Friday, March 9, 2012

Everyday Yumminess: Ad Hoc Fried Chicken Revisted

When I first made Thomas Keller's fried chicken recipe from the Ad Hoc at Home cookbook, it was pretty much the most amazing fried chicken I had ever tasted in my entire life. The recipe is pretty simple, especially by Thomas Keller standards, but I get super-stressed-out frying chicken on the bone, worrying about whether or not I will get it cooked perfectly all the way through to the bone without over-cooking it. The solution to this "problem" is the same solution I come up with for most kitchen problems: sous vide!The recipe (which is given here along with gorgeous step-by-step pictures) stays the same for most of the process, including Thomas Keller's insanely delicious lemony herby brine...
After the chicken soaked up the briney goodness for 12-13 hours, it was rinsed well, patted dry, then vacuum-sealed in a single layer.
The pouch of chicken goes into a 148°F water bath for 2 to 3 hours. (I was planning to do this batch for 2 hours, but left it in for 3.5 hours because I totally forgot about it, and it was perfection, so...) When the sous vide portion of the cooking is done, flash-chill the pouch in an ice bath until very cold, then refrigerate until you're ready to finish the cooking. At go-time, the dredging process is the same as in Keller's recipe. The only difference is that now instead of worrying about times and temperatures for the different chicken parts, everything just goes into hot oil (~350°F) until the crust is crispy and golden and beautiful, at which point the chicken will also be heated through (which is all you need, since it is already cooked to moist, juicy perfection).That's it. This is an "improvement" that only marginally improves texture, but vastly improves things in terms of convenience.
Particularly if you're cooking for a large group (which always gets me extra-stressed-out), it's awesome to cut the frying time down to minutes and to not have any question about whether or not the meat will be perfectly cooked. It's essentially a kick-ass shortcut (that happens to take 3 hours... ahem...). This is the only way I'll be making fried chicken again.

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