Mark missed out on an awesome meal at Biergarten the other night, courtesy of Chef Joseph Mahon, so I decided to treat him to an approximation of one of the courses: fried chicken and a salad with buttermilk dressing. With one very notable exception, the blogs I read pointed to Thomas Keller's recipe as the gold standard for at home fried chicken recipes. Athough it seemed a little involved for fried chicken, I was happy to go through all the steps outlined in the recipe (which I got here), and was glad I did. The result was incredibly juicy and flavorful chicken with a really nice crispy crust.
- 1 gallon cold water
- 1 cup plus 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp honey
- 12 bay leaves
- 1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled
- 2 tbsp whole black peppercorns
- 3 large sprigs rosemary
- 1 small bunch thyme
- 1 small bunch Italian parsley
- 2 lemons
- 6 lbs skin-on chicken (I used pre-cut pieces of chicken, both white and dark meat)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp onion powder
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 cups buttermilk
- Lots of peanut oil for frying
I started prepping for this meal the night before I wanted to fry up the chicken. First, I combined 1 quart of the water (1/4 of the gallon - I put the other 3/4 gallon in the fridge to chill) in a pot with 1 cup of the salt, the honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, and parsley. I zested and juiced the lemons, then threw the zest, juice and lemon halves (minus the seeds, please!) into the pot, and brought the mess up to a simmer, stirring until all the salt had dissolved. Then I removed the pot from heat and let it cool to room temperature. Have I ever told you guys how much I love brining stuff? Not only do I get ridiculously succulent meat, but making the brine makes the apartment smell heavenly.
Once the brine was cool, I added the chilled 3/4 gallon of water, stirred, and added in the chicken. Making sure all the chicken pieces were submerged, I covered the pot and let it refrigerate overnight.
The next evening, I took the chicken out of the brine, rinsed it, and patted it dry. I combined the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper and 2 tsp kosher salt in a container, and then in a separate container, I poured in the buttermilk. I dredged each piece of chicken in the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, then the flour mixture again, and let the chicken sit on racks for about an hour to let the crust set up properly.
In the meantime, I prepared the buttermilk dressing, which I cribbed from my man Emeril.
- 1 large egg
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
First, I combined the egg, garlic, mustard, and lemon juice in my little food processor.
I gave it a couple of whirrs, then with the motor running, I slowly drizzled in the oil, keeping it going until I had a thick, creamy emulsion.
I transferred the emulsion to a small bowl, then whisked in the buttermilk, green onions, parmesan, salt, and pepper, and set it aside to wait for the rest of the meal to come together.
Back to the chicken!
I poured a lot of peanut oil into a big pot - I didn't measure it out, but it came up to about 4 inches - and heated it on medium heat until the oil had reached about 330 degrees Fahrenheit. I then VERY CAREFULLY placed pieces of chicken in the oil to cook, making sure to group in like with like (dark meat with dark meat, white meat with white meat). I cooked the dark meat pieces about 15 minutes, the white meat about 8-10 minutes, then drained the golden brown chicken on a paper towel-lined plate.
We plated these beauties up with some mixed greens, tomatoes and the buttermilk dressing and dug in. Mark said it may have been some of his favorite chicken of all time. I really loved it, too, especially the lemony notes in the meat. And the buttermilk dressing was delicious, too - really tangy and garlicky, perfect for cutting through the richness of the dressing. Even better? We made A TON, so we've been eating wonderful leftovers for the last couple of days. The meal may not have been quite as refined as Chef Mahon's, but I was more than pleased with the results. I am pretty certain I will be making this recipe again this winter.