We don’t usually make fried food, but this buttermilk fried chicken recipe from Thomas Keller‘s ‘ad hoc at home’ cookbook was irresistible. Then we invited over some friends, and served it up with the black truffle mashed potatoes and some greens for Sunday dinner. Pretty dang nice.
Check out the special use of a local ingredient – Ballard Honey! It’s unfiltered, raw honey made by honey bees in the urban spaces of Seattle. Use the 10-piece chicken technique to break down a chicken.
Make the brine (You can use this for lots of different recipes.) In a large pot, combine 5 lemons (halved), 24 bay leaves, a bunch of flat-leaf parsley, a bunch of thyme, 1/2 cup honey, a head of garlic (cut in half), 1/4 cup black peppercorns, 2 cups kosher salt, and 2 gallons water. Cover, bring to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Stir so the salt dissolves. Remove from the heat, let cool completely, and chill before using. (This can sit up to 3 days in the fridge before using.) Put the brine and chicken pieces into the container and let sit, in the fridge, for no more than 12 hours.
Pull the chicken from the brine, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry. Let it sit at room temp for 1 1/2 hours, until it comes up to the temperature of the room.
Oil Pot Considerations The oil should come no more than 1/3 of the way up the pot. If you have two pots, you can fry the dark and white meat at the same time. Otherwise, you’ll fry the dark first and then the white.
Prepare the Landing Area Fill a pot with at least two inches of vegetable or peanut oil and heat to 320 Fahrenheit. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper.
Prepare the Coating Ingredients In a large bowl, combine 6 cups flour, 1/4 cup garlic powder, 1/4 cup onion powder, 1 T+1tsp paprika, 1T+1tsp cayenne, 1T+1tsp salt, 1 tsp ground black pepper. Then move half of the mixture to a second large bowl.
Prepare the Assembly Line The chicken, 1 bowl of coating, 1 bowl (a quart) of buttermilk, the next bowl of coating, and the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Begin Frying Right before you start frying, dip the chicken thighs into the first bowl of coating. Cover them with coating, pat off any excess, and dip them in the buttermilk. Let any excess buttermilk drip off, then dip them in the second bowl of coating. Place them on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Then lower the thighs into the hot oil. Adjust the heat to keep the oil at 320.
Fry for 2 minutes, then flip the chicken pieces and keep frying. Keep turning the pieces so they cook evenly, and cook for 11 or 12 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown, cooked thru, and very crisp. Transfer to the cooling rack and let them rest skin side up while you continue to cook the rest of the chicken.
After you cook the drumsticks, you can lean them meat side up against the thighs and sprinkle everything lightly with sea salt.
When cooking the breasts, turn the heat up to 340. Cook them for 7 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked thru. Transfer them to the rack, turn them skin side up, and sprinkle with salt. Cook the wings for 6 minutes (or until they’re cooked thru), and then transfer them to the rack and turn off the heat.
Arrange the chicken prettily on a platter. Toss the herb sprigs into the oil, let them crisp for a second or two, and then arrange them on top of the chicken.
Try to use smaller chickens, 2 to 2 1/2 pounds. You’ll get crisper chicken and the meat to crust proportion will be lovely.
- peanut or canola oil
- 1 quart buttermilk
- salt and pepper
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup garlic powder
- 1/4 cup onion powder
- 1 T plus 1 tsp paprika
- 1 T plus 1 tspcayenne
- 1 T plus 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- Rosemary and thyme sprigs for garnish