Ad Hoc/Addendum Lemon-Brined Fried Chicken

“Since fried chicken night only happens twice a month,” Thomas Keller says, “people have a wonderful sense of anticipation.”

Well I’m not sure if it’s the sense of anticipation or the tried and true lemony brine, but the fried chicken at Ad Hoc is truly unsurpassed in my book.

Outstanding crisp, juicy chicken, and the fresh mix of seasoning make for a salacious take on the classic. Sure to extensively take over dinner table discussion, the chicken wins the meal without question. Heavy sides – mac and cheese, mashed potatoes – prove far denser than the flawless main event.

To try recreating at home, see below for Food and Wine’s posting of the recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 gallon cold water
  • 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 3 large rosemary sprigs
  • 1 small bunch of thyme
  • 1 small bunch of parsley
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • Two 3-pound chickens
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Rosemary and thyme sprigs, for garnish

RECIPE

  1. In a very large pot, combine 1 quart of the water with 1 cup of the salt and the honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Add the lemon zest and juice and the lemon halves and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Let cool completely, then stir in the remaining 3 quarts of cold water. Add the chickens, being sure they’re completely submerged, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Drain the chickens and pat dry. Scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the skin and cut each bird into 8 pieces, keeping the breast meat on the bone.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Put the buttermilk in a large, shallow bowl. Working with a few pieces at a time, dip the chicken in the buttermilk, then dredge in the flour mixture, pressing so it adheres all over. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with wax paper.
  4. 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.

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