Tejal Rao’s Fried Chicken Biscuits with Hot Honey Butter
Is there anyone who doesn’t love a Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit (affectionately known by the teen set as Hub Chub) from Whataburger? If you haven’t tried one, maybe you shouldn’t. Because once you do, you will turn into one of those people who times their visits to Whataburger based on when the Hub Chubs are available (which is late-night and breakfast).
But even with Whataburgers stationed conveniently all around our neighborhoods, sometimes it’s fun to take on a project. Especially while we are all home so much more than we ever were before 2020 hit. Here’s your cooking project for the week.
Tejal Rao published her recipe for Fried Chicken Biscuits with Hot Honey Butter in the New York Times, using a variation of Sam Sifton’s all-purpose biscuit recipe (I do love Sam Sifton). Sam suggested making these chicken biscuits for a picnic, and I took him up on it, thinking they would be fun by the pool on the Fourth of July. Thanks, Sam. I scored serious points with my nephews and daughters for these.
Crunchy fried chicken, buttery biscuits, honey and hot sauce – and more butter, this is one deliciously addictive project. Bonus that it’s also seriously portable. Whataburger, you’ve met your match.
Ingredients for the biscuits:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 ½ cups whole milk
Ingredients for the chicken:
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used boneless, skinless breasts, cut in half)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cayenne
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
3 cups panko bread crumbs
Canola or other neutral oil, for frying
Ingredients for the butter:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons honey
Hot sauce, a vinegary variety such as Crystal, to taste (I used Frank’s RedHot)
Sliced dill pickles, for serving
For the biscuits: In a bowl, use a fork to mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the butter and use the fork to mash it into the flour until the mixture resembles large, lumpy crumbs. Stir in the milk until a dough comes together.
Flour your hands, then gently gather and knead the dough in the bowl for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it springs back slightly to the touch. (If the dough is sticky, sprinkle additional flour as needed.) Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for half an hour.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough to 1- to 1 ½-inch thickness. Use a floured knife or round cutter to cut 6 biscuits, about 3 ½ inches wide. Reroll the scraps and cut again as needed.
Place the biscuits on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they have puffed up and the tops are slightly golden. Let them cool completely on a wired rack at room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container if you are not using them until the next day.
For the chicken: Trim the excess fat and any membranes from the meat, then lightly hammer the thickest parts of the thighs with a mallet or rolling pin. (I do this between two sheets of wax paper.) Season each side with salt.
Mix the flour, cayenne and salt in one wide bowl. Beat the eggs in a second wide bowl, and place the panko in a third. Dip each chicken thigh (or breast) in flour, coating it all over and patting off the excess, then in egg, allowing the extra egg to drip off, then in panko, making sure each thigh is entirely coated in bread crumbs, and using your hands to press loose crumbs into any places where they look scarce.
In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, pour in oil to a 2-inch depth and heat to 350 degrees. Fry 2 thighs at a time, flipping them over every two minutes or so, until they are golden brown and crisp all over, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to a wire rack set over a paper towel-lined sheet pan and season lightly with salt. Let the chicken cool entirely at room temperature, at least 1 hour. At this point, you can assemble the sandwiches or transfer the rack to the fridge and leave the chicken uncovered overnight.
To assemble the sandwiches: When both the chicken and biscuits have cooled (or the next day), mix together the soft butter, honey and hot sauce until smooth. Cut open the cooled biscuits, smear each cut side with honey butter, and sandwich with a piece of chicken. If you are traveling, loosely wrap each sandwich in a piece of parchment paper and pack them side by side in a hard container, in a single layer, so the sandwiches aren’t crushed. Serve with additional hot sauce and pickles on the side.
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