Cooking with Beer: Fried Chicken Thighs with Grits and Charred Corn–Red Onion Relish

Two splashes of hazy IPA add juicy subtlety to this comforting, moderately spicy fried chicken showcase.

Christopher Cina May 28, 2023 - 5 min read

Cooking with Beer: Fried Chicken Thighs with Grits and Charred Corn–Red Onion Relish Primary Image

Christopher Cina

Serves: 4

Fried Chicken Thighs

  • 4 boneless chicken thighs, trimmed
  • 1 Tbs garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • ½ cup (118 ml) hazy IPA
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cup (473 ml) milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (237 ml) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (118 ml) cornstarch
  • Frying oil

In a medium bowl, combine the chicken thighs, garlic, red pepper, IPA, and salt. Mix well. Allow the chicken to marinate for 4 hours in the refrigerator. While the chicken thighs are marinating, prepare the relish; about 30 minutes before serving time, prepare the grits (see recipes below).

Set the fryer to 325°F (163°C) or use a high-sided pot on the stove with a thermometer. In a shallow bowl, mix the milk and eggs. On a plate, mix the flour and cornstarch. Place the chicken thighs in the egg mixture and coat well. Then dredge the chicken thighs in the flour mixture and coat well, knocking off any excess.

Fry the chicken thighs for 15–20 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). With a slotted spoon, remove the thighs to a rack covered with paper towels and allow to drain.


To serve, mound grits on 4 plates, then flatten the mounds. Place a chicken thigh on each flattened mound of grits. Garnish each thigh with about ½ cup (118 ml) Corn–Red Onion Relish.

Charred Corn–Red Onion Relish

  • 2 ears corn, cleaned
  • 1 small red onion, cut into ½" (13 mm) thick slices
  • 1 cup (237 ml) cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • ¼ cup (59 ml) extra virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling
  • ¼ cup (59 ml) hazy IPA
  • Kosher salt
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper

Lightly oil the corn and red onion. Grill over high heat until they begin to char slightly. Remove from the grill and allow to cool. Slice the corn from the cob. Dice the grilled red onion. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Season to taste with the salt and black pepper. Set aside while you prepare the grits and fry the chicken thighs.


  • 3 cup (710 ml) whole milk
  • 1½ cup (355 ml) water
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup (237 ml) regular grits
  • ¼ cup (59 ml) unsalted butter, cut into 1" (25 mm) cubes
  • ½ cup (118 ml) Parmesan cheese, grated

In a large saucepan, combine the milk, water, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and whisk in the grits until well-combined and the mixture begins to thicken. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25–30 minutes, stirring every 4–5 minutes, until the grits become tender and have thickened to the consistency of thick oatmeal. Remove the pan from the heat and fold in the butter and Parmesan. Let rest covered until serving. Serve hot.

Beer Tasting Notes: The sweet citrus and tropical fruit–forward notes of many hazy (or New England–style) IPAs add obvious allure with significantly less acidity than a marinade of orange juice alone might provide. The low bitterness of the beer style works well in this context, although the fact that the marinade isn’t reduced offers some flexibility in the beer you choose. Lean toward a more overtly fruity double or triple IPA if your goal is something everyone will enjoy, or push the thiols in your thighs if you’re looking for a more focused and zippy bite.

Beer Suggestions: Tree House King Julius (Charlton, Massachusetts), WeldWerks Extra Extra Juicy Bits (Greeley, Colorado), Firestone Walker Double Mind Haze (Paso Robles, California), Hop Butcher Run to Daylight (Chicago).