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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
beef musings sous vide techniques The French Laundry Thomas Keller

Contemplating Christmas Dinner

I’m in charge of Christmas dinner again, and I’m still a little torn on what I should make. The adventurous part of me wants to take a rib roast and separate the cap meat (i.e. calotte, deckle) from the actual ribeye…kinda like this:

ribeye-partsFrom left: ribs, eye, cap.
Picture from Ideasinfood.com

Then I can cook the cap meat sous vide to a nice medium rare in attempt to partially recreate this dish:

Calotte de Beouf GrilléeThe French Laundry’s Calotte de Beouf Grillée (12.08.08)

For the center cut, I would oven roast it to medium rare and end up with a sort of deconstructed prime rib cooked two ways.

The other part of me wants to go old school and roast a nice beef tenderloin or standing rib roast. I’ve been successful with rib roasts before but have never tried a tenderloin. But as old school as a tenderloin roast might sound, I’d probably endup cooking that sous vide anyway.

Aside from the main courses, Yorkshire puddings are definitely on the agenda, and I think my wife is going to make her garlic bacon mashed potatoes. I am extremely tempted to make this Macaroni and Gravy recipe by fellow food blogger Lainie as a second entree, and I know my cousin Cristy, who hosted Thanksgiving, has something up her sleeve.

If you’re looking for some Christmas recipes, you might want to give these a try:

I’m not sure if I’ll be posting again before Christmas, but if I don’t, I hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday season!

Categories
eggs Filipino musings sous vide

“Deviled” Eggs

I forgot that I had the day off today, so after driving all the way to work and back, I needed something to do. After talking to Alien J about the eggs we had at Ad Hoc’s Easter Brunch yesterday, I thought that I would do an egg experiment and use the results to top the Chicken Adobo Fried Rice I planned on making for lunch.


ad hoc egg porn
Ad Hoc egg porn

My wise idea? Cook the eggs in a 66.6/C water bath to make…Deviled Eggs! 66.6…devil…get it? :-)

The final results were interesting. Normally I like runny eggs on my fried rice, but these eggs were much different. The whites were very delicate since they hadn’t set up yet, but they weren’t too runny. The yolks were set enough that they maintained their shape, but when you put them in your mouth, they were creamy and delicious. Here’s some pictures.


[pictobrowser type=”flickr” userID=”arndog” albumID=”72157604238100513″]

I don’t know if I’d do this every time I make fried rice, but next time I’ll probably lower the temperature so the yolks are runny.

I’ll write more about the chicken adobo in the next couple days. :-)

Categories
gear sous vide techniques

Back in Business

Well, that didn’t take long. I picked up a new circulator last Friday off eBay (the seller was in San Francisco, so he let me save on shipping and pick it up from his house). This one is a Lauda MS and it’s a lot newer and more powerful at circulating water than my old Julabo circulator. It’s also a few inches taller, so I stopped by Kamei Restaurant Supply in San Francisco to pick up an 8-inch deep steam table pan.


Lauda MS Circulator and Bath

The best part is that the Lauda came with a custom mounting plate that helps it fit perfectly in the opening of my hinged half-size lid, so when both half size lids are on the pan, it’s completely covered.

If you’re wondering, those are some pork belly pieces in the water bath. I’ll write more about those later. :-)

Categories
musings sous vide techniques Thomas Keller

Sous Vide Adventures on Hold…

My heating immersion circulator died today. I was trying to make some sous vide spare ribs for dinner and my wife told me that it just died. No alarm, no warning…just a dead circulator. I knew this was always a possibility when we bought it off of eBay six months ago. I mean, this thing was so old, it still said “Made in West Germany” on the back.


Julabo heating circulator and water bath

I’m trying to weigh my options at this point. I really liked having the versatility of the circulator because it allows me almost any vessel for the water bath, and I had three Cambro steam table pans that I used exclusively for sous vide. It’s easier to cook for a group when I can pull out one of the bigger Cambros and fill it up with short ribs, chicken and flank steak. There are some other solutions out there that I’m going to be investigating, as well, but in the short term, I think I’m going to be keeping an eye on eBay to see what’s available.

Or maybe Thomas Keller’s oft-rumored home sous vide kits will finally be released? Anyone out there with inside information? ;-)

Categories
Ad Hoc beef chicken fried chicken soul food sous vide Thomas Keller

A Comfort Food Christmas

This year, instead of a traditional Christmas dinner, we decided to do meal composed of comfort food, i.e. fried chicken, beef short ribs, flap steak, mac and cheese, bacon smashed potatoes, and chocolate cake. The fried chicken and short ribs were inspired by the food we’ve had at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville, and in fact, the fried chicken recipe is based on the Ad Hoc version that was published in Food and Wine magazine in October 2007.

What this actually means, of course, is that we cooked all the entrees sous vide. I got a 60C/140F water bath going and started the beef short ribs on Dec. 22 so that it would cook for 48 hours. I added the flap steak, which I found really cheap at Costco, to the water bath about 12 hours before serving. The chicken was brined overnight as specified in the recipe and then placed in the water bath about two hours before we started frying. The 140F temperature is a little low for chicken, but we were still going to fry it so getting it up to the “safe” temperature of 160F wasn’t too much of a concern.


[pictobrowser type=”flickr” userID=”arndog” albumID=”72157603558109356″]

Overall, these were the best sous vide dishes I’ve made to date. After getting some tips from Nick, Ad Hoc’s general manager, on a trip to Ad Hoc the day after Thanksgiving, the short ribs we produced were perfect. I might try them at a lower temperature next time so they’re a little more rare, but I stuck with 140 because we were working with chicken, as well.

The flap steak was initially a stop gap in case we didn’t have enough food, but they ended up being one of the stars of the dinner. After removing from the water bath, I seared them really quickly on one side for appearance’s sake and then cut them on the bias for presentation.

The chicken probably didn’t need to be cooked sous vide, but I’ve been doing it this way to ensure that the chicken is really moist and tender when it’s finally served.

I’ll post the recipes for the mac and cheese and smashed potatoes later, but in the mean time, you can see what they looked in the slideshow. My cousin brought corn and salad (not pictured) and the delicious chocolate tunnel cake that finished the meal.

It’s been a couple years since my wife and I took over the cooking duties at major holidays, so the main goal is to make sure that my mom likes the food. So far she’s been impressed, but I’m trying to figure out if we should do something more traditional next year, or should we start a sous vide short ribs and fried chicken tradition for the holidays?

What do you think?

Categories
Ad Hoc fried chicken recipes sous vide

Ad Hoc Fried Chicken (Sous Vide Version)

UPDATE 2/25/08: This recipe is now just a proof of concept. It works, but I think the original recipe, which I’ve modified to include sous vide steps and other tweaks, is a lot better, and taking the time to make the brine makes a huge difference. I’ll leave this recipe up for archival purposes, but for best results, see the original post.

Last week, we made Ad Hoc’s Fried Chicken by following the recipe to the letter, and it was beautiful, juicy and crispy. However, the entire process was a bit complicated because the brine has to cook and then cool completely before using it. A friend suggested cooking the chicken sous vide to ensure its juiciness and allow the flavor of lemon and herbs to be infused into the meat as it’s cooking in the bag. After removing from the water bath, simply dry off the meat, then dredge and fry it to finish it off.


Fried Chicken (sous vide)

BRINE INGREDIENTS
1 gallon cold water
3/4 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar

SOUS VIDE INGREDIENTS
1 lemon, thinly sliced
ground black pepper
3 large rosemary sprigs
1 small bunch of thyme
1-3 pounds of chicken thighs

DREDGE INGREDIENTS
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 cups buttermilk

Vegetable oil, for frying
Rosemary and thyme sprigs, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. Simply mix 1 gallon of cold water with 1/3 cup of sugar and 3/4 cup of Kosher salt. Add chicken to the brine making sure chicken is completely submerged and store in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
  2. Remove chicken from the brine, rinse the chicken and pat dry. Lightly pepper both sides of the chicken.
  3. Add two pieces of chicken to each vacuum bag. Place a slice of lemon on the skin side of each thigh.

  4. Fried Chicken (sous vide)

  5. Place a sprig of rosemary and thyme on the bone side of the each thigh. Vacuum seal the bag.

  6. Fried Chicken (sous vide)

    • Process the chicken at 160F/71.1C for around two hours.
    • Remove the chicken pieces from the bag and dry them off.
    • Dip the chicken pieces in buttermilk and then dredge them in flour.
    • Fry in 350-375 degree oil until skin is brown and crispy.
    Categories
    recipes seafood sous vide techniques

    Wild Turbot Fillets (Sous Vide)

    Trader Joe’s is one of our favorite places to buy groceries. We’re big fans of their frozen foods, especially their pizza, but we’ve never really explored the wonders of their flash-frozen seafood until now. Sous vide lends itself well to cooking seafood, and from what I’ve been reading, fish prepared sous vide is soft, tender and flaky.

    The Seasoned Wild Turbot Fillets caught my eye because they were already seasoned, and I figured I could just drop the bag in the water and be done with it.


    Seasoned Wild Turbot Fillets

    Seasoned Wild Turbot Fillets

    I heated up the water bath 113F/45C and cooked the fish for around 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, we took the fish out of the bag, reserving the juice. The fish is very fragile and soft, so be careful when moving it around. In a lightly buttered pan, sear the fish for about 30 seconds a side. Remove the fish from the pan and pour the juice from the bag into the pan to make a sauce. After cooking down the sauce a bit, spoon it on the fish and you’re done.

    Here’s mine served with steamed rice and wilted spinach.


    Plated Meal

    The texture was just what I wanted—soft, tender, and flaky, and the impromptu pan sauce was a nice touch.

    NOTES

    • 113F/45C is considered below “food safe” but if you’re serving the fish immediately and not storing it for later use, it should be fine. Also, pan searing before serving should also make the fish “safer.” Cooking it right in the bag that it came in also minimizes possible contamination.
    • You don’t have to use much butter…just coat the pan lightly.
    • Because the cooking time is so short, you could easily do this in a pot over the stove. Just make sure you can regulate the water temperature for 20 minutes or so.
    Categories
    beef chicken sous vide techniques

    Adventures in Sous Vide

    It was an incredible meal at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville, CA, that introduced me to the concept of sous vide cooking. Sous vide is French for “under vacuum,” and in a cooking context, it means that food is vacuum packed and “processed” in a water or steam bath at a fixed temperature for a long period of time…sometimes 24 hours or more. The temperature of the food never rises above the temperature of the water, so it’s impossible to overcook the food.

    For example, a 36 or 48-hour “braise” for short ribs (below) would be excessive using a traditional braise, but when it’s done sous vide, the vacuum packing allows the meat to maintain its original size and shape, the long cooking time lets the collagens in the meat break down, and it produces a final product that’s tender with a buttery texture and an intense, concentrated beef flavor you just can’t get from a old-school cooking methods.


    short ribs

    Sous vide cooking is simple in concept but harder to execute in real life because it either requires potentially expensive equipment or a lot of free time to babysit the food. The most important aspect is maintaining constant temperature; a variance of a degree or two can dramatically change the texture of the food. The most common way sous vide cooking is performed in high-end restaurants is by using a water bath that’s heated using an immersion circulator, a piece of laboratory equipment that both heats and circulates water so that the temperature remains constant.

    Heated immersion circulators are not cheap; they can go for around $1,000 new, so we turned to everyone’s favorite garage sale (ebay) to get ours. We picked up a Julabo HC8 that’s so old it says “MADE IN WEST GERMANY” on the back. It’s digital which makes it easier to monitor, and there’s a whole bunch of other controls on it that I really don’t understand. But it turns on and it works, and that’s all that matters. We got it for $110 ($95 + $10 shipping).


    Julabo heating circulator and water bath

    Our vacuum sealer is a Tilia Advance Foodsaver v2490 BC from Costco, which I highly recommend because it has a “pulse” feature that lets you customize how much air you want to remove from the bag before sealing. Our water bath is a simple Lexan hotel pan (1/2 size x 6 inches) made by Cambro that I picked up at Smart & Final. They also had flip-top lids with an opening that was perfect (after popping off the lid) for suspending the Julabo above the water bath since ours didn’t come with any clamps or other mounting equipment.

    The most information you’re going to find on sous vide on the Web is at the eGullet.org forums. The main sous vide thread has been around since 2004 and is filled with lots of great information on how to get started, recipes, and loads of tips, as well as the safety concerns that accompany this form of cooking.

    Here’s some of the things we’ve made so far.

    Rib Eye Steaks
    Barbecue Chicken
    Baby Back Ribs (Filipino-style Adobo and a traditional dry rub)
    Beef Short Ribs
    Seasoned Wild Turbot Fillets

    I hope to chronicle some of our experiments here on the blog, so this list will grow, and links to these dishes are forthcoming.

    Categories
    Ad Hoc beef reviews sous vide Thomas Keller

    Ad Hoc (06.30.07)

    Washington Street is an unassuming country road in the Napa Valley that also happens to be the epicenter of Thomas Keller’s culinary empire. His flagship restaurant, The French Laundry, put Yountville on the map, but Keller also operates Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery, and the happy accident down the street known as Ad Hoc.

    As its name implies, Ad Hoc was supposed to be a temporary six-month experiment before Keller opened a restaurant specializing in gourmet burgers and wine. But Ad Hoc proved to be so popular that it’s now become a permanent member of Keller’s restaurant family, and the “burgers and bottles” concept was put on the back burner.


    ad hoc

    Under the leadership of Chef Dave Cruz, Ad Hoc serves a different four-course set menu every night, showcasing the best of American comfort food, including braised beef short ribs, roasted Kurobuta pork, hangar steaks and their legendary fried chicken. Each meal consists of a salad course, main course, cheese course and dessert. If you finish your meal and want a bit more, you can always ask for seconds and they’ll happily bring you more. Wine selections are plentiful, and the young, energetic staff is happy to help you pick an appropriate wine.

    When we arrived, I got excited when I saw that we were getting braised beef short ribs. I didn’t really care about anything else on the menu because there are only a few things I love in this world more than a braised beef short rib. This evening’s menu:


    Frisee and Mache Salad
    shredded Liberty Farms duck leg shaved celery, cornichons, fried capers,
    duck skin cracklins and a creamy garlic dressing

    ~

    Braised Beef Short Ribs
    baby leeks and fennel, fingerling potatoes, sofrito,
    orange zest and spanish black olives

    ~

    Cana de Oveja
    camembert with K & J Farms nectarines

    ~

    Mixed Berries and Cream
    house-made granola





    The Frisee and Mache Salad was excellent, especially when you consider that I’m not much of a duck fan because I usually find it too fatty and the flavor can be overwhelming. But this duck leg was the exact opposite; it was succulent and flavorful without dominating the salad, and I forgot I was eating duck for a second. Fried capers were a revelation…they look like they burst open, kind of like miniature bits of fresh green popcorn (or would that be pop-capers?). The duck skin cracklins were a great substitute for bacon bits; there’s nothing like crunchy fried bird skin is there?

    The main course of Braised Beef Short Ribs was an eye-opening entree. Our waiter said the meat was braised for 48 hours, which was confusing to me until one of our dining companions revealed that it was technically a sous vide. I had no idea what a sous vide was at the time, but soon learned that this technique produces some of the most delectable meat I’ve ever eaten. Cutting into the meat was like moving a hot knife through butter, but the meat didn’t fall apart. Each slice of meat melted in my mouth and had a really rich, beefy flavor with a hint of citrus from the orange zest. Not only was this among the finest meat dishes I’ve ever eaten, it made me curious enough about sous vide to explore the possibilities of doing it at home.

    The cheese course consisted of Camembert wedges and slices of the freshest nectarines I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. You tend to forget how good fresh fruit really tastes if your only source is the local Safeway.

    Dessert was a seemingly simple Mixed Berries and Cream with delicious house-made granola from Bouchon Bakery. The twist here is that the whipped cream is mixed with a little creme fraiche and buttermilk, which made it more decadent than one might think possible. I never thought I would go ga-ga over a blueberry and raspberry parfait, but in the right hands, anything can be positively sinful.

    Ad Hoc’s casual atmosphere and easy-going staff make it easy to relax and enjoy a truly superb meal. What’s most striking about the dining experience was the simplicity of the food. It’s basically comfort food that’s been refined or redefined by using different techniques and fresher ingredients that elevate it to a higher level. If Ad Hoc is the low-hanging fruit in the Keller kingdom, then I can only imagine how good the food is at Bouchon and The French Laundry.

    I think I’ll start saving my pennies now.

    INFORMATION
    Ad Hoc
    6476 Washington St.
    Yountville, CA 94599 map
    707.944.2487
    Ad Hoc on Urbanspoon