Iced tea has always been a big part of the South's food culture, but more and more, I have recently been hearing about sweet tea being used as a marinade for chicken.
I was in Hattiesburg a few weeks ago and Mississippi chef Robert St. John had tea and butter milk marinated fried chicken on his menu at Branch. It's the Wednesday special.
Back on the Coast, I had a tea-marinated baked chicken, prepared by Chef Sarah Cormier at Coast, the sports bar at the Beau, both were great.
There is more to cooking great fried or baked chicken, however, than just a marinade and both chefs who made it for me are world class, but it is worth a try, even for us non-pros.
SWEET TEA MARINADE FOR CHICKEN
1 quart sweet tea
1/4 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 sliced lemon
4-6 cloves crushed garlic
Combine all of the ingredients, place in a large Ziploc bag, along with the chicken and marinade overnight. Remove from the refrigerator, drain and allow the chicken to approach room temperature. Proceed with your favorite recipe for baking or frying. Serve with classic side dishes, such as greens, mashed potatoes and gravy.