Saturday, September 4, 2010

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

What??? A Thomas Keller fried chicken recipe? My kids have been begging me to make them friend chicken so when I saw this recipe in Ad Hoc at Home, I knew that I had to try it... Takes some prep time, but it's definitely worth the effort. The chicken comes out really crunchy on the outside (I mean audibly crunchy... I could hear my kids chomping away in the dinning room while I was in the kitchen frying up another batch), but very moist and juicy on the inside... This is a must try recipe for anyone who loves chicken. What makes this recipe great is the fact that the chicken is brined for 12 hours before breading and frying...

Two 2 1/2 - 3 lbs chicken (not the costco type like I used. Those are 4-5 lbs birds... the trick to a golden crust and a cooked-through piece of chicken is the smaller pieces... Search them out and you'll be much happier with the results.

Cold Chicken Brine (recipe below)

Dreding and Frying
Canola Oil (or peanut oil) for deep-frying
1 quart buttermilk
Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

6 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup garlic powder
1/4 cup onion powder
1 Tbs plus 1 tsp paprika
1 Tbs plus 1 tsp cayenne
1 Tbs plus 1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Fine sea salt
Rosemary and thyme sprigs

The brine makes all the difference with this chicken. It's worth the extra day to make, chill and soak the birds...

Brine Recipe
5 Lemons
24 Bay leaves
1 bunch (4 ounces) flat-leaf parsley
1 bunch (1 ounce) thyme
1/2 cup honey
1 head garlic, halved through the equator
1/4 cup black peppercorns
2 cups kosher salt
2 gallons of water.

Combine all ingredients in a large pot, cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. (Your entire house will smell like Bay leaves). Remove from heat and cool completely, then chill before using.

Cut each chicken into 10 pieces: 4 breast quarters, 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings. Pour the brine into a large container (enough to hold all the chicken pieces) add chicken and refrigerate for 12 hours. (It will become too salty if it goes longer than this).

Remove chicken from brine (discard brine) and rinse under cold water to remove all the herbs or spices that may be sticking to the skin. Pat dry with paper towel and let rest at room temperature for 1. 5 hours, or until it comes to room temperature. (Cold chicken will take too long to cook and will turn dark before it's cooked all the way through).

Next make the coating... (My wife's grandparents got this cool spice box on a trip to France that I love pulling out when the occasion calls for it. Thanks again Peg & Jim).

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Transfer half of the coating into a second bowl for dredging. In a third bowl add the buttermilk.

Fill at least 2" of oil to a large deep pot (at least 6" tall), but no matter what size pan you use, the oil should not come up higher than 1/3 of the pan. Heat oil to 320 degrees. Set a cooking rack over a sheet pan for the chicken to drain & cool once it comes out of the oil.

With your dredging station in place (bowl of 1/2 coating, bowl of buttermilk, bowl of 1/2 coating) and the oil at the correct temperature, you are ready to dredge and fry the legs and thighs. Dip the chicken into the first bowl of coating, shake off excess, then into the buttermilk, then into the 3rd bowl for a final coating. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment until you've breaded all the thighs and legs.

Carefully lower the chicken into the hot oil and fry for 2 minutes. Then carefully move the chicken around in the oil and continue frying for another 11 to 12 minutes, until the chicken is a deep golden brown. (I found that with my larger pieces that the chicken turned golden before the meat was cooked through. Once I had the color that I wanted, I moved the chicken to a 400 degree oven and allowed to finish cooking all the way through.

Transfer the cooked thighs and legs to the cooling rack skin-side up and let rest while you fry the remaining pieces. Sprinkle with fine sea salt once they come out of the oil. Make sure the oil is the correct temperature before you add the next batch of chicken.

Once the thighs and legs are done, heat the oil to 340 and then fry the breasts and wings. Cook the breasts for about 7 minutes and the wings for 6 minutes. Allow the chicken to cool for at least 10 minutes before you serve it. (Resist the urge to bite right into it... I didn't have the patience and almost burned my tongue off).

While the chicken is cooking, add some rosemary sprigs and thyme sprigs to the oil and fry for about a few seconds to crisp.

Arrange the chicken on a platter lined with brown paper, add the fried herbs and get ready for some good ol' American eating... We served this with mashed potatoes, gravy, glazed green beans, and corn bread.... Can't get more white trash than that, but it was awesome. My kids had fried chicken for lunch the next two days. They loved it!!!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Roasted New Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic

Another favorite side dish... Roasted new potatoes with fresh rosemary and garlic. Our rosemary hedge is huge now on the side of our house and it's in full bloom. I had Maddyn go pick off 100 purple rosemary flowers for this dish. I love it when the rosemary blooms, as the flowers add some great color to what ever dish we're doing.

2-3 lbs small new potatoes (halved)
2-3 Springs Fresh Rosemary, chopped
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper corns
Rosemary flowers (if available)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Parboil the new potatoes in salted water until they are slightly underdone (they'll continue cooking in the oven). Drain potatoes and return to pot over low heat and gently stir (without crushing the potatoes) to dry.

With a mortar and pestle add about 2-3 teaspoons of sea salt and the garlic. Smash until a paste forms. Add peppercorns and grind to the consistency you like. Add chopped rosemary and bash to release their oil. Slowly drizzle olive oil while stirring to emulsify the marinade. This marinade is best if made an hour before so that the the flavors to develop.

Pour the marinade over the potatoes and toss to coat well. Put potatoes on a foil lined sheet pan and roast in the oven for about an hour, until the outside of the potatoes are nice and crispy...

All to cool slightly and sprinkle with rosemary flowers.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Salad of Roasted Beets, Smoked Salmon and Fingerling Potatoes

This is a fantastic salad if you like smoked salmon, roasted beets and soft cooked eggs. If you don't like these things (like most of my family), then dinner is going to be a bit rough...

20 fingerling potatoes
2-4 medium beets
12 oz. smoked salmon
5 soft cooked eggs
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons chipped chives
mixed baby field greens
mustard vinaigrette
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 375. Trim stems and root ends off of the beets. Place on a large sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper, wrap in the foil and roast until tender (about an hour). Meanwhile, cut the fingerling potatoes in half and simmer in salted water until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain and let cook on a tray.

When beets are done, remove from oven and let cool. When cool enough to handle peel and cut into wedges. Place in a bowl and allow too cool.

Soft-boil the eggs and cut into half and drizzle with olive oil and sea salt.

Make the mustard vinaigrette by placing 1 tablespoon dijon mustard in a bowl. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of champagne vinegar. Slowly drizzle in 1 cup of olive oil while whisking constantly to emulsify. Whisk in 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard.

Add minced shallots to a large bowl. Add potatoes and 2 tablespoons dressing. Sprinkle with sea salt and and ground black pepper. Drizzle beets with olive oil and salt and pepper.

Plate salad by arranging potatoes on large plates, add beets, baby greens, sliced smoked salmon and soft boiled eggs. Sprinkle with chopped chives, salt and pepper and drizzle with remaining dressing.

Love this salad!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ratatouille - Vegetable Gratin

One of my favorite Pixar movies (behind The Incredibles) is Ratatouille. You can really see Thomas Keller's influence in the amount of detail that the animators put into the inner workings of a professional kitchen. I've wanted to make a ratatouille since I saw the film and was glad to see a summer vegetable gratin recipe in Keller's new book "Ad Hoc". This is a great side dish and even though it's early spring, there was some great looking zucchini, yellow squash and egg plant at Henry's this week. So I thought I'd give this one a try. It's really easy to make and very tasty with some great grilled tri tip.

2-3 roma tomatoes
1 medium yellow squash
1 medium zucchini
1 japanese eggplant (or other small narrow eggplant)
canola oil
2 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, finely grated with a microplane grater
kosher salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp of chopped thyme
1/2 cup olive oil plus more for drizzling
freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice vegetables with a mandoline as close in size as possible and toss with olive oil and a lite sprinkling of sea salt.

Heat some canola oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, reduce to low, add onions and garlic and season with salt. Cook without browning stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 20 minutes. Stir in 1 tbs of the thyme.

Combine parmesan and bread crumbs and remaining thyme in a small bowl.

Spread onion mixture in the bottom of a 13.5x9.5 gratin dish or 13 inch round shallow baking dish. Arrange a layer of overlapping slices of 1/3 of the squash around the outside edge of the dish. Sprinkle 2-3 tbs of the breadcrumb mixture over the top. Add a row of tomatoes, eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini until you the pan is filled adding a layer of breadcrumbs ontop of each layer. Sprinkle the top with any of the remaining breadcrumb/cheese mixture and a light sprinkling of salt.

Bake for 60-90 minutes until the vegetables are completely tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Server with a light drizzle of EV Olive Oil.

Serves 6-8