Thomas Keller has a recipe for fried chicken in his latest cookbook, Ad Hoc At Home. It is pretty basic, sort of. The recipes are all over the web. No need to buy the cookbook unless collecting cookbooks is an obsession. Check. Actually, my Ad Hoc was a gift from Michael. Once the ingredient list is conquered, his fried chicken method is simple fried chicken. That being said, the brine recipe has 37 ingredients if counted individually (24 bay leaves, for example) , 9 if counted as units. The seasoned flour recipe has 7 ingredients not counting the chicken pieces or buttermilk dipper.
Make his brining solution and brine the chicken for 24 hours. Blend his seasoned flour mixture together and set it aside. I cheated, because....well...I just happened to have had his mix in the pantry. It was an ingenious companion gift with the cookbook from Michael.
His cooking temperature method is a bit fussy. 320 degrees for the dark meat. 340 for the white meat. 11 minutes for the dark meat. 7 minutes for the white meat. Too fussy.
I fried my chicken in a cast iron skillet over medium heat until it was golden brown before transfering it to a 350 degree oven to cook completely through.
What I love about his fried chicken method is the addition of fresh leafy thyme sprigs thrown into the hot oil after frying the chicken that spatter wildy, cook, crisp up, and turn a vivid green to arrange over the chicken. As beautiful as that sounds, that is where his recipe ends.
What a lost opportunity to explore the importance of pan gravy. Or sauce. Or something. Maybe it is the southerner in me, but what self-respecting chicken fryer would ignore the fabulous chicken bits and flavor left in the leftover oil filled skillet? Especially after it has been infused with fresh thyme sprigs!
After frying the chicken, I tossed a bundle of fresh thyme into the hot oil to crisp and arranged it over the chicken.
I added an equal amount of flour to the skillet for a roux and finished the gravy with chicken stock and heavy cream.
The chicken was well seasoned, crisp, crunchy, and chin dripping moist. Fantastic. We ate our fried chicken wih a bowl of pan gravy for chicken meat dipping and a bowl of clover honey for crispy chicken skin dipping. Uh huh. Think about it. Undone.
The star of the meal was a much less complicated salad from our garden of sun-warmed just picked thinly sliced cucumbers and tomatoes dressed simply with lemon, olive oil, salt, cracked pepper, and fresh thyme.