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Grandma's Sweet Tea-Brined Fried Chicken with Butternut Squash Puree

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Ryan Scott shares his grandma’s recipe for sweet tea-brined fried chicken with butternut squash puree.
Ryan Scott shares his grandma’s recipe for sweet tea-brined fried chicken with butternut squash puree, Tuesday October 20, 2015.Anthony Quintano / TODAY
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Ingredients

Butternut squash puree
  • 1 pound butternut squash, diced
  • 3 tablespoons cream
  • 1 tablespoon butternut squash cooking liquid
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ounce butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • Brine
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 cups very strong tea
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt
  • 8 chicken legs
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • Crust
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups Wondra flour
  • 2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • Chef notes

    A classic mistake in fried chicken is frying from a raw state. Ryan's method is brining for moisture and flavor, then baking until cooked through while still keeping juicy. The chicken is then finished in the fryer to make it extra crispy.

    Preparation

    Butternut squash puree:

    Place squash in a pot and cover with water. Bring to boil and simmer until tender. Once cooked through, strain off liquid and reserve a little for the puree. Place all of the ingredients with butternut squash in a blender, and pulse until smooth. 

    Sweet tea-brined fried chicken:

    To make the brine, zest then quarter the lemon. Put the lemon zest and quarters into a sauce pan. Add the tea, sugar and salt. Simmer the mixture over medium-high heat until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add 1 quart of ice water and the chicken. Brine the chicken in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Drain the chicken and blot dry.

    Preheat oven to 225 F. Roast chicken for about 2 hours or until cooked through. You can test if chicken is done with a meat thermometer, chicken should be cooked to at 150 F.

    Cool chicken for at least 30 minutes.

    Combine 2 cups flour, the Wondra, Old Bay, chili powder, salt and pepper for seasoning crust in a large bowl. In a second bowl, beat the 8 eggs with the buttermilk. Put the remaining flour in a third bowl.

    Prepare a breading station by lining up the bowl of flour, then the bowl containing the egg and butter milk, and finally the bowl of seasoned crust. Roll the chicken in the flour, then the egg mixture, then the crust. Put the legs and thighs in a single layer on a plate or baking sheet. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.

    In a large skillet, heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil to 375 F. You can test temperature with a thermometer. Fry chicken for about 5 minutes for breast, or 7 minutes for the wings, thighs, or legs.

    Drain fried chicken on a plate lined with paper towels.

    To serve dollop butternut squash puree on a plate. Place chicken over puree.

    Garnish with sliced lemon wedges, and hot sauce. Ryan's favorite hot sauce with fried chicken is Tabasco as the acid brings everything together.