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Honey-Peppered Buttermilk-Fried Chicken

Origin: U.S.A.

1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Essence, recipe follows
1/3 cup honey
1 lemon, zested
1 quart buttermilk
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon black pepper
Peanut oil, for frying

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
Yield: 2/3 cup

Combine salt, 1/4 cup of the Essence, the honey and the lemon zest in a large plastic container or non-reactive stockpot. Whisk in the buttermilk and stir until salt is dissolved and honey is fully incorporated. Immerse chicken and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.
Combine flour, remaining 2 tablespoons Essence and black pepper in a large plastic or doubled brown paper bag; shake to combine. Drop 1/2 of the chicken pieces into flour mixture and shake excess flour from each piece. Repeat coating with remaining chicken pieces. Place coated chicken pieces on a large wire rack, set over a sheet tray and let rest, at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Heat 4 inches of oil to 375 degrees F in a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. Adjust oven rack to middle position and set a second wire rack over a second baking sheet. Place baking sheet in oven and preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line 2 large plates with a double layer of paper towels.

Fry the chicken in batches, skin side down, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Turn pieces over and continue to fry until chicken pieces are golden brown on second side, about 8 to 10 minutes longer. Remove and drain on paper towels. Using tongs, transfer to oven while you cook the remaining pieces. Return oil to 375 degrees F and fry remaining pieces. (Note: an even oil temperature is the key to the success of this recipe; a clip-on candy or deep-frying thermometer should be kept in the pot at all times, and the temperature should remain no lower than 325 degrees F.)

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Medium
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 36 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993