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Yes! You too can learn how to screw up Thomas Keller's Fried Chicken in 3 Easy Steps!!!

Veteran Member
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Joined: Dec 12, 2005


Posted to Thread #19861 at 2:38 pm on Jan 27, 2011

Remember a while back when I asked ya'll how to keep fried chicken from sticking? And you provided excellent advice which I thought I was following. Well, it turns out that I can STILL screw up a food prep that has been around for centuries. A process used by people without the advantages of electronic technology. By people who can make fried chicken outside in a black kettle. On a fire. Fueled by logs.

We caught an episode of Unique Eats where they showed fried chicken being prepared at Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc restaurant. Oh, they made it look sooooo easy, she says now with a bitter laugh.

Once again I was lured down the slippery, oily path of savory crunchiness that is the Promised Land of Fried Chicken.

I checked out Keller's Ad Hoc At Home from the library and prepared to reach thyme-infused Nirvana.

This is no easy-peasy recipe. You don't rush home from work after picking up a chicken and a jug of buttermilk and end up eating it that day. Oh no....

First, you must find the right SIZE chicken. Not too big now because THAT would throw everything off. Since I do not have artisanal chicken farms nearby, I ended up with plain old chicken breasts from Publix.

Next you dissect said chicken into Keller-approved sections: 10 or 12 pieces, your choice. Since I only had breasts, that decision was simple: I cut them in half. [Ha! Who would have thought a simple step like this would come back to haunt me later.]

Then, if you weren't smart and didn't read first the reviews that said the brine was too herby, you will spend $9 on fresh herbs for the brine.

Then you will read the fine print that says "brine for 12 hours."


I was hoping for a quickie brine since Larry was always happy with those. So you find something else for dinner and continue the process the next day.

Next day, you pull the chicken out of the refrigerator, blot it dry and use the 3-step coating process (dry/wet/dry). Then you will use your electric wok with the temperature gauge and heat to 340 degrees (for breasts ONLY. Dark meat should be cooked at 320). When the temperature light indicator goes out, you will gently lower the triple-coated breast half into the 340 degree peanut oil and you will watch it slowly sink to the bottom and begin to absorb oil like a sponge.

Wait! Where is the sizzle?? Where is the bubbling hot goodness that is the preview of coming events?? And even though we have a temperature gauge RIGHT IN FRONT OF US, we clip on a candy thermometer. And when IT doesn't get any higher than 220 degrees, we hold our instant-read digital thermometer in the supposedly hot oil and watch as it only reaches 224 degrees.

Then we swear. Quite loudly.

Then we carefully transfer the hot oil (because even though it ISN'T 340 degrees, 220 is still hot) and we put it in a tall, skinny pot. Then we clip on not one but TWO candy thermometers because we are nothing if not anal retentive.

Then we watch as the oil stalls at 280 degrees.

So we transfer the pot to a larger burner because we realize that the small burner is only heating the very center of the pot. And finally, praise the Lord, the oil reaches the Keller-proscribed 340F degrees. And we plunk in our triple-dipped chicken breast and we fry for EXACTLY SEVEN MINUTES because Tommy says so. And it doesn't STICK. And then we wait for EXACTLY 10 minutes for it to cool before slicing open.

And the entire middle is raw.

And why would that be, class???

Because we didn't read Obiwon Keller's instruction to remove the brined chicken from the refrigerator 1.5 hours BEFORE frying. Ergo, the internal chicken bits are too cold to finish cooking in EXACTLY SEVEN MINUTES. Plus, it's too thick, not having ended its culinary life as a perfect 2.5 lb chicken.

By now, we have been brining/flouring/dipping/flouring/frying/refrying/and refrying yet again for TWO BLOODY DAYS!

See, this is how Vegetarians are born.

And the final outcome? The crust, while crunchy, was too dark, but the inside--when not raw--was moist and flavorful, so the brining step was a good idea.

The kitchen looked like a dirty bomb went off and I have made Larry promise to take me TO A RESTAURANT the next time we want fried chicken.

Oh, and I'm tossing my electric wok.

PS: Follow these Three Easy Steps to avoid Marilyn's Fate [also known as dropping the MF! bomb]:
1. Confirm the OIL TEMPERATURE
2. Confirm the Chicken TEMPERATURE pre-frying
3. Confirm the Chicken TEMPERATURE post-frying

3a. Screw all this and go to Chick-Fil-A


Jesus saves. Buddha recycles.

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