Monday, November 21, 2011

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

I recently bought Thomas Keller's book Ad Hoc at Home. To be honest, I wasn't overly impressed with the book as a whole. However, I can see how it would be a great book for other cooks looking for "Keller influenced" cooking that doesn't involve a lot of time and money. Anyway, I am not here to be a critic. What I am here to do is share a recipe with you. A damn good one if you ask me too.

Let me note that I am not using his recipe exactly here. I actually doctored it into what I thought was a better recipe so I wouldn't have to worry about any intellectual property complaints.

What sets this fried chicken recipe apart is the tempering, brining and the coating. After that, it is like every other fried chicken recipe. I would suggest using a deep fryer to make this. I use a Cool Daddy made by Presto for this recipe. Make sure to finish the chicken off in a 400F oven too. The chicken won't dry out but it probably wont be fully cooked when you take it out of the oil.

If you don't have a deep fryer at home I suggest you don't make this recipe unless you have deep fried in a pot yourself. It's much more arduous and dangerous, not to mention more expensive. (You'll probably throw away a good amount of oil after making the fried chicken this way.) If you do want to fry it in a pot here are the rules:

1. Use the tallest pot you have.
2. Fill it no more than 1/3 the way with oil. (Canola, vegetable, or peanut oil only.)
3. Use a candy thermometer to read the temperature and heat the oil to 375F as closely as you can at all times.
4. Maintain the temperature as you cook the chicken by increasing or decreasing the flame accordingly.
5. Make sure you let the oil come to back 375F before you cook more chicken.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken:

Chicken and Brine:
4-6 lbs chicken thighs and drumsticks, with skin
Brine Recipe

1. Throw the chicken in the brine for 2 to 8 hours in the fridge.
2. Remove chicken and pat dry.
3. Leave chicken at room temperature to temper. No more than three hours.

Coating and Cooking:
4 cups of sifted flour (Sifting is essential here! You'll end up with way too much flour in the coating if you don't!)
1 heaping tablespoons pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 quart buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Preheat oil to 375F.
2. Mix flour, salt, and pepper. Divide coating between to large bowls.
3. Pour buttermilk into a deep and narrow container. (See pictures below.)
4. Using your left hand, pick up a chicken piece and dunk it in the first thing of flour. Cover the chicken evenly in flour and shake off excess.
5. With your left hand, drop the chicken piece into the buttermilk and make sure it is covered.
6. With your right hand, remove chicken piece and place in the second flour bowl. Using your left hand, pick up some of the flour in the bowl and cover the to of the chicken with flour. Make sure the chicken is covered in flour, using your right hand only. Shake off excess and place on a dry clean surface. (Using the hand technique results in one dry hand and one wet hand, instead of two wet hands. This will make the breading a lot easier.)
7. Repeat with one more piece of chicken.
8. Carefully add chicken pieces to oil and wait two minutes.
9. Using tongs, move chicken around a little to ensure even frying, or flip thighs if needed.
10. Fry for another 10 minutes.
11. While they fry, bread two more pieces of chicken.
12. Remove and place the fried chicken on a wire rack, then place the wire rack on a sheet pan. (We want to avoid as much contact as possible with the coating to avoid  a mushy crust.) Put the pan in the oven to cook the chicken the rest of the way through, and to keep it warm while the rest of the chicken is frying.
13. Do the rest of the chicken in the same fashion. Be careful to remove the earlier cooked pieces of chicken from the oven once they start to show signs of the crust blackening.
14. Let chicken pieces cool off a bit, say 5 to 20 minutes then serve.

**NOTE: Do not add more than two pieces at a time to the oil! If you do, your oil will become too cold and eventually soak into the chicken. YUCK!
A proper breading station.

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