For the Sweet Tea Brine
2 quarts water
¼ cup salt
1∕8 cup sugar
1∕8 cup Creole spice mixture*
1 family-size tea bag
For the Chicken
2 3½-lb. chickens, each cut into 8 pieces
Lard for frying (or a combination of canola oil and lard)
For the Buttermilk Soak
2 cups buttermilk
1∕8 cup Creole spice mixture*
¼ cup hot sauce, preferably Crystal brand
2 eggs (added just before breading)
For the Breading
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups yellow cornmeal
½ cup Creole spice mixture*
¼ cup cornstarch
Special Equipment: Meat thermometer, candy thermometer, 10- to 12-inch well-seasoned cast-iron pan or Dutch oven
• Place all of the ingredients for the Sweet Tea Brine in a pot. Over medium heat, bring to a boil. Once boiling, transfer to a container to allow it to cool completely.
• Place the chicken pieces in the Sweet Tea Brine. You may need two containers in order to fit the chicken pieces in the brine. Stir to make sure the chicken is in contact with the brine. Refrigerate overnight, up to 24 hours.
• Remove the chicken pieces from the brine and transfer to a new container(s).
• Add the buttermilk, Creole spice and hot sauce to the container to make the Buttermilk Soak, and stir to make sure that the chicken is evenly coated. Refrigerate overnight, up to 24 hours.
• Crack 2 eggs into a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add the beaten eggs to the container with the chicken sitting in the Buttermilk Soak. Stir to combine and set aside.
• In a large bowl, combine all of the Breading ingredients. Stir and set aside.
• Remove each piece of chicken from the Buttermilk Soak, being careful not to let too much of the buttermilk mixture splash into the Breading. Dredge each piece of chicken in the Breading, making sure each piece is well-breaded, and lay it on a baking sheet. (If not frying the chicken immediately, place it in the refrigerator until ready to fry.)
• When ready to fry the chicken, preheat the oven to 250 degrees and clip the candy thermometer to the side of a 10- to 12-inch well-seasoned cast-iron pan or Dutch oven. Fill the pan with 1½ inches of rendered lard until it registers 300 degrees. Monitor the flame under the pot so you don’t heat the lard to its smoking point. Set a meat thermometer within reach, and place a wire rack atop a large baking sheet for holding the chicken after frying.
• Working in batches, carefully place the breaded chicken in the lard, making sure not to splash hot grease on your hands. When the moisture begins to “bead-up” on the raw side of the fried chicken, use metal tongs to flip the pieces over. If you notice that the breading is getting too dark while it is frying, flip the chicken a bit earlier. Fry until the breast pieces read an internal temperature of 165 degrees on the meat thermometer and the other pieces read 155 degrees. Depending on the ability to maintain the temperature of the oil at 300 degrees, the chicken will take about 15 to 20 minutes to cook. Remove the fried chicken pieces to the wire rack and then place the tray in the oven, leaving the oven door cracked open just slightly. Repeat with the remaining pieces of chicken, adding each fried piece to the warming tray.
• Serve immediately.
* Galliano makes his own spice mixture at home but recommended buying a premade mixture such as Tony Chachere’s.