Sweet Tea Is Your Secret Ingredient For Juicy And Flavorful Fried Chicken

Fried chicken on plate
Fried chicken on plate - Bhofack2/Getty Images

Cornbread and a pat of butter, chicken and dumplings, peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream — there are some combinations in the South that you simply can't separate, and fried chicken and sweet tea are prime examples. A bite of crispy chicken always goes down well with a sip of chilled black tea, but it's even better when steeped in it.

Yes, we know the combination sounds ludicrously Southern, almost stereotypically so, but walk with us: Imagine juicy, tender fried chicken with smooth hints of sweetness and a robust earthiness that envelops the whole dish. It sounds simplistic, but a good pitcher of sweet tea is all you need to make that a reality. Black tea is chock-full of tannins, a group of chemical compounds found in leaves, bark, fruits, and wine. Aside from providing flavor and texture, tannins break down the protein in the muscle fiber of meat, lending chicken a supple mouthfeel.

You can opt for store-bought tea, but brewing your own allows you to control the sugar content and how long it's steeped. When making the tea itself, the best time to sweeten your homemade iced tea is while it's still hot. Once it's cooled to room temperature, douse your chicken in it and marinate for at least 24 hours. You can leave it for longer, but note that it'll be sweeter if you do. After it's done soaking, fry it up like normal and enjoy.

Read more: 31 Popular Coffee Brands, Ranked

What To Serve With Sweet Tea Fried Chicken

Chicken and waffles
Chicken and waffles - Joshua Resnick/Shutterstock

By allowing bourbon's rich, woodsier side to show its face, sweet tea fried chicken has the best type of flavor to recreate classic chicken and waffles with bourbon-maple syrup. Covered in powdered sugar and a healthy drizzle of syrup, this combination is absolutely divine. For a fruity twist on the dish, use raspberry or strawberry flavored black tea to make your sweet tea and consider a berry-infused syrup.

If you steep your chicken in sweet tea for a longer period of time, then you'll need something earthy like crispy roasted okra to balance it out. In this dish, the grassy vegetable is spruced up with onion and garlic powder, as well as chili and paprika to bring a savory touch to the sweet fried chicken.

You can also make the dish a little more savory by serving it in sandwich form. Opt for boneless poultry when making the fried chicken and serve it in between buttery brioche buns. For the fixings, fill it up with a drizzle of spicy hot honey, shredded lettuce, pepper jack cheese, homemade garlic aioli, and red onions for some tang.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.