This is the first fried chicken I have had since moving to Charleston. Nothing says the south quite like fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy. Thomas Keller
of the French Laundry
fame serves this chicken at Ad Hoc
every Tuesday. This is quite simply the best fried chicken ever. I have tweaked it a bit from the original recipe after making it a few times. Less bay leaves, added peppers, fresh turmeric, honey in the buttermilk and some other changes. The brine maintains texture and flavors the chicken. It is delicious hot or cold. The buttermilk and honey impart a tang and sweetness. The coating fries perfectly if you maintain the temperature of the oil.
You need to start this ahead of time, it takes two days to make. The first 24 hours is brining in the refrigerator, but the active time for frying the chicken is no longer than any other recipe of fried chicken.
In my house it is for special occasions, as each piece is about 500-700 calories depending on if you eat the skin (and WHY wouldn’t you?).
1 gallon water
1c kosher salt
1/2cup of honey
1/2 cup raw sugar
2 bay leaves
2 heads of garlic cut in half
¼ cup yellow mustard seeds
1 finger of fresh turmeric grated (2 Tablespoons of ground turmeric if you cannot find fresh)
1 small hand full of whole black peppercorns
2 large stalks of lemon grass bruised
5 large rosemary sprigs
1 bunch thyme
1 bunch parsley
Zest, juice and rind of 3 Meyer lemons
5 habanero chiles cut in half
4-6 # of chicken parts (Split breasts are quite large these days, so if you find yours extra large, use a cleaver and cut each breast in half)
3T garlic salt
5T onion powder
2 T paprika
1T fresh black pepper
2t kosher salt (I use smoked Hawaiian salt)
1/2 cup of honey
12c peanut oil (or freshly rendered lard)
Place all of the brine ingredients in a large pot and heat till the sugar and honey melt. Remove from stove and allow to cool. To speed this process up, you can use ¾ gallon of water and then add 4 cups of ice cubes after cooking.
When completely cool add chicken parts. Refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
Mix together the honey and buttermilk.
Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels
Add to the honey and buttermilk and allow to soak for at least one hour and up to 12 hours.
Heat the oil/lard in a very large deep pot to 300˚, try to maintain this heat during cooking, do not let the oil get too hot.
Mix together the flour and seasonings in a large pan.
One piece at a time, take each chicken piece out of the buttermilk mixture, coat with flour, shake off excess and then dunk again in the buttermilk and coat again in flour.
Set the chicken pieces on a large baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Allow the chicken to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to one hour.
Start frying, two to three pieces at a time, do not crowd the chicken. It would be even better to do it one piece at a time so the oil maintains the 300˚ temperature, but that is time consuming. Use a candy thermometer to maintain the temperature as close to 300˚ as possible. When the chicken is golden brown (about 12 minutes for legs and thighs, 7 minutes for ½ breasts) use an instant read thermometer to check doneness. It should read 160 ˚. Remove and place on a sheet pan in a warming oven no warmer than 120 degrees.