South Carolina “Bird Dog”
This recipe is inspired by the “Bird dog”, a dish at one of our favorite local hole-in-the-wall restaurants near Greenville, SC called Mac Smith’s. This is one of those hyper-local regional favorites, to the point that Google doesn’t really know what a “Bird dog” is! Check out our blog associated with this recipe and how to make the homemade version of this classic South Carolina special, wherever you are!
- Prep Time: 2h
- Cook Time: 1h
- Total Time: 3h
- Serves: 6 people
- Yield: 4-6 Bird dogs
- Category: Meal Prep
Overnight Chicken Marinade:
- 4 Boneless chicken tenderloins or breasts (cut into 2-3 strips long-wise)
- 2 c Buttermilk (or enough to cover the chicken in a medium sized bowl)
- 3 tsp. Kosher salt
- 3 tsp. Black pepper
- 2 tsp. Cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp. Paprika
Dry Batter Ingredients:
- 1 1/2 c All-purpose flour
- 1/3 c Cornstarch
- 1 tbsp. Garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. Onion powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
- 1 tsp. Baking powder
- 1 tsp. Light brown sugar
- 3 1/2 tbsp. Honey
- 3 tbsp. Yellow Mustard
- 8 c Neutral oil for frying (canola, vegetable, etc.)
- 1 pkg Hot dog rolls, toasted
- 1 pkg Center Cut or Thick Cut Bacon, cooked
- 1 c Cheddar cheese (or non dairy alternative, we love VioLife's version), shredded
- To start, prep your buttermilk marinade, which we'll use to soak the chicken in.
- Take all the ingredients listed above for the marinade (except for the chicken) and whisk together in a medium sized bowl. If using chicken breasts and not tenderloins, cut into large finger-length-sized pieces and add to the buttermilk mixture, tossing to combine until all the chicken has been coated in the marinade. Make sure there is enough buttermilk to completely cover the chicken, if not, add more.
- Cover with plastic wrap or another airtight lid and leave in the refrigerator to rest overnight (or two hours minimum if cooking the same day).
Create Dry Batter & Cook Chicken:
- Whisk flour, cornstarch, brown sugar, and spices in a medium bowl. Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge the buttermilk chicken in flour mixture, turning to coat and packing into crevices until little space is left un-coated. Shake gently to remove excess.
- Pour neutral oil (we used canola/vegetable oil) into a large heavy pot until it's halfway full. Heat the dutch oven over medium-high until thermometer registers 350°. Either fit the pot with a candy thermometer or have a digital thermometer on hand to check the temperature of the oil periodically.
- Working in batches, slowly lower the dredged chicken (using heat-safe tongs) into the oil away from you, turning it often and adjusting the heat to maintain the oil temperature in the previous step. Fry until the chicken turns a deep golden brown, or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165*F, about 5–10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a wire rack set over a baking sheet to drain and cool for a few minutes.
- Start with making the honey mustard! Take approximately equal amounts of yellow mustard and honey and whisk together until combined. Add more honey or mustard to taste as desired.
- Cook bacon using your preferred method! We like to cook it in the microwave on a dinner plate between three layers of paper towels (above and below), with 3-4 pieces per batch for about 2:30-3 minutes, depending on your microwave and thickness of bacon. Replace paper towels for each new batch and let cooked bacon rest on a clean plate with on top of a paper towel to absorb any remaining grease.
- Heat a dry large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Brush sides of your hot dog buns (as many as needed for serving size desired) with butter and toast until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.
- To assemble, start with the toasted hot dog buns, adding a layer of cheddar cheese to the inside of the rolls. Then add 1-2 slices of crispy bacon, a piece or two of chicken (depending on how big they ended up), and drizzle with honey mustard!
- Any remaining honey mustard will stay good in a Tupperware in the fridge for at least 1-2 weeks, and the chicken left over can be used up to one week in the fridge for any other recipes - chicken salad, chicken and waffles, cut up on nachos, you name it! Enjoy and let us know if you try this recipe!