Last October I got to play Tyler Florence’s sous chef for a night. It was fun and delicious all around, but the transformative moment was when he fed me some of the fried chicken the rest of his team had been working on. I’d heard people rave about his fried chicken, a menu staple at his San Francisco restaurant, Wayfare Tavern. Nonetheless, I cautioned him that I didn’t like fried chicken.
Except it was wonderful. Rich with rosemary and sage and salt and pepper. Crisped to perfection, yet moist and tender inside.
The best fried chicken you’ll ever eat at home
For the poaching
6 cups chicken broth
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, gently bruised
1 tablespoon lightly crushed black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
For the breading
1 cup all-purpose flour
12 fresh sage leaves
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 cup buttermilk
3 eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1 quart peanut oil
To poach the chicken, in a large saucepan combine the broth, rosemary, peppercorns and salt. Bring to a bare simmer, then add the chicken thighs. Return to a simmer, then cover and cook, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain just below a simmer, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the meat reaches 165 F.
Meanwhile, prepare the breading. In a food processor, combine the flour, sage, rosemary, garlic powder, thyme, salt and pepper. Process until the seasonings are finely ground and mostly undetectable. Transfer the mixture to a gallon-size plastic bag. Place the panko in a second gallon-size plastic bag.
Once the chicken has finished poaching, transfer the thighs to a cutting board. Let cool until easily handled, then pat dry.
Place the buttermilk in a wide, shallow bowl and the beaten eggs in another similar bowl.
One at a time, soak each thigh briefly in the buttermilk then remove, shaking off any excess, and place in the bag with the flour mixture. Gently shake the bag to lightly coat the thigh. Remove the thigh from the flour mixture, then dredge though the eggs. Remove the thigh from the eggs, shaking off any excess, then place in the bag with the panko. Gently shake to coat. You may also need to pat the panko onto the meat.
Set the fully breaded chicken thigh on a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining thighs. If toward the end your panko becomes too moist to coat the thighs, add a bit more to the bag.
Once all of the chicken is breaded, you can either proceed with the recipe and fry immediately, or cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
When ready to fry, heat the oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium-high heat to 400 F. You will need a fry or instant thermometer to monitor the temperature. Also, heat the oven to 200 F.
Once the oil reaches temperature, carefully set 2 thighs into the oil at a time and cook, turning once, for 10 to 15 seconds, or until golden brown and crunchy. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the fried chicken to a clean rimmed baking sheet and set in the oven to keep warm. Allow the oil to return to 400 F, then continue cooking the chicken in batches.
Servings » 4
Source: The Associated Press
Suffice to say, I’ve spent far too much time since that bite trying recreate some approximation of it at home. And with time and many, many attempts I finally created a fried chicken that was delicious and memorable and crave-worthy.
But there was a problem. The recipe was almost impossible to share. You see, part of what makes Florence’s chicken so perfect is that he cooks the meat sous vide before it is deep-fried.
Trouble is, most people don’t have sous vide cookers. The solution ended up being poaching the chicken. Not quite the same, but still pretty great. This method also allows you to prep the chicken right up through the breading stage, then refrigerate it for up to a day before flash frying just before serving.
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