Whether times are good or bad, Southerners always “say it” with food. Family misfortune often produces a plate of creamy mashed potatoes, while collard greens or carmel cakes can buoy luck or celebrate birthdays.
The king of comfort food remains fried chicken. The crispy treat has been used by countless grandmothers to soothe souls of their loved ones. It’s been happening for generations and continues today. And it doesn’t matter what background one comes from — it is a dish that’s celebrated across the spectrum from a tiny, “mom and pop” roadside diner to some of the most prestigious venues in the world.
Just ask staff at Sea Island. One of the five star resort’s favorite menu items is, in fact, a fried chicken dish. Sandra Porter, operations programming manager at Sea Island, says their honey money chicken has long been a staple for guests and members.
“It just doesn’t get more Southern than that. It’s something that we featured in our recent cook book but it has been around forever. The guests and members just adore it. It’s actually from Broadfield,” Porter said referencing Sea Island’s hunting property in Woodbine.
The cook book, titled “Sea Island Soul of the South,” was released with its sister book, “The Broadmore Spirit of the West,” in early July. It features a number of classic dishes the resorts’ chefs regularly serve up at various restaurants on or owned by the property. Some of those, like the Honey Money chicken, will be shared with those attending the annual Southern Grown Festival.
Running Friday to Sunday, the celebration of all things Southern will be highly food-centric. Beginning with the Garden and Gun dinner Friday evening, the weekend will be filled with all of the flavors that make the region so special.
“Our kick off dinner will be held on the Black Bank terrace. We will be having different dinner stations and Chef Kenny Gilbert (a Top Chef competitor) will be our headlining chef. He previously worked with us at The Lodge so we have a history. He will be doing demos throughout the weekend,” Porter said.
Other chefs will get in on the act, preparing various items. Sea Island and Caroline’s Cakes will even step in to offer some sweet treats.
“Caroline’s Cakes will offer some decadent seven layer carmel cake and Sea Island will do a pie display,” Porter said. “It will all complement what Chef Kenny is doing.”
On Saturday, culinary and wildlife displays and demonstrations will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Mitzner Ballroom on Sea Island. That evening, the highlight will be NEEDTOBREATHE, featuring a number of dining options at Rainbow Island on Sea Island.
“We will have food truck vendors in the parking lot of Rainbow Island. They will serve up different things like Latin fusion, barbecue from our friends at Southern Soul and burgers from Certified Burgers. Sea Island will also be serving our Honey Money Chicken and our Palmetto Mac and Cheese, as well as the Gold Brick Icecream Sandwich,” Porter said.
“The gates will open early so everyone can eat before, during or after the concert.”
But for those looking to create the scrumptious meal at home, the recipe is below:
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 quart buttermilk
1/4 cup Cajun spice
1 tablespoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
3 cups All-purpose Flour
1 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons dry mustard
3 tablespoons granulated garlic
3 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1. Mix buttermilk marinade ingredients well, then add chicken. Marinate chicken 24 hours. After marinating, remove chicken from liquid and pat dry.
2. Preheat fryer oil to 350.° Place chicken in the seasoned flour mixture and coat generously. Let chicken stand 10 minutes while coated with flour mixture.
3. Fry chicken for 10 minutes or until internal temperature is 155.° Let chicken rest in a warm place until ready to serve. If you prefer chicken more well done, cook an extra 5 minutes in the fryer, or remove from fryer and bake in a 325° oven for 15 minutes. Toss in Honey Money Sauce (recipe below) and serve with waffles (recipe page 110).
Honey Money Sauce
Makes about 3 cups
2 cups local wildflower honey
1 cup hot water
1 tablespoon blackening seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Place honey into a medium mixing bowl and, with a whisk, slowly incorporate hot water until homogenous. (You may not need all the water.) Add blackening spice, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss chicken into sauce and serve.