Saturday, June 16, 2012

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

This one was the first recipe Aaron saw in Ad Hoc at Home that he really, really wanted to try. There are a lot of steps, so make sure you get yourself organized well ahead of time before digging into this one. It is very, very delicious though and Aaron and I were very impressed with the results as were Corey and Brian.  Best part of this? Corey is not much of a fried chicken fan, but enjoyed this meal. If you’ve been disillusioned by fast food fried chicken, I think this will change your mind. I’m listing a quarter recipe of Thomas Keller’s brine below, but because Aaron wasn’t a big fan of it, you can use any brine you normally use with poultry. Do stuff to your taste. I’m also doing a half recipe as that is what we did. I normally list a full one, but I think you all can figure this out. This makes more than enough chicken by itself.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken from Ad Hoc at Home:

Serve 4 to 6

4 lb. chicken

For the brine-
1 lemon, halved
6 bay leaves
¼ bunch flat leaf parsley
¼ bunch thyme
2 Tb. honey
¼ head of garlic
Handful peppercorns
½ c. kosher salt
½ gallon water

For dredging and frying-
Peanut or canola oil
½ qt. buttermilk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the coating-
3 c. flour
2 Tb. garlic powder
2 Tb. onion powder
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. cayenne
2 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Sea salt or kosher salt for garnish

To make the brine, combine all of the ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from heat and cool completely, then chill before using. The brine can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Cut the chicken into 10 pieces: 2 legs, 2 thighs, 4 breast quarters, and 2 wings. Pour brine into a container large enough to hold the chicken piece, add in the chicken, and refrigerate for 12 hours only.

Remove the chicken from the brine and discard the brine. Rinse the chicken under cold water, removing any herbs or spices sticking to the skin. Pat or let air dry. Let rest at room temperature for 1½ hours, or until it comes to room temperature.
If you have 2 large pots, about 6” deep, and a lot of oil, you can cook the dark meat and the white meat at the same time; if not, cook the dark meat first, then turn up the heat and cook the white meat. Aaron did the latter method. No matter what size pot you have, the oil should not come more than 1/3 the way up the sides of the pot. Fill the pot with at least 2” of oil and heat to 320 degrees. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet. Have a second baking sheet ready.
Meanwhile, combine all of the coating ingredients in a large bowl. Transfer half the coating to a second large bowl. Pour the buttermilk into a third bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set up a dipping station: the chicken pieces, one bowl coating, the bowl of buttermilk, the second bowl of coating, and the second baking sheet.
Just before frying, dip the chicken thighs into the first bowl of coating, turning to coat and patting off the excess; dip them into the buttermilk, allowing the excess to run back into the bowl; then dip them into the second bowl of coating. Transfer to the baking sheet. Your hands will get messy, but it’s worth it.

Carefully lower thighs into the hot oil. Adjust the heat as necessary to return the oil to the proper temperature. Fry for 2 minutes, then carefully move the chicken pieces around in the oil and continue to fry, monitoring the oil temperature and turning the pieces as necessary for even cooking, 11 to 12 minutes, until the chicken is a deep golden brown, cooked through, and very crisp. Meanwhile, coat the drumsticks, and place on the baking sheet.
Transfer the cooked thighs to the cooking rack skin side up and let rest while you fry the remaining chicken. Putting the pieces skin side up will allow excess fat to drain. Make sure that the oil is at the correct temperature and cook the chicken drumsticks. When the drumsticks are done, lean them meat side up against the thighs to drain, then sprinkle the chicken with sea salt.

Turn up the heat and heat the oil to 340 degrees. Meanwhile, coat the chicken breasts and wings. Carefully lower the chicken breasts into the hot oil and fry for 7 minutes, or until golden brown, cooked through, and crisp (as you will with all the pieces). Transfer to the rack, sprinkle with salt, and turn skin side up. Cook the wings for 6 minutes or until done as before. Transfer the wings to the rack and turn off the heat.

Rest the chicken for 7 to 10 minutes before serving to allow it to all cool down. If it is too cool because of the timing of cooking everything, place in a 400 degree oven for a minute or two so the crust is crispy and the chicken hot.
We served these with biscuits, mashed potatoes, and green beans. If you plan it out, this makes for a great weekend meal. At the very least, it’s worth trying once. 

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables

Not too long ago I managed to get a copy of Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home for super cheap at Title Wave. Even though the weather has been warm (and then cold and then warm), chicken recipes, especially Thomas Keller’s chicken recipes, make for great weekend dinners. That’s why this Saturday and next Saturday I will be posting two recipes Aaron and I have made recently from Ad Hoc. They are good meals to share with family and friends and I’m excited to master them in the future.

Today is all about roasted chicken. Try to get one as close to the size listed below to match the roasting time. And nothing is better than a good meat thermometer. We like to get many of our meats from New Seasons because they specialize in ethically and locally raised animals. If it is available and affordable to you, why spend the time making a wonderful family meal based around sad, hormone laden chicken?

The root veggie part is great because you can use whatever it is you have available to you. I’m listing below what is in the recipe itself, but I’ll mention here that we used sweet potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, leeks, an onion, and carrots. Use what you like because it’s your dinner. This is a long process, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time for prep and cooking.

Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables from Ad Hoc at Home:

One 4-4½ lb. chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
6 thyme sprigs
2 large leeks
2 tennis ball sized rutabagas
2 tennis ball sized turnips
4 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut in half
1 small yellow onion, trimmed, leaving root end intact, and cut into quarters
8 small red-skinned potatoes
1/3 c. canola oil
4 Tb. unsalted butter, room temperature

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 1½-2 hours, or until it comes to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Remove the neck and innards if they are still in the cavity of the chicken. Using a paring knife, cut out the wishbone from the chicken for easier carving later. Generously season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper, add 3 of the garlic cloves and 5 sprigs of thyme, and massage (yeah, I know) the inside of the bird to infuse it with the flavors. Truss the chicken.

Cut off the dark green leaves from the top of the leeks. Trim off and discard any darkened outer layers. Trim the root ends, cutting around them on a 45-degree angle. Slit the leeks lengthwise almost in half, starting ½” above the root ends. Rinse the leeks well under warm water.

Cut off both ends of the rutabagas. Stand them on end and cut away the skin, working from the top to the bottom and removing any tough outer layers. Cut into ¾” wedges. Repeat with the turnips, cutting into wedges to match the size of the rutabagas.

Combine all of the vegetables and the remaining garlic cloves and thyme sprig in a large bowl. Toss with ¼ cup of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables in a large cast iron skillet or a roasting pan.

Rub the remaining oil all over the chicken. Season generously with salt and pepper. Make a nest in the center of the vegetables and nestle the chicken in it. Cut the butter into 4 or 5 pieces and place over the chicken breast. Put the chicken in the oven and roast for 25 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400 and roast for an additional 45 minutes, or until the temperature registers 160 in the meatiest portions of the bird (the thigh and under the breast where the thigh meets the breast) and the juices run clear. If necessary, return the bird to the move for more roasting and check every 5 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let rest for 20 minutes. Just before serving, set the pan of vegetables over medium heat and reheat the vegetables, turning them and glazing them with the pan juice. Cut the chicken into serving pieces, arrange over vegetables and serve.

Obviously not a warm weather dish, but it is perfect when the temperature dips. The taste is incredible and it just feels so homey and warm. Give it a shot when putting your oven on doesn’t sound like the worst idea ever.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Pear Apple Crisp

Do you want to do a quick dessert with whatever fruit you have in the house? I recommend a crisp. This one is more of a fall to early spring version, but you can make it spring to summer with strawberries and rhubarb or peaches and cherries. Or really anything that you like and looks amazing. This really is the best way to make a seasonal dessert. Adjust the spices and sugar to your liking.

Pear Apple Crisp modified from The New Moosewood Cookbook:

About 6 servings

4 peeled and sliced tart apples
2 peeled and sliced pears
2-3 Tb. lemon juice
¼ c. sugar
1¼ c. rolled oats
1 c. flour
¼ c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
A dash each of allspice and nutmeg
½ tsp. salt
½ c. melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the apples and pears in a 9” square pan. Sprinkle with sugar.

Mix together the remaining ingredients (from rolled oats down) in a medium sized bowl. Distribute over the top of the fruit and pat firmly into place. Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is crisp and lightly browned and the fruit is bubbling around the edges. Serve at any temperature from hot to room. Best with ice cream.
 Super easy and you probably have a lot of this stuff already, especially if you like to bake. It packs up nicely for picnics and would be a welcome addition to any potluck. I love crisps and now I’m thinking of doing another one. I do love summer peaches!
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