From: Chefs/co-owners Christine Cikowski and Joshua Kulp, Honey Butter Fried Chicken (HBFC), Chicago. Yield: 4 servings.
⅓ cup coarse kosher salt
¼ cup granulated sugar
⅛ tsp. chile flakes
2 quarts water
peel of one lemon
peel of one orange
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
as needed, chicken brine to cover
Chicken Dredge Flour:
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup rice flour
1½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1½ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
1½ tsp. coarse kosher salt
⅛ tsp. smoked paprika (pimenton)
¼ tsp. baking powder
Candied Jalapeno Mayo:
2 medium jalapeno peppers, cut into ¼ inch rounds
2 medium fresno chile peppers, cut into ¼ inch rounds
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 cup natural prepared mayonnaise
kosher salt to taste
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1 cup shredded red cabbage
½ cup pickled red onions
¼ cup red wine vinegar (or the juice from the pickled red onions)
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 scallions, washed and sliced into thin rounds
1 tsp. honey
to taste, kosher salt and black pepper
as needed, chicken strips
as needed, candied jalapeno mayo
as needed, crunchy slaw
4 buttery buns (or challah or brioche-type buns)
Battered Fried Chicken:
1 qt. buttermilk
1 Tbsp. smoked paprika (pimenton)
to taste, kosher salt
as needed, brined chicken strips
as needed, chicken dredge flour
as needed, fryer oil: canola or rice bran, enough to fill a sturdy, high-sided pot with four inches of oil
For brine: Combine above ingredients in a large pot and heat over medium heat and stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Cool the brine completely.
For chicken: Cut each thigh into three strips, lengthwise. Place the chicken pieces in brine for 8 to12 hours. Remove from the brine and dry excess moisture with paper towels.
For dredging flour: Mix flour, spices and baking powder well. Taste it; the mixture should taste good.
For candied jalapenos: Combine peppers, sugar and water in a pot over high heat until it boils. Turn down to a simmer until the peppers are soft and cooked through, approximately 20-30 minutes. Cool the peppers to room temperature in the syrup. Remove peppers from syrup and puree peppers in a food processor until the mixture is chopped up but still a little chunky.
For candied jalapeno mayo: Whisk candied jalapeno puree and mayo in a mixing bowl. Season to taste with kosher salt. For spicier mayo, add a little of the candied jalapeno syrup. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
For slaw: Combine shredded cabbage, red onions and scallions in a large mixing bowl. Add vinegar, olive oil, honey and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper. Toss to combine and season to taste. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
For chicken batter process: Place the chicken dredge flour in a wide container. Pour the buttermilk into a second container. Batter each piece of chicken, one at a time. Submerge the chicken first in buttermilk. Lift chicken out of the buttermilk, let drip slightly, then place into chicken dredge flour container and coat the chicken again. Be careful to ensure that the chicken is evenly and fully coated, but do not let the coating become too thick. Place battered chicken pieces on a plate and proceed with battering the remaining chicken.
For fried chicken strips: Preheat oil over medium heat. Using a probe or oil thermometer, carefully bring oil to 340°F. If the pot is small, fry chicken in batches. If you place too much chicken into the oil, the temperature will drop too much and chicken will become greasy. Place chicken gently into the hot oil; the temperature will drop. Carefully adjust heat to keep the oil at a constant 315-320°F. Fry the chicken until each piece reads at least 165°F at its thickest point. When the chicken is cooked, remove it carefully from the oil and place on a wire rack over a cookie sheet or on paper towels.
Dust the top side of the just-fried chicken with a sprinkle of salt and a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Let rest for one minute, flip the chicken and dust the other side with salt and smoked paprika.
To assemble sandwich: Slather candied jalapeno mayo on each side of a buttery bun. Place three fried chicken strips on the bottom bun, top with crunchy slaw and the top bun.