, and 1½ tsp. black pepper.
4. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour mixture to completely coat, then shake well to remove the excess. Then dip chicken completely in the buttermilk, then dredge again in the flour mixture.
5. Add the vegetable oil to a 12-in. cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet and heat to 300°. Carefully place half the chicken pieces into the pan. Cook chicken in oil for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping once, until the chicken is golden-brown and crispy, and the internal temperature reaches 165°. Let the cooked chicken drain on paper towels or a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Return the oil to 300° and repeat with the remaining pieces.