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Ad Hoc Foodbuzz fried chicken reviews Thomas Keller waffles

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Fried Chicken and Waffles

When the prospect of participating in Foodbuzz’s monthly 24, 24, 24 arose again a couple weeks ago, the first thing that popped into my head was throwing a chicken and waffles party. Fried chicken and waffles is one of my favorite meals in the whole world, and being from Southern California, I was first introduced to this combination at the world-famous Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in Hollywood. Personally, I think Roscoe’s waffles are much better than their chicken, and the real secret to Roscoe’s greatness is in their amazing syrup.

thigh and waffleRoscoe’s Chicken and Waffles

When I moved up to the San Francisco Bay Area 10 years ago, it was hard to find a decent substitute, and the Roscoe’s that was in Oakland at the time was a substandard knock off of the L.A. original. Over the last few years, chicken and waffle options in the Bay Area have improved, especially when the Home of Chicken and Waffles, which was originally slated to be an official Roscoe’s franchise before the owners decided to do their own thing, opened a few years ago in Oakland’s Jack London Square. It still isn’t Roscoe’s, but it satisfies the craving.

A classic combinationHome of Chicken and Waffles

The most decadent versions of chicken and waffles I’ve had have been at Sunday brunches at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville. Ad Hoc’s fried chicken is so popular that it has developed a cult following and is the featured entree at the restaurant on alternating Mondays. The recipe was first published in Food and Wine magazine a couple years ago and my post about making the fried chicken is one of the most visited pages on this site.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken and WafflesAd Hoc Fried Chicken and Waffles

On a recent trip to Williams Sonoma, I stumbled upon a display featuring the Ad Hoc Fried Chicken Kit, a recent expansion of Thomas Keller’s exclusive line of products for the retail chain…

Ad Hoc Fried Chicken Kit

…that also includes the Bouchon Bakery line of products.

Bouchon Waffles

When I saw the Bouchon Bakery Yeasted Waffle mix, I decided that this 24, 24, 24 event was going to turn into a throwdown: the Ad Hoc Fried Chicken Kit v. Ad Hoc fried chicken from scratch and the Bouchon Bakery Yeasted Waffles mix v. the Best (and Easiest) Yeasted Waffle by Sheryl at Crispy Waffle.

I met Sheryl on Twitter after she started following me, and her blog immediately got my attention because I had been looking for a good waffle recipe since inheriting a Krups Belgian Waffle Maker last year from a friend. Her “Easiest, Crispiest, Yeasted Waffle” recipe really lived up to its name and it’s the recipe I always turn to when I get a waffle craving. (See my Crispy Waffle post from March.)

Chicken Showdown
I deviated from both recipes instructions by cooking the chicken sous vide before dredging and frying. I do this because I’m paranoid about undercooking chicken, and cooking it sous vide for an hour at around 140F/60C ensures that the chicken is cooked and helps keep it juicy. This allows me to focus solely on the color of the fried chicken when it’s frying in the oil.

Water bathVacuum sealed chicken taking an hour-long, 141F/61C(ish) “bath”
Post-Sous Vide chickenIt doesn’t look that appetizing fresh out of the water bath, but after dredging and frying, it’s heaven.

On the surface, both batches of fried chicken I made looked identical, but on flavor, the scratch recipe beat the kit by a mile. The main difference between the scratch recipe and the kit is in the brine. The scratch recipe’s brine calls for fresh herbs and spices, honey and lemons, and these flavors really come through in the final product.

Fried ChickenThe “scratch” batch of fried chicken.

The fried chicken kit relies on a brine packet of dried spices and seasonings instead of fresh, but the most glaring omission was the lack of lemons. As a result, everyone who tried the kit’s fried chicken said it had a strong pepper flavor. I wonder if lemon powder could have made a significant difference, but I think the inclusion of fresh lemon zest and juice into the brining liquid would have been a pretty simple step for most home cooks.

Waffle Throwdown
Although we were dealing with two yeasted waffle recipes, there were a couple differences in how they’re put together. Sheryl’s recipe uses dry instant yeast and calls for a refrigerated overnight rise, while the Bouchon mix uses active dry yeast that is proofed for 10 minutes before mixing the batter and has a rising time of 90 minutes. Sheryl also adds a couple teaspoons of vanilla extract to her batter.

The Bouchon Bakery mix produces waffles that are incredibly light and more delicate than Sheryl’s waffle, which can be good or bad depending on your preferences. Personally, I found them to be a little too airy, but I was still astonished at how light and crispy they were.

Bouchon WaffleBouchon Bakery Waffle

That doesn’t mean Sheryl’s waffle was heavy by an means. It was still light and crispy but had just a little more weight and texture (dare I say gravitas?) than the Bouchon Bakery waffle, as well as a creaminess in the middle that every good Belgian waffle should have.

IMG_0677Sheryl’s Crispy Waffle

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Belgian waffles, preferring the thinner traditional waffles like the ones they serve at Roscoe’s. I even picked up a traditional waffle iron to test out some buttermilk and cornmeal waffle recipes to serve along side the yeasted waffles, but I couldn’t find one that I liked enough to feature alongside the fried chicken. Sourdough waffles are generally served at Ad Hoc, but I didn’t have a sourdough starter on hand (or the time to start one), so I tabled that for another time.

If there’s one thing I learned during my research, it’s that I really like Belgian waffles now, especially the yeasted variety, and I am now in the market for a better Belgian waffle iron, preferably one that flips. I think I’ll save the traditional waffle iron for moffles.

Thanks to Foodbuzz for helping to make this event possible. I had a lot of fun researching and cooking one of my favorite meals for my friends. Plus, we generally have a hard time getting this group of friends to come up to Ad Hoc with us, so this was a way that I could bring a small piece of our favorite restaurant home for them to experience. But most of all, I hope it inspires you to seek out fried chicken and waffles wherever you live, or better yet, make it yourself! :)

Categories
Ad Hoc reviews The French Laundry

Memorial Day Maine Lobster Rolls at Ad Hoc

Yeah, yeah…another Ad Hoc post. I know. I’ve been meaning to write about some of the cooking I’ve been doing, including baking my first brioche or my thoughts on liking traditional waffles more than Belgian waffles, but when Ad Hoc’s daily menu email update arrived in my inbox yesterday morning, the words “Maine Lobster Rolls” jumped out at me.

Maine Lobster RollsThis was the full portion for two people.

Ad Hoc recently started doing barbecue nights on non-fried chicken Mondays, but for Memorial Day, they decided to offer the Maine Lobster Rolls to give dinner more of a picnic vibe. Now, I’ve never had an authentic New England lobster roll, but I think I may have spoiled myself by having this one, which features lobster from the same purveyor that supplies The French Laundry, a custom sweet roll from Bouchon Bakery, shaved celery, red onions and garlic aioli.

Maine Lobster RollsThe sweet, housemade pickles were excellent, too.

The meal started off with fried French Laundry chickpeas that were like fried, salty edamame—an amuse bouche of sorts, but they don’t use words like that at Ad Hoc. :)

French Laundry Fried Chickpeas

The leek salad featured more French Laundry vegetables and some crispy Jamon Iberico, what Bac-O’s aspires to be when it grows up.

TFL Leek Salad with Jamon Iberico

The cheese course featured Rogue Creamery’s aged and creamy Caveman Blue, raspberry-vanilla jam and beer flatbread.

Rogue Creamery's Caveman Blue with raspberry-vanilla jam beer flatbread

The toasted lemon pound cake with chantilly cream and macerated blueberries ended the meal on a surprisingly light note.

Toasted Lemon Pound Cake

I was content to spend Memorial Day chillin’ at home and watching Game 4 of the Lakers/Nuggets Western Conference Finals battle, but since the Lakers ended up playing poorly and losing, I’m glad I spent my time up in Yountville enjoying the sublime comforts of a great meal instead of stressing out at home yelling at the TV.

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Ad Hoc breakfast Thomas Keller waffles

Ad Hoc Debuts New Brunch Format Sunday

Ad Hoc is changing things up for Sunday brunch, offering several options over two courses instead of the previous three-course set menu. It’s also going to be cheaper; the new brunch price is $24, down from $39.

The first course will feature pastries from Bouchon Bakery, as well as a choice of fresh fruit or a yogurt parfait. Next is a choice of an egg dish, sourdough waffles, stone-ground oatmeal, and a special for the day. The oatmeal will be served with a number of jams, syrups, granolas and sugars. There will be no dessert course, but cookies for the table will be delivered with the check.

The impetus for the brunch changes occurred when Thomas Keller came into Ad Hoc one Sunday for brunch with a pancake craving, but that morning’s menu didn’t really feel like breakfast. Keller felt simpler and more traditional breakfast options should be available for brunch and worked with the Ad Hoc team to make it happen.

We’ll be there Sunday to check it out and will report back. The sacrifices I make for my readers…I tell ya! :)

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bakeries dessert recipes Thomas Keller

Brownies a la Bouchon

Chocolate BouchonOur trips up to Yountville are never complete unless we stop in at Bouchon Bakery to pick up some goodies. If it’s your first visit, you must try the chocolate bouchon (right). It’s a cork-shaped brownie bite that’s their signature delicacy, and it puts those mass-produced Costco ones you’ve probably had to shame. If you’ve ever had the warm chocolate brownie for dessert at Ad Hoc, it’s the same thing…but bigger.

I’ve been wanting to make these ever since I got the Bouchon cookbook last year, and when I saw Sunday Nite Dinner’s epic Valrhona v. Scharffen Berger Chocolate Bouchon Battle, I was even more inspired. But I didn’t want to make the bite-sized bouchons. I was going for brownies.

This recipe is actually quite easy. The most difficult thing about it was getting the freshly mixed batter into a piping bag. I used a jumbo muffin tin because it was the shape and size that I was looking for, but if you actually want to make the bite-size bouchons, I’m sure you can find that online somewhere. Baking time on the muffin-sized brownies is 30-32 minutes. I had some left over batter that I refrigerated, and the next day I made some mini cupcakes using a mini muffin tin. Baking time on the mini cupcakes was around 12 minutes. (no pictures of those…sorry!)


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The original recipe calls for Valrhona Equatoriale semisweet chocolate (55% cacao). Normally I can find Valrhona at Whole Foods, but we missed our opportunity to look at the San Ramon store because they inexplicably close at 9pm when every other Whole Foods in the area closes at 10pm. (Damn bedroom communities!) I ended up finding some E. Guittard Tsaratana semisweet (61% cacao) at Nob Hill and snapped them up since I’m a big fan of Guittard chocolate. The cocoa was Hershey’s unsweetened.

When they’re finished, the brownies are dense and rich with little gooey chunks of chocolate. We tried them both fresh out of the oven and after they’d cooled, and they’re great either way. They’re even good reheated with some ice cream.

Categories
bakeries Best of Inuyaki chocolate dessert recipes Thomas Keller

Christmas Cookies – Thomas Keller Oreos

If you’ve ever been to Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery, chances are you’ve seen or eaten one of his famous TKOs, a.k.a. Thomas Keller Oreos (below).


TKO

Like most of Keller’s food, his take on the classic Oreo is a textbook example of refined simplicity — white chocolate ganache sandwiched between two chocolate shortbread cookies. They’re one of our favorite cookies, and I thought it would be fun to make them for Christmas presents.


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The Las Vegas NBC affiliate, KVBC, posted the TKO recipe on their Web site, which I thought was odd, but then I remembered that Keller opened a Bouchon Bakery in The Venetian a few years ago. We lengthened the the baking time from 8 minutes to 20 minutes after an unsuccessful first batch and the 20-minute baking time worked out much better. We also made a seasonal, mint-flavored TKO by adding some mint extract, peppermint extract and green food coloring to the ganache.

CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD COOKIES
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 pound (4 sticks) butter
18 oz (by weight) all purpose flour
12 oz (by weight) sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
6 oz Cocoa powder

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Cream butter with paddle on mixer until smooth, then add sugar and mix until combined, scraping down the mixing bowl.
3. Sift dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to mixing bowl and work dough until just combines. (it should look kind of like brown sand)
4. Roll dough between two sheets of parchment paper until 1/4 inch thick. Cut each cookie with scalloped cutter.
5. Bake at 325 F for approximately 20 minutes
6. Let cookies cool and then sandwich together with the following filling:

GANACHE FILLING
4 oz white chocolate (cut into small pieces or buy white chocolate chips)
1 oz heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon mint extract (optional, for mint filling)
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract (optional, for mint filling)
green food coloring (optional, for mint filling)

DIRECTIONS
Bring cream to a boil and pour over chocolate, then mix until emulsified. Allow ganache to set up for at least an hour before using. Ganache should be spreadable, kind of like peanut butter.

To make the mint ganache, add mint extracts to ganache along with food coloring just before placing between the chocolate shortbread cookies.

The white chocolate ganache is perishable, so if you’re making these, make sure their consumed within three days. This can be difficult, because these cookies are really rich and it’s sometimes hard to eat just one. Enjoy!