Blueberry Sweet Tea–Brined Chicken Thighs From Todd Richards

August 13, 2020
2 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Amanda Widis.
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

"The dark meat of chicken thighs naturally has a good amount of moisture. Brining accentuates the juiciness of the thigh and also coaxes out the prized natural flavors in the chicken that make it such a popular favorite. Know that the brine may give the chicken a bluish or red hue. Be sure to regular the cooking temperature well. Thighs, by nature, take some time to cook. With the sugar content being elevated from the brine, a pan too hot will cause the skin to caramelize faster than the meat can each its ideal internal temperature. Until you master doneness of different cuts of chicken, a meat thermometer is useful for making sure the chicken is ready."

Adapted with permission from Soul: A Chef's Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes by Todd Richards (Southern Living, 2018). —Food52

What You'll Need
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • Blueberry Sweet Tea Brine (recipe below)
  • 2 tablespoons blended olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • Blueberry Sweet Tea (recipe below)
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 star anise pods
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 large thyme sprigs
  • 2 medium-size oranges, cut into quarters
  • 1 large lemon cut into quarters
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) water
  • 12 orange pekoe black tea bags
  • Blueberry Simple Syrup (recipe below)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) water
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  1. Combine the chicken thighs and Blueberry Sweet Tea Brine (recipe below) in a large bowl and refrigerate 4 hours or up to overnight.
  2. Heat broiler with oven rack 6 inches from heat.
  3. Remove the chicken from the brine, and pat dry with paper towels. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Rub with the oil, and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
  4. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, and top with a wire rack. Place chicken, skin side up, on rack, and broil until skin is golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes. Turn chicken over, and broil until chicken starts to pull away from the bone, about 10 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  5. BLUEBERRY SWEET TEA BRINE: Add the salt, black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, garlic, star anise, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and orange and lemon quarters to the Blueberry Sweet Tea (recipe below), squeezing the citrus juice into the pan as you add them. Return to medium-high and bring to to a simmer. Remove from the heat, and let stand for 1 hour. Remove the solids, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  6. BLUEBERRY SWEET TEA: Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the tea bags, and remove from the heat. Cover and let stand 7 minutes. Stir in the Blueberry Simple Syrup (recipe below), and cool complete, about 20 minutes.
  7. BLUEBERRY SIMPLE SYRUP: Bring the sugar, lemon zest, peppercorns, star anise, and 2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan over medium. Add the blueberries and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand 30 minutes. Mash the blueberries in the syrup using a potato masher or the back of a slotted spoon. Pour the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

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