“Two Day” Fried Chicken from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller

I finally got the cookbook “Ad Hoc at Home” by Thomas Keller.  It’s an amazing book!  Beautifully illustrated and full of wisdom.  After leafing through it, I decided I was going to make the Fried Chicken.  How hard could it be?  Well, it wasn’t so hard as it was time consuming.  Mr. Keller is a gourmet chef and he really can’t leave that behind.  His recipes are very well written, full of detail.  Although this book is all about “home cooking”, I wouldn’t call it a book for beginners.  The recipes are about making what sounds homey into something unbelievable.  This ain’t your mama’s fried chicken.

Looks tasty, doesn’t it?  It is.  The recipe didn’t start with, “On Day One”.  Maybe it should have.  Here’s the short version of the technique.

  • Make the brine with kosher salt, water, lemon halves, garlic, bay leaves, parsley, thyme and peppercorns
  • Let brine cool to room temp
  • Add chicken pieces and refrigerate 12 hours
  • Remove chicken from brine and pat dry
  • Place on drying wrack for 2 1/2 hours on the counter to come to room temp
  • Mix two bowls of flour dredge adding garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper
  • Pour a quart of buttermilk into a separate bowl, season with salt and pepper
  • Heat oil approx two inches deep
  • Dredge chicken, dip in buttermilk, dredge in other bowl of flour
  • Sit on parchment lined tray until time to fry
  • Fry 3 – 4 pieces at time at about 320 for 10-12 minutes or so
  • Sit on a draining wrack while you fry the rest

Here’s the whole set up…

Notice how it stretches almost entirely across my kitchen?  That’s chicken, way back there by the sink.

No biggie, huh?  Unless, of course, you put the chicken in the brine at 3:oo in the afternoon, not realizing you’ll need to take it out at 3:0o in the morning.  Here’s a good reason to always read completely through your recipe before you begin and to set up a little time-line in your head for how it’s going to go. 

Two days after I began…  was this chicken juicy?  Absolutely.  Did the thick, crispy crust adhere wonderfully to the skin?  Yes sir, it did.  The flavor of the meat and the crust was fantastic. 

My only disappointment?  After two days,  it was still just fried chicken.  Damn good fried chicken.  But, only fried chicken.  I never made fried chicken before this in my whole life.  Why?  I’d rather have chicken fried steak.  I should have made gravy.

Sure is pretty, though, isn’t it?

Next up!?  Pork Belly!!

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13 responses to ““Two Day” Fried Chicken from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller

  1. The confit pork belly is amazing. The pork belly, like the chicken, is also a long process but so worth it. Some of the best i’ve had. It’s quite a contrast to David Chang’s recipe in Momofuku.

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    • Have you tried the braised? Where do I get lard? I can’t say I’ve ever seen it…

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      • I have braised pork belly before but I have not tried his recipe. Lard is available at most stores on the baking aisle but is most definitely at any store with a Hispanic clientele. They don’t sell it at Whole Foods and they look at you really funny when you ask about it though.

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  2. I’m with you. I prefer gravy with my chicken fried. Looks mouth watering to say the least…

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  3. You can get lard almost anywhere. I got it at Walmart. I guarantee Fiesta will carry it. Look for little green and white boxes near the oils or Mexican food.

    It seems odd to me to brine the chicken and then dip in buttermilk. Why not just marinate in buttermilk? Not that I’m a better cook than Thomas Keller or anything. But I don’t know if I’d brine a chicken I was going to fry. I also don’t think you really needed to take the chicken out of the brine after exactly 12 hours. I usually would just soak (in buttermilk) overnight or a bit longer

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    • Well, Keller specifies – DO NOT leave it in the brine for more than 12 hours or it might salt the meat too much. I could definitely taste the lemony quality of the brine the in the chicken. Hubbard said he really didn’t notice it. Tasty stuff, for sure.

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  4. I usually use a sweet tea brine on my own fried chicken. Keller’s brines are also VERY strong. If he gives a recommended time I definitely would not go past that. I’m with Keller that brining improves just about any animal protein. The last time I had scallops I used the Keller brine technique from Ad Hoc at home and they were perfectly seasoned all throughout. The only time i wouldn’t brine (provided i had sufficient time and forethought) is when roasting and a pan gravy is intended. The drippings can be too salty.

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  5. i passed on the chicken (shivers) but my god i sure do want to try that pork belly.

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  6. First of all – my husband & I loved your tale of the “2 Day Chicken” – couldn’t stop laughing! Also, you really helped me to break down this recipe into a 3 day process that made it feasible for me to make. I made the brine Thursday night & put it in the fridge. Friday night the 2 cut-up chickens went in the brine – timed to come out 12 hrs later at 10a.m. Then I cooked it tonight. It is a lot of work & it is still just chicken but it was the best fried chicken we’ve ever had! I’m going to make for my family on Easter – my dad’s from Georgia & will love it. Anyway, thanks Margie for your great blog – loved it!

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  7. Mmmm pork belly.

    I have the French Laundry book, and everything is an undertaking, to be sure. But somethings in this man’s life are worth the extra effort.

    Beautiful as usual, Margie.

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  8. Your last comment made me laugh! I am in Dallas (have lived here for over 25 years!) and when you wrote ” I wanted a chicken fried steak!” after toiling for days on this fried chicken recipe, that was very funny to me. Food is our identity, is it not?

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  9. Yes, it is! Very much so.

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  10. isn’t keller’s book just amazing? i was thinking about buying another copy to keep clean & safe away from the kitchen! 🙂

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