Ad Hoc Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Thomas Keller’s Fried chicken is just the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. The last time the New York Times had an article about this legendary serving was in 2008 when it was lauded for its popularity among diners.

The success of this recipe is achieved with planning and adherence to the directions, wholeheartedly. From the delectable juicy brine to dunking in buttermilk, then coated in a well-seasoned flour — the labor perfecting crispy crust can only yield the mouthwatering pictures below.

Back in 2008, I could only wish of visiting the Napa region to partake of the delicious poultry fritters, but I couldn’t wait and decided to make it at home, courtesy of the Food and Wine publication.

PS- I added 1/2 teaspoon of Paprika and used Peanut oil instead of Vegetable oil. I also put in half a sprig of rosemary and about 1 tablespoon of parsley while the chicken was frying for the extra herbaceous flavoring.


This was the first time I tried it, back in 2008 when I started my prerequisites for nursing school!

Thomas Keller’s Lemon Brined Fried Chicken

Thomas Keller's Lemon-Brined Fried Chicken

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: hard
  • Print

The VERY best Fried Chicken I have ever tried.

Credit: Food and Wine


  • 1 gallon cold water
  • 1 cup plus
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup plus
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 3 large rosemary sprigs
  • 1 small bunch of thyme
  • 1 small bunch of parsley
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • Two 3-pound chickens
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • Vegetable oil, for frying Rosemary and thyme sprigs, for garnish


1. In a very large pot, combine 1 quart of the water with 1 cup of the salt and the honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Add the lemon zest and juice and the lemon halves and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Let cool completely, then stir in the remaining 3 quarts of cold water. Add the chickens, being sure they’re completely submerged, and refrigerate overnight.

2. Drain the chickens and pat dry. Scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the skin and cut each bird into 8 pieces, keeping the breast meat on the bone.

3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Put the buttermilk in a large, shallow bowl. Working with a few pieces at a time, dip the chicken in the buttermilk, then dredge in the flour mixture, pressing so it adheres all over. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with wax paper.

4. In a very large, deep skillet, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil to 330°. Fry the chicken in 2 or 3 batches over moderate heat, turning once, until golden and crunchy and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each piece registers 160°, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to paper towels to drain, and keep warm in a low oven while you fry the remaining chicken pieces. Transfer the fried chicken to a platter, garnish with the herb sprigs and serve hot or at room temperature.


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