Now, I must start by saying that I have heard so many raves and praises over this fried chicken, served at Thomas Keller’s Adhoc restaurant in Yountville, CA. WHICH I HAVE NEVER BEEN TO. :| (The restaurant, I mean. I went to Yountville and ate at Bouchon.) Incidentally, when I was at Williams Sonoma the other day with my bff, she picked up the kit and I followed suit, eager to try this at home too. I was already familiar with the recipe though (through reading many blogs on others’ experiences making this in their own kitchens) so I decided to tackle this fried chicken tonight at home from scratch, following the recipe instead of using the kit. I reckoned I’d save the kit for another time and see what the difference might be.
The recipe I followed is adapted from the one published by Food & Wine website (here). I modified it to use only one 3 lb. chicken and generally slashed most of the ingredients by half. I also didn’t have rosemary at the time, so I skipped it. My version of the recipe below.
ADHOC FRIED CHICKEN
1 gallon cold water
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
6 bay leaves
1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1/2 small bunch of thyme
1/2 small bunch of parsley
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
One 3-pound chickens
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspon paprika
1 cup buttermilk
Vegetable oil, for frying
Thyme sprigs, for garnish
1. In a very large pot, combine water, salt, honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, thyme and parsley. Add the lemon zest, juice and the lemon halves and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Let cool completely. Add the chicken, being sure it’s completely submerged, and refrigerate overnight.
2. Drain the chicken and pat dry. Scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the skin and cut bird into 8 pieces, keeping the breast meat on the bone.
3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and cayenne. Divide this into two shallow plates. Put the buttermilk in a large, shallow bowl. Working one piece at a time, first dredge chicken into the flour mixture, then buttermilk, then dredge again in the flour mixture, pressing so it adheres all over. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with wax paper.
4. (I used a deepfryer but if you do not own one, read along.) In a very large, deep skillet, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil to 330°. Fry the chicken in 2 or 3 batches over moderate heat, turning once, until golden and crunchy and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each piece registers 160°, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to paper towels to drain, and keep warm in a low oven while you fry the remaining chicken pieces. Transfer the fried chicken to a platter, garnish with the herb sprigs and serve hot or at room temperature.
Finished product. Hello, gorgeous!
The verdict is: This is one really juicy chicken. I think the moistness and tenderness are spot-on! The skin also crisped very nicely, in a beautiful color — which I believe is a result of using the deepfryer*. I did not adhere to the usage of thermometers as described in step 4 above, because I didn’t have any handy. I know my deepfryer pretty well and the heat is quite moderate (meaning, the oil doesn’t get as hot as I usually like it to be), so it seemed to work perfectly in this case. Especially since other blogs have indicated how very quickly and easily burnt the batter gets. The only thing which baffles me is the flavour. I find that my fried chicken, no doubt flavourful, is lacking a bit of omph. I wonder if it’s because I didn’t brine it long enough; I did leave it in the fridge overnight, like about 12 hours… maybe not enough?!? Or maybe I should’ve added a bit of salt and pepper into the flour mixture.
Anyhoo, I’ll be trying this again with the kit and I’ll let you all know how that turns out. Has anyone tried out the kit? If so, how did that compare to the real deal served at Adhoc? I swear, one of these days soon I must pay pilgrimage to Yountville again personally. (I’ve only been to Bouchon; still no luck getting reservations at French Laundry yet.)
* Oh, on the note of deepfryer…. I totally SWEAR BY MY DEEPFRYER!!! Ever since I picked one up years ago, I realized what an amazing kitchen appliance it is to have. I am using a smaller, inexpensive version at the moment (which explains why the oil temperature doesn’t go very high). I highly recommend everyone to get one (this one is pretty good) as it’s inexpensive, convenient and super easy to clean up. I used to joke with all my friends that I consider my deepfryer as one of my prized possessions (the other one being my KitchenAid mixer). ;P