Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ad Hoc Fried Chicken

I had been looking for the ultimate fried chicken recipe for ten years, and Ann, Pam and I agreed to make Thomas Keller's Buttermilk Fried Chicken from the Ad Hoc Cookbook for Wally's birthday.

If I'd been using my head I would have photos of the whole two day process - the herb filled brine, the big lumps of seasoned flour and buttermilk on our fingers as we dipped the chicken pieces.

First you make a brine - salt, sugar, lemons, garlic, herbs. Boil and cool. Then you brine the chicken for 12 hours - no more, no less. Then air dry for a hour and a half, then seasoned flour, buttermilk, seasoned flour again, then fry in peanut oil. It took about an hour to fry all the pieces including letting the oil return to temperature between batches. If you've been paying attention you realize to do this recipe properly you need to get up at 3 a.m.  Do it. 

We cheated, got up at 7, and it was still the best thing I've put in my mouth in years. Puts other fried chicken to shame.

This is what was left over...and it made the best picnic ever. You will have to buy (or borrow) the Ad Hoc cookbook by Thomas Keller. Do it - make this chicken. Invite your favorite people. This is too good to waste on people you don't adore. I will make it again - but not soon, for it is a lot of work, and you need good friends who are good cooks in the kitchen with you. But oh what a delicious delight! I had a great time cooking with Ann and Pam...

and Wally truly enjoyed his birthday - and that, after all, was the point.


  1. I've even used the brining and buttermilk fried chicken recipe for chicken "nuggets" for hors d'oeurves - people are shocked by how good they are. Your chicken looks great!

  2. I can taste the chicken through the computer. Great picture of Wally, too.

  3. My cousin Hal was here for dinner tonight. He and his wife are going to Ad Hoc one Monday night in February. He says the fried chicken is on the menu every other Monday. (They also have ressies at the French Laundry while they're up for the BatM.)