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4 to 6 servings

For the brine:

5 cups Coca-Cola

1 tablespoon kosher salt

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10 sprigs fresh thyme

4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

4 teaspoons mild hot sauce like Crystal, Texas Pete or Cholula

8 to 12 chicken thighs, preferably free-range, organic

For the seasoned flour:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika

1½ teaspoons garlic powder

1½ teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the frying:

3 cups peanut oil

1 cup lard, optional, or replace with peanut oil

Hot sauce, for serving

Make the brine: Combine cola, salt, thyme, garlic and hot sauce in a large metal bowl and stir until the salt has dissolved. Add the chicken thighs, cover and refrigerate three to five hours.

Make the seasoned flour: In a wide, shallow bowl or pan, combine the flour, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne.

3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put the peanut oil into a large, heavy-bottom pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until it reaches 375 degrees on a candy thermometer. While the oil heats, remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Dredge the thighs in the flour and shake to remove excess.

4. Working in batches of two or three at a time, carefully lower thighs into the hot oil. The oil temperature will plummet when the cold chicken goes into the pan; turn up the heat and carefully monitor the temperature. Cook for a little more than three minutes on one side, a little more than three minutes on the other, and then a final three minutes on the first side. Remove to a wire rack or paper towel to drain.

5. The juices should run clear when the chicken is poked with a knife. If necessary, transfer the browned chicken to a baking sheet and bake until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Serve hot or at room temperature with hot sauce.

— The New York Times

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