Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ad Hoc At Home #1 Fried Chicken

Ad Hoc and The French Laundry (both the cookbooks and the restaurants) could not be any more different; they are like opposites, yet they aren't. Both involve good sound cooking technique but The French Laundry takes everything to a new level of refinement. (I am drawing my conclusions from others' accounts and photos, I've never been to any of the restaurants) From pg. 12 of Ad hoc at Home:

This book is not about restaurant food but rather the kind of food we eat at home: family meals... We're opening the book with the main courses-the birds, the meat, the fish- because when we think about what we're going to make for dinner, we tend to think of the main course that will be at the center of the meal and build from there.
I know that's how it works in my mind... Anyway, I was enlightened by my better half regarding that "best ever" roast chicken. He said not only was it Ashley Farms it was a particular breed: Poulet Rouge. Logically my next thought involved Fried Chicken.  Ad Hoc Fried Chicken.

I approached this recipe with a fair amount of skepticism attitude! After all I've lived in the South all my life (unless like WSH you dont count Virginia as the South in which case I've lived here more than 4 decades). I know a thing or two about fried chicken. It's what we DO here. Everyone in the South has their favorite fried chicken, maybe Grandma's or Mom's.. maybe a restaurant. My Mom didn't make fried chicken that I recall.. I'm sure Bro and Sis will correct me if I'm wrong. I do remember some Shake N Bake.... ick.  But anyway I have cooked and eaten my share of Fried Chicken so I defeinitely had an attitude here.

Nevertheless, I followed the recipe as best I could. You can find it online here.  WSH Cut the bird into 10 pieces. These birds are far smaller than regular supermarket birds. Here are the pieces drying after brining:

Here is the lovely flour coating: lots of colors and flavors, although I took exception to the cayenne. More on that later:

This being the south we had to have greens to go with the fried chicken, in this case, kale and mustard greens

Here is the chicken frying:

The done deal, It really was beautiful chicken, I had the oil a bit too hot on the dark meat pieces.

And the table:

Where there are greens, there is cornbread. This was a really good meal. But as I said at the beginning, Southerners approach Fried Chicken with a sentimentality, with attitude, with personal expectations. As I said, I took exception to the cayenne. To me, it masked the wonderful chicken flavor. This chicken was very juicy, very tender and surprisingly crispy. It's a great recipe. I recommend it, I would just use less cayenne on my next attempt.

I love the Ad Hoc cookbook, it's a great reference book as well as collection of wonderful recipes.

See you soon.

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