When I heard that Ad Hoc’s lemon-brined fried chicken recipe was in Food & Wine magazine, I got extremely excited. Normally, I wouldn’t go to the trouble of making this because I’d rather go to Ad Hoc (picture below) and spare myself the work, but I just had to see if I could pull this off.
Excerpt from Entertaining Napa Style in Food & Wine magazine:
To make this juicy and delectably crisp chicken, Thomas Keller soaks it in a lemony brine, then coats and fries it. The chicken, which is served every other Monday at Ad Hoc, is one of the most popular dishes at the restaurant. “Since Fried Chicken Night only happens twice a month,” Keller says, “people have a wonderful sense of anticipation.”
I’ve had the chance to make this fried chicken a lot in the last few months and have basically finalized it for myself in the updated recipe below. I’ve included a sous vide step, an updated ingredient list and double dredging. If you want to see the original recipe, see the link to Food & Wine magazine above.
ACTIVE TIME: 1 HR 30 MIN
16 chicken thighs and/or drumsticks (I prefer dark meat, substitute as desired)
Cooking oil for frying (peanut if you have it.)
Rosemary and thyme sprigs, for garnish
1 gallon cold water
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
12 bay leaves
1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
3 large rosemary sprigs
1 small bunch of thyme
1 small bunch of parsley
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon ground pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups buttermilk
- In a very large pot, combine 1 quart of the water with 1 cup of the salt and the honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Add the lemon zest and juice and the lemon halves and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Let cool completely, then stir in the remaining 3 quarts of cold water. Add the chickens, being sure they’re completely submerged, and refrigerate overnight.
- Drain and rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry. Make sure the chicken is really dry and that you scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the skin.
- If you want to sous vide the chicken before frying, add two to three pieces of chicken to each Foodsaver bag, then vacuum and seal the bags. Place the chicken at 140F/60C water bath for at least 1 hour. Otherwise, skip to step 5.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the bag and pat dry with paper towels. Make sure chicken is very dry.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, ground black pepper and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Put the buttermilk in a large, shallow bowl. Working with a few pieces at a time, dip the chicken in the buttermilk, then dredge in the flour mixture, pressing so it adheres all over. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with wax paper or use a wire rack. Let sit for 20 minutes and then redredge the chicken in buttermilk and flour before frying.
- In a very large pot or dutch oven, heat oil to 360F. Use enough oil to deep fry the chicken. If you want, you can also pan fry the chicken, as seen below. Fry the chicken in 2 or 3 batches until golden and crunchy and the internal temperature is 160F/60C (about 20 minutes).
Note: If you cooked the chicken sous vide, you can really just trust your judgement and fry until you’re statisfied with the color of the crust since the chicken is already cooked.
- Transfer the chicken to cooling rack to drain, and keep warm in a low oven (175–200F) while you fry the remaining chicken pieces. Transfer the fried chicken to a platter, garnish with the herb sprigs and serve hot or at room temperature.
SOUS VIDE NOTES
- Cooking the chicken sous vide ensures that it’s moist and tender.
- 140F/60C may seem like a low temp for the chicken (160F/71.1C is considered “safe”), but the internal temperature of the chicken will rise when it’s being fried.
- Chicken should be at room temperature when you’re ready to cook.
- You can add herbs (rosemary, thyme, etc.) to the oil as it’s heating to infuse it with flavor and then use the same herbs as a garnish.
- This fried chicken is great the next day, cold and straight out of the refrigerator.
- See comments below for more tips…some come straight from the source!