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Tara’s Bee Stung Fried Chicken (with Korean gochujang honey)

Yields1 Serving

 1 Tbsp. medium-grain kosher salt
 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
 1 tsp. smoked or sweet paprika
 1 tsp. brown sugar
 6 sprigs thyme (optional)
 2 bay leaves, broken in half (optional)
 1 fryer chicken, about 3 lb (1.4 kg), cut into 10 pieces
 1 cup all-purpose flour
 1/2 cup cornstarch
 1 tsp. sweet paprika
 1 tsp. medium-grain kosher salt
 3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, well shaken
 1/3 cup water
 2 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
 4 cups (1 L) oil, for deep frying (Tara likes peanut; I used canola)
Hot honey butter
 3 Tbsp. butter
 3 Tbsp. honey
 2 Tbsp. gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
 1/2 clove garlic, grated
 1 tsp. gochugaru (Korean ground red pepper powder), cayenne, or crushed red pepper flakes

To season the chicken, combine the salt, pepper, paprika, sugar, thyme leaves pulled off their stems, and broken bay leaves. Put the chicken pieces in a large bowl and toss with the seasoned salt. Cover and refrigerate for as much time as you have - up to overnight. If you're frying right away, let it sit on the countertop while you get everything else ready. Otherwise, remove the chicken from the fridge an hour before you plan to cook to take the chill off, and set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.


To make the coating, in a wide, shallow dish or pie plate stir together the flour, cornstarch, paprika, salt, and pepper. In a bowl (or another pie plate) whisk the buttermilk, water, and baking powder.


Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves from the chicken. Using one hand in the wet and another in the dry, lightly dredge a piece of chicken in the seasoned flour, then dunk in the buttermilk mixture, letting any excess drip off. Place the pieces on the rack as you go. Starting with the first piece, coat the chicken again in the seasoned flour, coating it well, then shaking off any excess dry mix. The aim is to build up a thin, wrinkled coating. Return the piece to the wire rack and do the same with the rest of the chicken.


Line a large plate (I always use a large cast iron skillet that lives on the stovetop) with a few layers of paper towels. Preheat the oven to 200°F and set another wire rack over a sheet pan and place in the warm oven. In an 8-quart (8 L) Dutch oven with a 12-inch diameter, bring the oil to 350°F over medium-high heat. (Or use a deep fryer and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.) It should be hot, but not smoking - a scrap of bread should sizzle as you dip it in.


While the oil heats, make the honey butter. In a small saucepan set over low heat, warm the butter and honey, swirling to combine. Stir in the gochujang, garlic, and gochugaru. Set aside.


Starting with the legs and thighs, lower half the chicken pieces into the oil, skin side down. Cook for about 8 minutes, turning after the first few, and then again as needed until the pieces are deep golden. While cooking, adjust the heat as needed to maintain the oil temperature around 335°F (170°C)—the initial oil temperature of 350°F (175°C) is to compensate for how much heat will be lost once the chicken hits the fat. Transfer to the paper towel lined plate or pan to drain a bit, then to the oven rack for about 10 minutes, after which the chicken should be around 180°F at the thickest part of the thigh. Either toss the chicken with the hot honey butter or drizzle it over the chicken, then have at it.