Let me preface this by saying, although I am a fairly skilled cook, I am not a chef - I contemplated going to culinary school when I was in High School, but I hated HS so much, I had no desire to go back to school at all - Truth be told, I still have no desire to go back to school. I could barely make it to a pottery class I signed up for.
I have never made fried chicken before - I think it's partially the guilt involved with making anything deep fried, and also not understanding how to get the crispy flakes. I've tried some really gross home made fried chicken, and always preferred getting a bucket of Ezell's or even KFC. Then for my birthday, I received Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc At Home cookbook. My SO and I dined at Ad Hoc back in September and really loved it, so I was excited to give some of the recipes a try! I'd heard about TK's famous Fried Chicken Monday nights, but unfortunately we weren't there on a Monday.
First, this was all about planning. If I was going to delve into the process of fried chicken, I was going to cook for a crowd, not for my SO and I alone. Second, 12 hours of brining. Soo... Start at 6am and start frying at 6pm? Ick. I hate mornings. I decided to serve it up at a Birthday brunch, so I started the brine around 10pm on a Friday night, and started the cooking process around 11am the next day for a 1pm Brunch. Timing worked out perfectly!
To reduce the amount of mess I created, I used large bowls and several pairs of tongs, so my hands rarely touched the chicken. I fried the chicken in a Le Creuset French Oven and it worked perfectly, and cleanup was much easier than I anticipated. (Thank God!) I opted for Peanut Oil, and I also doubled the recipe for a group of 9 - there was more than enough chicken to go around! I only used one recipe of the brine - there was more than enough.
Photo was taken before garnishing with Thyme...
My SO said that it was possibly the BEST chicken he has ever had. You can really taste the lemon in the chicken meat and the crust turns out extra extra crispy. I added extra cayenne to some of it for a spicier version and that turned out well too! I let it rest on several paper towels, (I may have used the entire roll for the whole process!) and it kept the fried chicken from being too oily.
I re-heated left overs in the oven at around 300 for about 15 minutes, and that worked well, the chicken stayed moist and the crust stayed crisp. This recipe will definitely be a staple, for special times that we're ready to indulge in fried goodness!
If you're interested in giving this a shot, you don't even have to buy the book - you can find the recipe on foodandwine.com!