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!!!