Ambessa Tea-Brined, Double Fried Chicken Recipe

By Marcus Samuelsson |

As I was reading the July issue of Food & Wine I came across two well accomplished chefs in Nashville that are reinventing the way we look at Southern cooking or Soul Food. Over herewe are all about reinventing traditions, making new with the old, or as Marcus would say, “Taking a step back, before we take a step forward”. Especially when it involves adding tea and spices to the mix.

Read the rest of their story here

For more Ambessa Tea Recipes, click here

Prep Details

Servings: 4

Calories per serving: 350 per serving

Prep time: 45 minutes plus 24 hours for brining

Cooking time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Total time: 2 hours 15 minutes plus 24 hr. for brining


For brine:

8 cups sweetened Safari Breakfast or Earl of Harlem Tea

1/2 cup kosher salt

10 thyme sprigs

1 head of garlic ,halved

1/2 lemon , thinly sliced

For double-fried hot chicken:

4 chicken drumsticks

4 chicken thighs

3 tbsp. gochujang*

3 tbsp. sorghum molasses

1 tbsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 cup lard or 1 stick unsalted butter, softened

Canola oil , for frying

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup Wondra flour

1-1/2 tbsp. cornstarch

About 1 cup seltzer


Photo: armaburrito

For brine:

1. In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups of the sweetened Ambessa tea just to a boil.

2. Add the 1/2 cup of kosher salt and stir until dissolved. Add the thyme, halved garlic head, lemon slices and the remaining 4 cups of sweetened tea and let cool completely, then refrigerate until well chilled, abut 45 minutes.

For double-fried hot chicken:

1. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the 3 garlic cloves with the gochujang, molasses and cayenne and puree until a past forms. Add the lard and puree until smooth. Season with salt. Scrape the chile mixture into a very large bowl.

3. In a large saucepan, heat 3 inches of oil to 350 F. Set a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Spread 1 cup of the all-purpose flour in a pie plate.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour with Wondra flour, cornstarch and a generous pinch of salt. Whisk in 3/4 cup of seltzer until a thick batter forms, adding more seltzer if needed.

5. Dredge 4 of the chicken pieces in the flour, tap off the excess and transfer to the rack. Dip 1 piece of chicken at a time in the batter, let the excess drip back into the bowl and add the chicken to the hot oil. Fry the chicken at 350 F., turning occasionally, until pale golden and crisp, about 8 minutes; transfer the chicken to the rack. Repeat with the remaining 4 pieces of chicken.

6. Return the first 4 pieces of chicken to the hot oil and fry at 350 F until golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 165 F, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining 4 pieces of chicken.

7. Add the 8 pieces of fried chicken to the very large bowl with the chile mixture and toss to coat. Transfer the chicken to a platter and serve right away.