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Buttermilk-Marinated Fried Chicken and Creamy Grits with Sweet-and-Spicy Sauce

Ingredients
Serves:
Prep Time: 2 hrs. & 30 mins.
Cook Time: 60 mins.
Chicken Brine
2 us liquid quart s
cold water
1
large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1
large carrot, peeled and diced
1
large celery stalk, diced
3
bay leaves
1 3/4 cup s
pure maple syrup
3/4 cup
kosher salt
2 tablespoon s
cracked black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon
ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon
ground ginger
Creamy Grits
3 cup s
good-quality canned chicken broth
1 cup
whole milk
1 cup
heavy cream
1 cup
white regular (not quick-cooking) grits
1/4 cup
Mascarpone
1/4 cup
unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 pinch
kosher salt
1 pinch
Freshly ground white pepper
Buttermilk-Marinated Fried Chicken and Creamy Grits with Sweet-and-Spicy Sauce
1 1/2 pound s
boneless skinless chicken thighs or legs, well trimmed and cut into 4 equal portions
2 cup s
buttermilk
2 us liquid quart s
soy oil or canola oil, for deep-frying
2 cup s
all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon s
kosher salt
1 teaspoon
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon
garlic powder
1 teaspoon
onion powder
1/2 teaspoon
cayenne
1 cup
good-quality bottled mayonnaise
1/4 cup
honey
2 tablespoon s
hot sauce such as Tabasco

Chicken Brine

  1. Put 1 quart of the water along with the onion, carrot, celery, and bay leaves in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Leave at room temperature to cool. Then, transfer to a large nonreactive mixing bowl, cover, and refrigerate until chilled.
  2. In another bowl, combine the remaining 1 quart water with the put the maple syrup, kosher salt, cloves, and ginger. Stir with a wire whisk until the syrup and salt have dissolved.
  3. Stir the maple-syrup mixture into the bowl of chilled water with aromatics.

Creamy Grits

  1.  In a large saucepan, combine the broth, milk, and cream. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, watching carefully that it doesn’t boil over.
  2. As soon as the liquid is boiling, stir continuously with a wire whisk while slowly pouring in the grits. When the mixture begins to bubble, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pan so the grits don’t stick or burn. When the grits have absorbed all the liquid, are thick and creamy like a hot breakfast cereal, and taste tender, after about 20 minutes, turn off the heat and whisk in the mascarpone, butter, and Parmesan until melted and thoroughly blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and keep the grits warm.
  3. As soon as it starts to bubble, turn down to low and let cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and often so as not to burn or stick to bottom of pot.
  4. Taste to make sure grits are creamy and cooked through, and then turn off heat, whisk in butter, cheese, and mascarpone and season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Buttermilk-Marinated Fried Chicken and Creamy Grits with Sweet-and-Spicy Sauce

  1. The morning or night before, prepare the Chicken Brine (recipe follows). Then, at least several hours in advance of serving, or as long as the night before, submerge the chicken pieces in the brine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  2. About 1 1/2 hours before serving time, remove the chicken pieces from the brine; discard the brine. Pour the buttermilk into a clean bowl and submerge the chicken pieces in the buttermilk; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.
  3. About 30 minutes before serving, begin cooking the Creamy Grits.
  4. About halfway through cooking the grits, pour the oil into an automatic countertop deep-fryer or into a heavy, deep pot with a capacity of at least 4 quarts. Set the deep-fryer thermostat to 350°F; or heat the pot of oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F on a deep-frying thermometer.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders, and paprika. Spread the seasoned flour on a dinner plate. A piece at a time, remove the chicken from the buttermilk, gently shaking off excess liquid; immediately dredge the chicken piece in the seasoned flour to coat it lightly all over. (For crustier results, dip the flour-coated piece back into the buttermilk, shake off excess liquid, and dredge in the flour a second time.) Transfer the chicken to a plate lined with parchment or waxed paper.
  6. When the grits are almost ready, start cooking the chicken. Taking care to avoid splashing and not to overcrowd the deep-fryer or pot with more pieces than fit comfortably, slip the chicken a piece at a time into the hot oil. Fry until the chicken is deep golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. As the pieces are done, use the fryer basket or a wire skimmer to remove them, transferring the chicken to a plate lined with paper towels; keep it warm while frying any remaining pieces. (Cut into the thick part of a piece with a small, sharp knife to  make sure it is cooked all the way through.) Lightly season the chicken all over with salt and pepper.
  7. While the chicken cooks, put the mayonnaise, honey, and pepper sauce in a small mixing bowl and whisk until combined.
  8. To serve, ladle the cooked grits into the centers of individual heated serving plates. Place the fried chicken on top. Drizzle the sweet-and-spicy mayonnaise over the chicken. Serve immediately.

 

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About this Recipe

We’ll be passing an hors-d’oeuvre–style version of this dish at the Governors Ball, with bite-sized chunks of the chicken resting on top of small pan-browned disks made from the grits mixture. To help you enjoy the same dish at home without as much prep work, the instructions here yield main-course servings, with the creamy grits dished up loose on plates and then topped with larger pieces of fried chicken.