I think we can all agree that fried chicken is basically the perfect food. Salty, crunchy, pairs well with anything from waffles to salad...what more do you need? But though I love fried chicken, I had attempted to make it only once before, when Ari and I spent our first Thanksgiving together (cooking a whole turkey for two people seemed like overkill). I used the same recipe as below, but didn't have an instant-read thermometer to monitor the temperature of the oil, so while the chicken tasted good, it was a little too dark on the outside for my liking.This time, I was prepared and was even ready to substitute regular flour for gluten-free (I used thisone, but found I prefer this). It worked out surprisingly well, and I would have been hard-pressed to tell the difference had I not known already.I've already waxed on about my love for Thomas Keller, so no need to reiterate it here – but be warned, if you brine your chicken (which you should, to make it incredibly juicy), you need to do so 12-24 hours before you plan to fry it. It's worth it, I promise. I served the chicken here with a simple slaw of red cabbage, scallions and shredded carrots tossed with a little apple cider vinegar, and watermelon rind pickles.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken (adapted from Ad Hoc)
- 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 chicken pieces, being sure they're completely submerged, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours or overnight.
- 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.
- 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.
- In a very large, deep skillet, heat 1 inch of 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, and serve hot or at room temperature.