If you are reading this blog, you might be familiar with the name Thomas Keller, the man behind Per Se in NYC and The French Laundry in Yountville, CA. The French Laundry and ElBulli in Spain usually fight for the honor of best restaurant in the world. ElBulli is crazy shit, only 8,000 people a year get reso's from the millions of requests they get-ElBulli
This recipe is adapted from TK's version that is served twice a month at Ad Hoc, his latest venture.
Frying your own chicken is not that hard, and you can take a couple steps to reduce the fried odor- use Crisco instead of oil, and for sure utilize the vent hood if ya got one. Also, when done, pour off the used shortening into pop cans and toss them. You never wash your cast iron pot with water, right?! Just wipe with paper towel, otherwise you're not seasoning it properly.
Brining is easy! Cutting up a chicken is easy! The hardest part of this recipe is making sure you have the necessary tools- a cast-iron pan and a thermometer, a frying, candy or probe-type. You'll see my set-up below with a probe.
Thomas Keller's Fried Chicken
1 G cold water
1 C + 2 ts kosher
1/4 C + 2 TB honey
5 bay leaves
1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled
2 TB black peppercorns
3 sprigs rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
2 lemons, juiced and zested
1 3.5-4.5 lb whole chicken
2 C AP flour
1.5 TB garlic powder
1.5 TB onion powder
1.5 ts cayenne pepper
2 C buttermilk
about 2 C crisco
rosemary or thyme sprigs for garnish
In a stockpot, add the gallon of water, 1 C salt, honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary and thyme, zest, juice, and leftover lemons. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and stir until salt is dissolved. Cool completely, then submerge the chicken. Cover and let sit in the fridge 18-24 hours.
Remove chicken from brine, rinse well and dry completely with paper towels. Butcher into 8 pieces, keeping the breast on the bone.
In a shallow pan, combine the flour and seasonings- garlic, onion, and cayenne, then add the 2 ts salt. Whisk to combine thoroughly.
Pour the buttermilk into a large pan with sides. Add the chicken pieces and let soak for 5-20 minutes. One piece at a time, remove from buttermilk and then dredge into the flour mixture, tapping to ensure any loose flour is removed.
In a 12" cast iron skillet, melt enough Crisco to come about 1/3 way up the sides, about 1-2 C, over medium heat. You want the shortening to be around 330F, do not go over 340F. You can try to fry all pieces at once- thighs in the center of the pan, legs and breasts on the sides. Fry in batches if need be, you don't want chicken piled up on chicken. Turn over after about 9 minutes, total cooking time to reach an internal temp of 160F should be about 18-20 minutes.
Once done, transfer to a rack over a sheet pan, do not place on paper towels or brown bag or anything else, that will mess with the crispiness. Try not to keep warm in a gas oven either, too much moisture will interfere with said crispiness. Cover loosely with foil if working in batches.
Frying set-up with thermo and rack-
Sprinkle with kosher salt while hot, garnish with herb sprigs. A nicely acidic Sauvignon Blanc or an Oregon Pinot Gris will pair nicely, I poured a Cloudy Bay SB, and even though mine was slightly overdone, the lemony brine kept the chicken moist, crispy, delicious. Enjoy!