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Thomas Keller's Fried Chicken

His recipe was in a recent Bon Appetit and I've eaten the fried chicken twice at Ad Hoc, his restaurant in Yountville, CA.
I'm thinking of attempting it. You first brine it for 24 hrs. Calls for brining whole chicken then cutting it up before battering and frying. I don't know how to cut one up and don't want to tackle this on my own.
Would it be ok to brine an already cut up chicken?

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  1. Although I have no real scientific or culinary basis for this....I think it'd be fine to brine the already cut up chicken. Maybe you should brine it for a couple of hours fewer.....Good luck.

    1. I have brined chicken parts with success but they only need 1hour rather than 4 hours for a whole chicken.
      Could you share Thomas Keller's recipe with us...he is such a knowledgeable and respected chef.
      Thanks in advance

      9 Replies
      1. re: bevo

        This was in this month's (Sept 08) Bon Appetit. (I could not find it in Epicurious but maybe it takes time to get there.) I'll try my best at paraphrasing -- I'm going to halve the recipe.

        Brine: 24 c water, 1 c coarse kosher salt, 1/2 c plus 1 T honey, 18 Turkish bay leaves,
        30 smashed, unpeeled garlic cloves, 3 T whole black peppercorns, 6 sprigs fresh rosemary, 1 1/2 bunches fresh thyme sprigs, 1 1/2 bunches fresh Italian parsley,
        2 T finely grated lemon peel, 3/4 c fresh lemon juice.

        Bring these ingredients to boil for 1 minute, stir to dissolve salt. Cool. Chill brine until cold, about 2 hrs.

        3 3 1.2 lb chickens: Rinse chickens, add to brine, pressing to submerge. Chill at least 12 hrs, and up to 24 hrs.

        Drain, pat dry, removing herbs & spices. Cut each chicken into 8 pieces.

        Frying: Line 2 large baking sheets w/parchment paper. Mix 6 c all-purpose flour,
        5 T garlic powder, 5 T onion powder, 4 tsp paprika, 4 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper and 4 tsp coarse kosher salt in large bowl.

        Place 6 c buttermilk in another large bowl. Dip chicken in flour mixture, shake off excess. Dip in buttermilk, then, into flour mixture again -- do not shake off excess this time. Place on prepared sheets, let stand 1 - 2 hrs at room temp. to dry.

        Pour 12 c peanut oil into heavy large pot. Attach deep-fry thermometer to side of pot, heat med-high to 320 F to 330 F. Fry 4 pieces at a time, legs and thighs about 13 min, turning once with wooden spoons, until golden. Transfer to paper towels and sprinkle with coarse salt. Breasts take about 7 min.

        Serve warm or let stand up to 2 hrs. at room temp.

        Let me know if you make it. I'm going to buy the best possible chicken I can find when I get around to cooking this. It tastes really great at his restaurant.

        1. re: walker

          Does anybody else think this brine sounds incredibly wasteful?

          30 garlic cloves? 18 Bay leaves? good grief, and then it all gets thrown away?

          1. re: duckdown

            Well, it's for 3 chickens.

            1. re: duckdown

              No. It imparts an incredible amount of flavor as opposed to say just adding 1, which would truly be wasteful because you wouldn't notice the flavor. Besides, bay leaves and garlic cloves are cheap easy to get.

            2. re: walker

              Please do report back after you make this! It's been on my to-cook list since I saw the recipe in Bon Appetit.

              Interestingly, below is a link to a slightly different version of the Ad Hoc fried chicken from Food & Wine Oct 07. The recipe above from BA is more recent though, and I like the addition of paprika.

              http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/le...

              1. re: Carb Lover

                I prepared this a few weeks ago, like the first Sunday after I got the new issue in the mail.
                Very good fried chicken. I fried it on the stovetop, as I do not have a deep fryer as the recipe calls for (I believe). The chicken came out incredibly moist due to the brining. I will def use this recipe as a base for my fried chicken from here on out, may season the flour a little differently, but all in all a great recipe.

                1. re: roro1831

                  Was the chicken cut up before or after brining? Did you fry in peanut oil? How long did you brine?

            3. re: bevo

              The full recipe is listed on Amazon's Ad Hoc page.

              http://www.amazon.com/Ad-Hoc-Home-Tho...

              It says cut the chicken before brining for no longer than 12 hours.

              1. re: cutipie721

                i've done it with thighs and legs for about 18 hours. came out great.

            4. For future reference, cutting up a chicken is really easy. If you just Google "cutting up a chicken video" you will be entertained for hours. Here's a straightforward video. http://www.chow.com/stories/10080
              The first time you do it will be the only practice you'll need. After that, you'll know how.

              8 Replies
              1. re: yayadave

                I'll take a look but I think I need someone by my side teaching me; too bad I never learned from my grandmother. I am very proud that I just taught myself how to make fresh pasta -- I'm sure that would have been easier if I'd been taught how by someone with experience.

                1. re: walker

                  I learned how by following Bittman's instructions in "How to Cook Everything". They're illustrated but no photos or videos (obviously). It went fine. It really does look harder than it is.

                  I'd suggest just doing it. It's not hard at all, and you'll save a ton of money buying whole chickens vs expensive cut-up chickens. I was annoyed at how afraid I'd been to try it after I discovered just how easy it is.

                  1. re: walker

                    As I said, the videos make it easier. The first time it is never-never land. After that it's like making toast.
                    Sometimes you have to weigh the upsides and the down sides.
                    The upsides are: 1. You gain a new cooking skill, and that really feels good. 2. You'll save some money on chicken.
                    The downside is: You might screw up a $2 chicken the first time. So what! It'll still be edible.
                    Don't worry about looking foolish. Remember, it'll still be edible. Worst case, you throw everything in a big pot with water, aromatics, and seasoning, and make soup.

                    As an aside, there are all kinds of cooking videos available.

                    1. re: walker

                      It is so easy you will never buy a whole cut up chicken again.

                      1. re: scubadoo97

                        Where I buy chicken, they don't charge extra to cut it in to pieces. Any time I've tried to do it, it slides around and I just don't enjoy doing it. Guess if I did a few I'd get good at it but I don't really need to do it.

                        1. re: walker

                          Yes, the place where I buy mine is the same - and I ask them to include the backs, etc. when they cut up the chicken.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            That's good. I have sooo many bags of chicken backs and discards (heart,gizzards, necks and wing tips) in the freezer for making stock. The stuff mutiples in the freezer I think. The liver I usually cooked on the spot for a chef's treat. When you cut a lot of chickens you get a better apprciation for the basic anatomy which is a good thing.

                            1. re: scubadoo97

                              I find myself reaching for those little bags at times when I want to build up my sauce or gravy. I toss them in and it will make a noteable difference between a bland sauce and a tasty sauce. It really doesn't take a many pieces either, wing tips are wonderful for building sauces.Be sure to strain the sauce afterward, I do that anyway for a smoother sauce.

                  2. An interesting web on the topic......(scroll down the page)
                    http://thebittenword.typepad.com/theb...

                    (for those brave enough to try!
                    )http://www.cookingforengineers.com/ar...

                    1. For those who have attempted it, when you brine the chicken do you take out the bay leaves and other remains at the bottom of the pot or do you strain them out?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: overresearched

                        you take the chicken out of the brine to dry, batter and fry, and leave all the other stuff behind.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          hey! hotoynoodle. i use canola oil for deep frying this bm fried chicken of ad hoc in stainless pot with thermometer. i used bit less than 2 quarts of canola oil. when i drop the chiken pieces, temps spike up quit fast. and i have to adjust. according to some, the temp is supposed to be rather droped as soon as one drops the pieces. why is mine rather spiked up?. and the color of mine was qite deep brown in the end although i am not saying it is burned.
                          i seached many bloggers who posted photos of this duplicated dish. theirs are mostly deep brown. if i use much more amount of oil than 2 quarts, do you think result would be more consistent like how the cookbook says?

                      2. My son and I made this the other day, and it is now our go-to fried chicken recipe. We pretty much followed the recipe to the letter with the exception of using a less expensive canola/vegetable oil blend in place of peanut oil, which is pretty pricey. We brined the chicken for about 24 hrs.

                        Unfortunately, my deep-fry thermometer bit the dust so we had to estimate the temp of the oil. The first batch was too dark, but the rest turned out perfectly. Juicy, flavorful and perfectly coated.

                        My husband looooved it, and said it was the best fried chicken he's had anywhere. Delicious served with buttermilk-carmelized shallot mashed potatoes and dijon vinaigrette green beans.

                        It sounded like a lot of work because of the number of ingredients, but came together pretty quickly once everything was assembled. There's no chopping or peeling of ingredients in the brine.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: bear

                          Forgot to say that I got a cut-up fryer, and also used six extra drumsticks. The precut chicken was fine...not over-brined and mushy at all. The only thing I would do differently would be to cut the breasts in half to have four small pieces.

                        2. For all who want to try without the hassle of buying all the brine ingredients, Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc Fried Chicken kit is now available at Williams-Sonoma. It really is great.

                          1. I brined pre-cut parts when I made this recipe before. It turns out perfect. Just make sure you weigh the salt for the brine (if you're not using the same brand of salt that he does) and everything will work out fine.
                            The recipe quoted above isn't the correct one from the book, I know from experience that if you don't bread the chicken immediately before frying they won't be of optimum crispness.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: AndrewK512

                              The original Ad Hoc recipe does not mention allowing the breaded chicken to rest for any length of time. The brine recipe above is slightly different measures of basically the same ingredients as the Ad Hoc recipe, which contains less garlic, no rosemary, more bay leaves, more peppercorns, whole lemons instead of juice and zest and the water & salt measures are off. The original recipe frys at 340°. Does it matter? Only if you're looking for complete authenticity. I'm sure the Bon Appetit recipe is very tasty.

                              For posters who don't have the book:

                              http://www.amazon.com/Ad-Hoc-Home-Tho...

                              There is a fried foods camp that stresses the importance of letting the crust dry for an hour to a few hours before frying, under refrigeration; the camp feels that the crust is actually crispier after drying than if the breading is not given time to dry and adhere to the chicken; the resting period creates better cohesion. The breaded chicken should be placed on a cooling rack for air to circulate, not directly onto a sheet pan. The notion that the crust becomes soggy while resting and will absorb more fat when fried is not really what happens; flour absorbs the moisture from the egg wash or buttermilk bath, and if the oil is up to the proper temp before the chicken is added, the hot fat will form a seal to prevent more oil absorption. Breaded food absorbs fat when the frying temperature is too low to start with or pan overcrowding lowers the frying temp. The recipe above double dips the chicken in flour for a bit thicker crust. Seasoning the chicken, either with a dry rub or by brining and single dipping in flour will result in a lighter crust.

                              That said, I fry chicken either way but find that I do get better cohesion after standard breading procedure and a lengthy rest. Crispiness can only be measured by frying temperature, food temperature when fried and frying time length, imo. I haven't noticed a difference in crispiness between breaded and rested and breaded and immediately fried, but do notice that the crust adheres better.

                              If I don't have time to let the breaded food item rest for at least an hour, I do give the breading at least 5 minutes to set up. That little bit of resting time means less loss of breading.

                            2. In the past my fried chicken has never been to my satisfaction. I used Keller's recipe this last 4th of July and both me and my guests were completely blown away. They're still talking about it to their friends! The brine is definitely worth it. As in many other situations, sometimes it takes time and money to get that extra special something. Only you can decide if it's worth it. Just a thought, but you don't cheap out on saffron, truffles, a good cut of steak, or sushi-grade tuna when you need it. I'll probably only fry chicken a couple times a year (using a lot of pricey oil as well) so for me, it's worth the bragging rights to go overboard.

                               
                              2 Replies
                              1. re: fongberg

                                I need to thaw my chicken. Is it unwise to put the frozen chicken in a cold brine to kill two birds with one stone?

                                1. re: madtheswine

                                  No, it's cool, well, cold actually, to defrost in cold brine, although I would add the extra defrosting time period (the chicken, unless whole, probably won't take very long to defrost) to the brining time.