This post was originally written in October 2016, when Honey Butter Delights was a food blog.
SOME OF MY EARLIEST MEMORIES AS A CHILD ARE IN THE KITCHEN, HELPING MY MOTHER MAKING RUSSIAN TEACAKES DURING THE COLD WINTER MONTHS OR WAITING IN ANTICIPATION AS MY DAD EXPERTLY FLIPPED FRENCH TOAST FOR A SPECIAL SATURDAY MORNING TREAT. I CHERISH THOSE TIMES WITH MY PARENTS. WHILE THEY SHAPED HAMBURGER PATTIES AND CLEANED DISHES, I BEGAN TO ASSOCIATE THE KITCHEN WITH A SENSE OF COMFORT.
As I enter early adulthood and start to share my recipes with others, one of the first questions people ask is the origin story: how did you learn to cook? The mythology begins with a vacation my parents took, where my mother saw an Edwardian-themed children’s cookbook. This innocuous, kitschy book, with its rosy-cheeked young chefs, solidified the foundation for a lifetime curiosity of turn of the century European culture and my unwavering love affair with cooking.
Around the age of six, my parents trusted me enough to start making my own meals a la microwave Quaker Oats, but I quickly graduated to clumsy attempts at a fresh pot of coffee, omelets - despite my intense hatred of eggs during this period - and biscuits. My early morning efforts quickly graduated into a full-blown obsession, to the point where my family nickname was solidified as “biscuit head” by the time I entered middle school.
Living abroad in Berlin for the last few months, away from general distractions, and having my own kitchen has allowed me to reflect on these smaller moments. The inspiration for this recipe not only comes from these childhood memories, but also a general case of homesickness. Warm, buttery biscuits and crispy chicken are synonymous with a packed car of friends and the comfort familiarity brings.
Chicken biscuits are inherently addictive. It’s just fried chicken in between two pieces of bread and honey butter. The recipe is relatively easy to make and uses familiar kitchen staples - flour, butter, eggs and chicken - that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. If you have the extra time, brining your chicken is non-negotiable. It’s a fairly simple process that requires little effort but produces a juicy, tender chicken without fail.
If you’re new to cooking, or, in my case, don’t want to invest in fancy equipment since I’m leaving in less than a month, there are different ways you can get creative with preparing this recipe. Large glasses or mugs are a great alternative to a standard cookie cutter and that empty bottle of wine from last night gets the job done as a rolling pin. Feel free to add or subtract different spices for the chicken breading. Cooking is an art as much as it is a science, so feel free to experiment.
While this recipe may or may not cure homesickness, I hope it can cure an empty stomach craving.
Honey Butter Chicken Biscuits
makes 8 chicken biscuits
Prep time: 20 minutes + brining time
Cook time: 25 minutes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, frozen
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
2 quarts cold water
1 cup boiling water
1 cup kosher salt
4 chicken breasts
2 cups milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 quarts peanut or sunflower oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
red pepper flakes
Prepare the brine by dissolving the kosher salt into 1 cup of boiling water and adding this solution to 2 quarts of cold water.
Trim any fat off of the chicken breasts, then horizontally split each breast in half, creating 8 cutlets. Place in the brine and set aside in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or, ideally, overnight.
In a small bowl or ramekin, heat the honey in the oven until it’s completely melted (around 45 seconds). Add honey and cinnamon, then allow it to harden up again in the fridge.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Cut the frozen butter into small, 1/4" thick cubes and add to the flour mixture. Using either your hands or a food processor, combine the butter into the mixture until the mixture is coarse.
Create a well in the center of the butter and flour mixture, then slowly add the buttermilk, in 1/4 cup increments, until a raggy dough forms (usually around 3/4 cup). Lightly dust your hands and a clear surface, then began to roll out the dough to around 1/4" thick. With a knife or pastry cutter, divide your dough into three portions,. Lay each section on top of each other before rolling the dough to around 3/4" thick.
Take a large cookie cutter or opening of a wide glass to create the biscuit rounds. Tightly arrange, with the edges touching, on a cookie sheet then brush the remaining buttermilk over the tops. Bake for 13-16 minutes, or until the tops turn golden brown.
While the biscuits are in the oven, add peanut or sunflower oil to a large pot (preferably cast iron). Take the chicken out of the brine and pat the individual pieces dry. Combine the milk and eggs into a shallow container. In a separate container, mix the flour and baking powder. Slowly add enough of the combined milk and egg mixture to the flour until a wet sand appearance forms.
In a separate bowl, mix together the spices and evenly distribute on the chicken pieces by patting down with your fingers. Check the oil with either a thermometer or by dropping in a piece of the flour mixture. Dip the chicken into the flour, shake off any excess flour, then add to the milk, before dipping back in the flour to ensure everything adheres.
Deep fry for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let them cool on a wire rack for optimal crispiness. To assemble, liberally add enough honey butter and a piece of chicken.