Southern Food: Honey Pecan Glazed Fried Chicken Recipe

Fried chicken with honey glaze.

For more than half a century, I’ve had an ongoing love affair with food. I love looking at food, smelling food, and tasting food. The sound a steak makes as it hits a hot grill and the gentle whispering of chicken sizzling in oil are music to my ears. Cooking is a joyful experience for me, and serving my home-cooked dishes to family and friends is a true labor of love.

I have few food prejudices and will try just about anything once. I can appreciate a well crafted hamburger or a piece of perfectly grilled rabbit as much as I can admire lobster thermidor. I enjoy all kinds of cuisines, but I suppose if I had to pick just one, it would be Southern regional cooking. It’s what I grew up with. One of my all-time favorites is fried chicken, which I prepare to perfection – or so I thought. An encounter a few years ago, however, changed everything I thought I knew about this humble dish.

My husband and I love visiting Savannah, Georgia. We always find some great restaurants to frequent, and one of my favorites is the Pirate’s House. One night when we had dinner there, a buffet was offered, and we readily accepted. There were lots of scrumptious dishes on the buffet, including several seafood items like shrimp scampi, crab soufflé, fried crab claws, and baked fish. I tried to get a bite of everything so I could explore new flavors.

At the end of the buffet table sat a lonely platter of fried chicken. I wondered at first why such a mundane dish was included on a seafood buffet. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the chicken was covered in a glaze and sprinkled with pecans. I almost passed it by, but one of the food gods smiled on me and enticed me to partake.

It was love at first bite – Southern fried chicken at its best! Amazingly, I pushed aside the dishes made with local shrimp and crab. I only had eyes for the perfect poultry. I don’t remember how many pieces I ate – I was lost in my love affair, oblivious to even the dessert cart.

This was absolutely the best fried chicken I had ever eaten. In fact, it was one of the top two or three dishes of any type that I’d ever consumed, and believe me – I’ve had many, many culinary adventures. It combined all the right adjectives that I find so alluring in foods: crispy, juicy, savory, sweet, crunchy, buttery, succulent, and attractive, with subtle undertones of spices and herbs. It also had a tantalizing aroma. What more could you possibly ask of a humble chicken – or of any dish, for that matter?

As a matter of fact, even with my decent vocabulary, I couldn’t quite find the right words to describe this delicacy. I found myself inventing new words, like “scrumpcialicious” and “awesomocity” and “delectiyummy,” and even those were not sufficient to convey such a sensuous experience. I was finally reduced to incoherent babbling. Hubby thought for a moment that I was speaking in tongues.

In the throes of my deep-fried honey-and-pecan ecstasy, I vowed to uncover the secrets of my love interest. Try as I might, however, I could not cajole nor bribe the waiter or the chef into sharing the recipe with me.

As soon as I got home, I began to dream of dancing chickens dressed in suits of brown crust. Sometimes they swam in rivers of honey as pecans floated by. Even in my waking hours, the phantasmal fowl haunted me. I set out on a quest to emulate the Pirate’s House chicken, and through trial and error, I think I’ve come pretty darn close! Actually, I think I’ve made some slight improvements to the original.

I’ll share it, but I must warn you – this is a highly addictive substance. Few who have tasted its nectar have fully recovered, even after enduring several vigorous 12-step programs.

Since I first tasted this culinary marvel in Savannah, I named my recipe after that beautiful city by the sea.

Holle’s Savannah honey-pecan fried chicken

 

What you’ll need:

  • One cut-up fryer
  • One cup buttermilk
  • One cup self-rising flour
  • One teaspoon seasoned salt
  • One teaspoon garlic powder
  • One teaspoon black pepper
  • One teaspoon dried basil
  • One teaspoon dried thyme
  • One teaspoon paprika
  • One teaspoon white pepper
  • Cayenne to taste
  • Peanut oil for frying

Directions:

The key to this dish is having the perfect fried chicken.

Rinse the chicken parts and pat dry. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with seasonings. Move the chicken around so that all the pieces get a taste. Cover the chicken with buttermilk and place in the fridge for at least six hours. Leave it overnight, if you wish.

Next, add any seasonings you like to the flour, and dredge the chicken parts.

Fry chicken in peanut oil that has been preheated to 350 degrees. If you want to cook the chicken in small batches, you can use about an inch of oil in a skillet, but if you want to cook it all at the same time, use a large heavy pot or a Dutch oven, filled about half full with the oil.

Carefully drop the pieces of chicken in and let them fry for about 20-25 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, re-arrange the chicken to make sure it’s browning on all sides. If you’re using the skillet method, turn the chicken pieces over after 10 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pan and drain on a wire rack over paper towels.

Now for the pecan-honey glaze!

Holle’s Honey Glaze recipe

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup chopped or broken pecans
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Toast pecans in a small skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and add butter. When butter has completely melted, stir in the honey, the brown sugar, and the salt. Simmer until honey glaze is smooth and thick. Drizzle over chicken.

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