Saturday, May 25, 2013

buttermilk fried chicken.

I've developed a strong affinity as of late to overalls.  I don't own a pair at the current moment and I haven't owned a pair since I was about 15 and thought light-washed Gap overalls with pastel polo shirts was the way to win a boy's heart (clearly there was a reason why I never won any boy's hearts).  Now I keep yearning to find a pair that will exude the cool girl French look that I spend most days pining for.  Instead, every pair I've tried on as of late exudes a Southern farmer look which isn't necessarily bad it just isn't quite the look I'm going for.  I finally admitted to myself this past week that overalls and I aren't meant to be in that cool way I want them to be and that maybe it's time to embrace the Southern look so I went home that day and made fried chicken.  I have forever had this vision that in the South you eat fried chicken and biscuits and drink ice cold glasses of sweet tea at least once a week.  Maybe it's just that I want to think I would be required to eat fried chicken once a week if I ever head south of the Mason-Dixon line and if this is not the case please don't tell me otherwise.  (I like to think my imagination is always accurate.)  I have a soft spot for fried chicken since in my mind its the quintessential summer dish and now that we have arrived at the unofficial start of Summer (even if the weather didn't yet get that memo) it means that its time to eat cold fried chicken on a blanket in the park.  

The internet is filled with more fried chicken recipes then I could ever count.  I am sure there are some other super good ones out there, but for me the perfect fried chicken recipe comes from Thomas Keller's cookbook Ad Hoc.  Mr. Keller is a perfectionist.  He is one of those people that actually has the patience and foresight to lay out all his ingredients before he sets to work on a recipe.  (He is one of those people who would probably faint if he ever saw me cooking.)  His fried chicken recipe is unbelievable particular and precise  Normally recipes like this make me want to run away but the end result is so damm good that I continuously go back to it time and time again.  The chicken is moist and flavorful   The crust is a most gorgeous golden brown.  It's crunchy and spicy and absolutely perfect.  It's the kind of thing I imagine myself eating all summer long ideally in a pair of overalls.   

Buttermilk Fried Chicken 
Recipe from Ad Hoc by Thomas Keller

This chicken involves a little bit of planning which for someone like me who is super impulsive finds slightly annoying but none the less I try and tell myself this recipe teaches me patience.  The brine should be made the night before you want to make the chicken.  Cool the brine in the fridge overnight and then place the chicken in the brine the next day.  After that the whole thing is as easy as can be.  You can also halve the below if you are only serving 2 people and make 1 bird.
Two 2 1/2- to 3-pound chickens (you can find the smaller sized birds at the farmers markets ) .  You can use normal sized birds from the supermarket but it will take a little longer to cook the pieces. 

For dredging and frying

Peanut or canola oil for deep-frying
1 quart buttermilk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For coating

6 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup garlic powder
1/4 cup onion powder
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Ground fleur de sel or fine sea salt
Rosemary and thyme sprigs for garnish

For the chicken brine

5 lemons, halved
24 bay leaves
1 bunch (4 ounces) flat-leaf parsley
1 bunch (1 ounce) thyme
1/2 cup clover honey
1 head garlic, halved through the equator
3/4 cup black peppercorns2 cups (10 ounces) kosher salt, preferably Diamond Crystal
2 gallons water

For the brine: (makes 2 gallons) The key ingredient here is the lemon, which goes wonderfully with chicken, as do the herbs: bay leaf, parsley and thyme. This amount of brine will be enough for 10 pounds.

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and cool completely, then chill before using. The brine can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.           

For the chicken: Cut each chicken into 10 pieces: 2 legs, 2 thighs, 4 breast quarters, and 2 wings. Pour the brine into a container large enough to hold the chicken pieces, add in the chicken, and refrigerate for 12 hours (no longer, or the chicken may become too salty).

Remove the chicken from the brine (discard the brine) and rinse under cold water, removing any herbs or spices sticking to the skin. Pat dry with paper towels, or let air-dry. Let rest at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours, or until it comes to room temperature.

If you have two large pots (about 6 inches deep) and a lot of oil, you can cook the dark and white meat at the same time; if not, cook the dark meat first, then turn up the heat and cook the white meat. No matter what size pot you have, the oil should not come more than one-third of the way up the sides of the pot. Fill the pot with at least 2 inches of peanut oil and heat to 320 degrees F. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper.

Meanwhile, combine all the coating ingredients in a large bowl. Transfer half the coating to a second large bowl. Pour the buttermilk into a third bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set up a dipping station: the chicken pieces, one bowl of coating, the bowl of buttermilk, the second bowl of coating, and the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Just before frying, dip the chicken thighs into the first bowl of coating, turning to coat and patting off the excess; dip them into the buttermilk, allowing the excess to run back into the bowl; then dip them into the second bowl of coating. Transfer to the parchment-lined pan.

Carefully lower the thighs into the hot oil. Adjust the heat as necessary to return the oil to the proper temperature. Fry for 2 minutes, then carefully move the chicken pieces around in the oil and continue to fry, monitoring the oil temperature and turning the pieces as necessary for even cooking, for 11 to 12 minutes, until the chicken is a deep golden brown, cooked through, and very crisp. Meanwhile, coat the chicken drumsticks and transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Transfer the cooked thighs to the cooling rack skin-side-up and let rest while you fry the remaining chicken. (Putting the pieces skin-side-up will allow excess fat to drain, whereas leaving them skin-side-down could trap some of the fat.) Make sure that the oil is at the correct temperature, and cook the chicken drumsticks. When the drumsticks are done, lean them meat-side-up against the thighs to drain, then sprinkle the chicken with fine sea salt.

Turn up the heat and heat the oil to 340 degrees F. Meanwhile, coat the chicken breasts and wings. Carefully lower the chicken breasts into the hot oil and fry for 7 minutes, or until golden brown, cooked through, and crisp. Transfer to the rack, sprinkle with salt, and turn skin side up. Cook the wings for 6 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer the wings to the rack and turn off the heat.

Arrange the chicken on a serving platter. Add the herb sprigs to the oil (which will still be hot) and let them cook and crisp for a few seconds, then arrange them over the chicken.

Note: We let the chicken rest for 7 to 10 minutes after it comes out of the fryer so that it has a chance to cool down. If the chicken has rested for longer than 10 minutes, put the tray of chicken in a 400°F oven for a minute or two to ensure that the crust is crisp and the chicken is hot.

1 comment:

  1. That buttermilk fried chicken looks awesome! Nice work Caity.

    When you don't have time to do your brine from scratch, you might like our everyday brines at Fire & Flavor. They're quick.

    Keep up the good work.