Everyone who loves fried chicken is always looking for an edge. I found my edge in two places: Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Cookbook, and the introduction of Trisol.
Thomas Keller’s fried chicken is moist and delicious for many reasons, the main one being his overnight brine. This takes a lot of planning, so if you want to make this right you’re going to have to start a day in advance.
Trisol is a soluble fiber derived from wheat. The result is a texture that remains crunchy for an extended time and prevents the absorption of oil. When done right, whatever you fry with this stuff will stay crunchy on the plate longer than anything else you may have tried.
The end result is moist, delicious, perfectly seasoned fried chicken without nasty grease all over your fingers and face. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Here you go . . .
In a large stock pot, combine 1 quart of water with 1 cup of sea salt, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 8 bay leaves, 12 smashed garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons black peppercorns, 3 sprigs of rosemary, a few sprigs of thyme and parsley. Zest 2 lemons and throw the zest in the pot. Then, cut the lemons in half, juice them, and add the juice and lemons to the pot.
Bring all of this to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the salt is completely dissolved. Remove the pot from the head and allow to cool completely. Add 3 more quarts of cold water.
Butcher your chicken into pieces. This recipe will brine up to 6 pounds of chicken. Add the chicken to the pot, submerged completely, and refrigerate overnight.
The next day . . .
Drain the chicken pieces and pat them until completely dry. Scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the skin.
In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, 3/4 cup of Trisol, 2 tablespoons of garlic powder, the same amount of onion powder, 2 teaspoons of cayenne and 2 teaspoons of salt. Add 2 cups of buttermilk to a large, shallow bowl. One piece at a time, dip the chicken in the buttermilk, then dredge in the flour mixture. You want the chicken completely covered, so press it on there if necessary. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper.
In a large skillet or stock pot, heat 3-5 inches of peanut oil to 350 degrees. Fry the chicken 2-3 pieces at a time over medium heat until golden and crunchy and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each piece registers 160 degrees. This takes up to 20 minutes. Whatever you do, don’t crowd the skillet. If you place too many pieces of chicken in at once, the oil will cool too quickly and you’ll end up with a greasy mess.
Transfer the chicken to paper towels to drain, and keep warm in the oven while you fry the remaining chicken pieces. Transfer the fried chicken to a platter.
Serve hot or at room temperature.