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Ad Hoc at Home Hardcover – November 6, 2009
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From Ad Hoc at Home: Buttermilk Fried Chicken
If there's a better fried chicken, I haven't tasted it. First, and critically, the chicken is brined for 12 hours in a herb-lemon brine, which seasons the meat and helps it stay juicy. The flour is seasoned with garlic and onion powders, paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper. The chicken is dredged in the seasoned flour, dipped in buttermilk, and then dredged again in the flour. The crust becomes almost feathered and is very crisp. Fried chicken is a great American tradition that’s fallen out of favor. A taste of this, and you will want it back in your weekly routine. --Thomas Keller
- Two 2 1/2- to 3-pound chickens (see Note on Chicken Size)
- Chicken Brine (recipe follows), cold
- Peanut or canola oil for deep-frying
- 1 quart buttermilk
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup garlic powder
- 1/4 cup onion powder
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Ground fleur de sel or fine sea salt
- Rosemary and thyme sprigs for garnish
For Dredging and Frying
Cut each chicken into 10 pieces: 2 legs, 2 thighs, 4 breast quarters, and 2 wings. Pour the brine into a container large enough to hold the chicken pieces, add in the chicken, and refrigerate for 12 hours (no longer, or the chicken may become too salty).
Remove the chicken from the brine (discard the brine) and rinse under cold water, removing any herbs or spices sticking to the skin. Pat dry with paper towels, or let air-dry. Let rest at room temperature for 1-1/2 hours, or until it comes to room temperature.
If you have two large pots (about 6 inches deep) and a lot of oil, you can cook the dark and white meat at the same time; if not, cook the dark meat first, then turn up the heat and cook the white meat. No matter what size pot you have, the oil should not come more than one-third of the way up the sides of the pot. Fill the pot with at least 2 inches of peanut oil and heat to 320°F. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper.
Meanwhile, combine all the coating ingredients in a large bowl. Transfer half the coating to a second large bowl. Pour the buttermilk into a third bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set up a dipping station: the chicken pieces, one bowl of coating, the bowl of buttermilk, the second bowl of coating, and the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Just before frying, dip the chicken thighs into the first bowl of coating, turning to coat and patting off the excess; dip them into the buttermilk, allowing the excess to run back into the bowl; then dip them into the second bowl of coating. Transfer to the parchment-lined pan.
Carefully lower the thighs into the hot oil. Adjust the heat as necessary to return the oil to the proper temperature. Fry for 2 minutes, then carefully move the chicken pieces around in the oil and continue to fry, monitoring the oil temperature and turning the pieces as necessary for even cooking, for 11 to 12 minutes, until the chicken is a deep golden brown, cooked through, and very crisp. Meanwhile, coat the chicken drumsticks and transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Transfer the cooked thighs to the cooling rack skin-side-up and let rest while you fry the remaining chicken. (Putting the pieces skin-side-up will allow excess fat to drain, whereas leaving them skin-side-down could trap some of the fat.) Make sure that the oil is at the correct temperature, and cook the chicken drumsticks. When the drumsticks are done, lean them meat-side-up against the thighs to drain, then sprinkle the chicken with fine sea salt.
Turn up the heat and heat the oil to 340°F. Meanwhile, coat the chicken breasts and wings. Carefully lower the chicken breasts into the hot oil and fry for 7 minutes, or until golden brown, cooked through, and crisp. Transfer to the rack, sprinkle with salt, and turn skin side up. Cook the wings for 6 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer the wings to the rack and turn off the heat. Arrange the chicken on a serving platter. Add the herb sprigs to the oil (which will still be hot) and let them cook and crisp for a few seconds, then arrange them over the chicken.
Note on Chicken Size: You may need to go to a farmers' market to get these small chickens. Grocery store chickens often run 3 to 4 pounds. They can, of course, be used in this recipe but if chickens in the 2-1/2- to 3-pound range are available to you, they're worth seeking out. They’re a little easier to cook properly at the temperatures we recommend here and, most important, pieces this size result in the optimal meat-to-crust proportion, which is such an important part of the pleasure of fried chicken.
Note: We let the chicken rest for 7 to 10 minutes after it comes out of the fryer so that it has a chance to cool down. If the chicken has rested for longer than 10 minutes, put the tray of chicken in a 400°F oven for a minute or two to ensure that the crust is crisp and the chicken is hot.Chicken Brine
Makes 2 gallons
- 5 lemons, halved
- 24 bay leaves
- 1 bunch (4 ounces) flat-leaf parsley
- 1 bunch (1 ounce) thyme
- 1/2 cup clover honey
- 1 head garlic, halved through the equator
- 3/4 cup black peppercorns
- 2 cups (10 ounces) kosher salt, preferably Diamond Crystal
- 2 gallons water
The key ingredient here is the lemon, which goes wonderfully with chicken, as do the herbs: bay leaf, parsley, and thyme. This amount of brine will be enough for 10 pounds.
Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and cool completely, then chill before using. The brine can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
Keller delivers on this promise in ad hoc. The book assumes far less prerequisite knowledge than his other books, The French Laundry, Bouchon, and Under Pressure. In fact, the first section of the book is called "Becoming a better chef," and Keller outlines the techniques, ingredients, and tools that can help anyone become a better home cook.
I own all 3 of Keller's other books, and regularly cook from them. This is, by far, the most accessible book for the casual home cook. The recipes in here can easily be made as weeknight meals--most don't require any excessive time demands or preparation. Many of the recipes are dishes you're probably familiar with: chicken pot pie, fried chicken, braised short ribs, beef stroganoff, apple fritters, chocolate brownies, etc. But, this being a Thomas Keller book, many of these classic dishes are refined and made more elegant. For example, his beef stroganoff uses fresh cremini mushrooms, creme fraiche, braised short ribs, and pappardelle pasta. All of the recipes I've made have turned out perfectly so far, which has been the case with his previous books.
Consistent with his previous books, the look of ad hoc is beautiful. It's also a nice change to see Keller's fun side featured, and he's displayed in a number of whimsical photographs throughout the book, warning you: "shh...Read more ›
If you've been cooking for many years some of the tips you may have known: put a towel under your cutting board, you only really need four knives, some salts weigh differently; however, others will most likely be new if you haven't cooked out of TK's other cookbooks. Thinking back on the difficulties I had when I first started cooking, how I wish all of these things had been spelled out to me as clearly and as simply as they are in this book.Read more ›
Lets take the famous fried chicken recipe. It doesn't start with a simple set of ingredients and steps on how to do it. It first will train you on how to use the basic tools in your repertoire. Then it will take you through the process of choosing the right ingredients and how to manage them (think spice dating). Then comes the crucial part of choosing the right bird. Then cutting the bird so it will walk you through the various ways of cutting the chicken and how it will impact various meals you will prepare on your own and through this book.
The best thing about this book is that it will teach you to be a better chef with the recipes you are already familiar with and cooking on a daily basis as well as introduce you to a wealth of recipes that will truly expand your horizons. Truly a masterpiece.
Having cooked (and learned a tremendous amount) out of "Under Pressure" and "Bouchon" (having spent 5 hours caramelizing onions for TK's onion soup I now claim that I engage in "extreme cooking"), I was very happy when "Ad Hoc at Home" arrived. On the surface, it looks great.
Last night I made the caramelized scallop recipe which is simply brined scallops sauted in clarified butter over high heat. This recipe ruined $20 work of scallops because its brine is 10 cups of water (5 lbs) and 2 cups of salts (1 lb) for a 17% brine. This brine way oversalted the scallops even though they were only in it for the recommended 10 minutes (actually a little less since the scallops were smaller than the U7s called for in the recipe). I thought something was amiss when making the brine but was only sure after the fact.
The problem was that I used Morton's Kosher Salt instead of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, which is way less dense. Page 52 of this book talks about the different salts, but who reads page 52 before trying an interesting looking recipe? So be warned, use Diamond Crystal for recipes in this book.
I love the book's recommendation to temper poultry before roasting it. I've been doing this for years to avoid uneven roasting, and am very happy a cookbook is willing to discuss this technique in these days of overblown microbe fears.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautiful large heavy cook book with great pictures, cooking tips more than just riecepes.Published 22 days ago by Brie S
This is an awesome recipe book. So far I've made the lemon bars, chocolate chip cookies, and brioche and they all turned out great! Read morePublished 3 months ago by JL