IngredientsFor the brine
- 2 cups unsweetened tea
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 chicken thighs, skin and bones discarded
- 2 cups ice
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons Hungarian hot paprika
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 2 eggs, whisked
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce (I like Cholula here)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- Peanut oil, for frying
- 8 (1/2-inch) slices brioche bread (try to make sure there are no major holes in the slices)
- 12 tablespoons salted butter
- 8 thick slices maple smoked cheddar
- 4 ounces shredded smoked Gouda
- 4 ounces Bodensee butterkase (or any mild, firm, raw cow’s milk cheese)
- 3/4 cup grade A maple syrup
Brine the chicken.
In a medium pot on medium-high heat add the tea, sugar, salt, and garlic. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from the heat and add the ice then stir to melt. Add the chicken once the brine is cooled.
Place all in a resealable plastic bag with as much air squeezed out as possible.
Refrigerate 6-8 hours and rest for 2 hours at room temperature before frying.
Fry the chicken.
In a large bowl combine the flour, cornstarch, Hungarian hot paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
In another large bowl whisk together the eggs, water, hot sauce, and maple syrup. Remove chicken from the brine and shake off excess liquid.
Using tongs, first drop a few pieces at a time in the flour mixture and coat, shake off the excess flour then dunk them in the egg mixture, shake off excess, then drop them back in the flour mixture.
Shake off the excess four and rest them pieces of dredged chicken on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
In a large pan with straight sides add enough oil to fill it to 1-inch and heat until oil begins to swirl or a thermometer reads 360˚F. When oil is ready add the dredged and rested chicken, being sure to not overcrowd the oil. The temperature should rest around 350˚F as you fry the pieces.
Flip them halfway through frying if needed to cook the other side and remove when chicken is cooked through, about 6-8 minutes total.
Remove all to a paper-towel lined plate and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Once cool to the touch, slice into bite-sized pieces.
Assemble and grill the sandwiches.
Preheat a seasoned cast-iron griddle on medium heat.
On one side of each piece of bread spread 1 tablespoon of butter.
Place 4 slices of bread on the griddle, buttered side down. Brush the tops of each slice with maple syrup. Layer each piece of bread with a slice of smoked maple cheddar, and equal amount of smoked Gouda, chicken, butterkase and another slice of smoked maple cheddar.
Take another piece of buttered bread and brush the inside of it with maple syrup and place it buttered side up on top of the sandwich.
Flip with a peek beneath reveals a golden crust. Once flipped, top with aluminum foil and press with weight of another pan or baking sheet until cheese is melted and a peek beneath the second side reveals a golden crust.
Remove to a cutting board and allow to set 2 minutes, then slice each in half. Serve warm.