Ad Hoc Fried Chicken Kit

Ad Hoc Fried Chicken Kit from Williams-Sonoma

I love eating at Ad Hoc, Thomas Keller’s casual restaurant in Yountville just a block away from Bouchon and the tiny Bouchon Bakery.  Their prix fixe $49 menu never disappoints us when we visit.  As I’ve said twice on the show before (here and here), it’s like eating a home cooked meal prepared by a top-tier kitchen staff.

Because we live so far away from the restaurant, we’re not able to go as often as we’d like to.  In fact, Arnold at inuyaki.com takes the cake, having been to the restaurant 30 times in 2 1/2 years. Oh how nice it must be to live that close to all the good stuff.

One of the meals regulars like Arnold rave about, that we’ve never been fortunate enough to enjoy, is their weekly “Fried Chicken Night” on Mondays. Keller loves making fried chicken, and I have only heard great things about this weekly meal at Ad Hoc.

Enter the Ad Hoc Fried Chicken Kit from Williams-Sonoma (available in stores only – no longer available online).  What appears as a small flour sack contains packages of brine and coating mix to make two batches of fried chicken.

Brine and Coating Mix

When made according to the inconceivably precise directions on the back of the bag, it’s like eating at Ad Hoc on the infamous Monday night everyone raves so much about.

The first step was simple.  In a large pot, combine the contents of the bag of brine mixture with 6 1/2 cups of water, bring it to a boil, then allow to cool in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Brine

While the brine was cooling, I figured I’d get to work on the chicken. We eat a lot of chicken in our house. Two or three times a week, usually. So I’ve had a lot of practice carving these birds.

Chicken

I cut the chicken into 8 pieces (2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 wings, and 2 breasts).  After taking this picture below, I re-read the instructions which said to cut the beasts into halves.  So I did that.  Again, if you’re cooking Keller, do what the man tells you to.

Chicken pieces

Once the brine was cool, I dropped the pieces into the solution, pressing to submerge them as completely as I could. Then I covered it, and put it into the refrigerator to begin the brining process.

Chicken in brine

Guess how long the brining process takes.  EIGHT TO TWELVE HOURS!

Yeah, that’s what I said too.

That seemed a little long for me.  I was happy to get an early start on this project, but at this rate we were looking at a pretty late dinner.  On the weekends, we tend to eat earlier because I have more time to cook and prepare. This was going to be pushing it a little.

After the 8 hours were up, I took the brine from the refrigerator, removed the chicken pieces and rinsed them with cold water to remove any herbs and spices that were sticking to them. After drying them with paper towels, I allowed them to sit at room temperature for a while.  I took this time to make my fry station, splitting the coating mix between two plates, and 3 cups of buttermilk in a bowl between them.

Fry Station

I heated my peanut oil to 330 degrees, then started coating my chicken pieces one at a time.  Starting with the legs and thighs (directions were very specific about which pieces to do first), I dredged the chicken in the coating mix, dipped it in the buttermilk, then dredged it in the second plate of mix until thickly coated. The directions stated not to shake off the excess, so I didn’t.  After all of the chicken pieces were coated, it was time to start frying this stuff, two pieces at a time.

Everyone in the pool!

Almost finished piece of fried chicken

I started with the legs and thighs, frying them for 10-13 minutes until they were golden brown.  When the pieces were finished, I transfered them to a paper-towel lined rack to drain.  The breasts and wings came next, which took less time to cook – about 6 minutes.  It was at this time that my oil became really nasty looking. Some of the batter found it’s way into the pot of oil, and I realized my temperature had gotten to 350 degrees at some point as well.  This had no apparent affect on the chicken, but the oil was definitely toast.

I served the chicken with biscuits, herbed mashed potatoes, and chicken gravy I made using some stock prepared from the neck, back, and bones from the cut up fryer.

Dinner's ready!

So how was it?  It was delicious – that’s how it was.  The meat was remarkably juicy and tender, and had a pleasant lemony flavor to it.  The brine certainly did this, and it helped tighten the skin as well, which helped the crust.

The crust itself was OK, but not as crunchy as I thought it might be.  After having experimented with Trisol, I’m kind of spoiled in that regard.  Nothing will ever be crunchier than that.  Overall, the flavor of the chicken far outweighed the flavor of the crust.

Either it was really delicious or we were both famished from the 12 hour wait for dinner, but this plate says it better than I can.

Complete slop - ever again!

I’m going to try Keller’s recipe from the September 2008 issue of Bon Appetit next, followed by the recipe in the new Ad Hoc at Home he’s recently released.  It will be interesting to see how they fare compared to this.

Supplies may be limited, but look for this mix in  the Williams-Sonoma store near you.  And buy Ad Hoc at Home, so you can start enjoying the comforts of Ad Hoc at home.

Wow.  That sounded just as weird as it looked when I wrote it.

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11 Comments

  1. What a fun project! Maybe next time around you could add Trisol to the breading and have the BEST of both worlds? I bet that fried chicken would be out of sight!

    • I love this idea! I’m definitely going to throw some Trisol in the next bag of coating mix. Thank you!!!

  2. I still haven’t used the kit you gave me. It’s TOO PURDY sitting in my kitchen! x

    • You could always make the chicken and then fill the canvas bag up with some old socks or something so it can still look pretty in the kitchen. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the shout out! Chicken looks great! Glad you liked it, but I think it’s better from scratch…and even better at the restaurant. 🙂 Also, you might try pairing them with waffles. Chicken and Waffles is on my last meal list. 🙂

    FWIW, here’s my post on making the Ad Hoc chicken from the recipe that was published in Food & Wine a couple years ago. There’s also some tips in the comments from some Ad Hoc employees. http://www.inuyaki.com/archives/84.

    I also did a side-by-side between scratch and the kit for a Chicken and Waffles showdown I did for a Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 a few months ago. http://www.inuyaki.com/archives/1910

    I wonder if Gastronomer’s suggestion of using Trisol in the dredge would work for this recipe, but it also might take the “hominess” out of this fried chicken recipe if it’s too crispy. For me, crispiness isn’t the be all and end all for fried chicken breading, and like you said above, “…if you’re cooking Keller, do what the man tells you to do.” 🙂

    • Arnold, thanks for coming by and for your comments. I appreciate your input and knowledge on the topic. You’re DEFINITELY an authority on the subject!

      Thanks for the link to the recipe from Food & Wine. The brine mix looks similar to the recipe in the Bouchon cookbook. It certainly smelled and tasted similar this time around (just less lemony, as you stated before).

      Man, chicken + waffles — you’re hitting me right where I live and breath. Out here in Long Beach, we have this place called Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles – http://www.roscoeschickenandwaffles.com – Snoop Dogg hangs out there. Best comfort food ever, but you’ll leave riddled with guilt afterward.

      Thanks again. I really love your blog. You’ve got a great talent in the kitchen and your posts are always entertaining.

      • I love Roscoe’s and have been to all of them I think, including Long Beach a few years ago. It’s definitely the nicest of all the Roscoe’s. I normally go to the Sunset/Gower or Pico/La Brea locations and occasionally hit the Pasadena one on Lake. You might find my Roscoe’s post entertaining. (http://www.inuyaki.com/archives/86) It’s a couple years old but it still holds up. I really need to go back…it’s been awhile.

        Thanks for all the nice words about the blog, too! I don’t know about talent…I just think I’m good at following directions. 🙂

  4. I wish my mom was still around so I can take her to Ad Hoc on a Monday. She cooked up a decent fried chicken (old school with shortening) when we were kids. So laborious! Thanks for the tip. Loyal to Bouchon, I haven’t checked out Ad Hoc yet!

    • Thanks Jaya. I’ve just been to your web site and I love it! http://www.sonomabonvivant.com

      I am so jealous of all of you who live in the true land of food and wine. It’s beautiful up there. If the stars align, when we retire, that’s where we’ll be. And the sooner, the better. 🙂

      Thanks again, Jaya. You have a new fan.

  5. Can’t wait to try this at home. Looks amazing. Thanks for leading the way.

    • Thanks Charles. Did you buy the Ad Hoc at Home cookbook? I think the recipe in that book actually tastes FAR better than this mix. I wonder if the mix was a pre-cursor to the book to raise interest in it. Definitely try Keller’s recipe in the book.


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