Thomas Keller’s Fried Chicken (AKA I Am So Full of Chicken Right Now)

5 Mar

I’ve been obsessed with deep fried chicken lately. It started with ordering it at Cal’s American Diner a couple of days ago:

It was OK but the saucy stuff at the bottom made the underside of the chicken unpleasantly soft. Plus it was $21 which seemed a bit overpriced. So I decided to make Thomas Keller’s deep fried chicken, which I’ve had in my recipe folder for ages but could never be bothered to make.

I was actually going to make it last week – I’d bought everything except the chicken – but James invited Luke and Madeline around for dinner. (He’s normally quite good about not springing surprise guests on me but he said that Luke invited us around to their place when they’d had us over just last week, so he told them to come round to our place instead). I figured I’d take a gamble and make it for guests, and worst case scenario we could just order some pizza.

And then the next day James came home (looking really guilty) and told me that he’d invited two more guests. James!!! Why do you do this to me?? So the fried chicken plans got scrapped and I made some lasagna instead.

But anyway today I finally got around to making the chicken.



  • 1 gallon water (a little under 4 litres)
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 TBSP honey
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup garlic cloves, skin left on, smashed
  • 2 TBSP black peppercorns
  • 3 large rosemary sprigs
  • 1 large bunch thyme sprigs
  • 1 large bunch flat leaf parsley sprigs
  • Grated zest and juice of 2 large lemons


  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 2 TBSP garlic powder
  • 2 TBSP onion powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper


  • 5 lbs chicken drumsticks (the original recipe says two 2 1/2 lb chickens that you cut up prior to frying but I was like pft)
  • 1 quart (liter) buttermilk
  • 10 cups peanut oil
  • Kosher salt


  1. Combine brine ingredients in a large pot, cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and cool completely before using.
  2. Place the chickens in the cold brine and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.
  3. Remove chicken from the brine and pat dry, removing any herbs sticking to the skin. 
  4. Mix the batter ingredients together in a bowl and place the buttermilk in a second container.
  5. Bring the peanut oil to 330F/165C. Dip each piece of chicken into the coating, shaking off the excess, then into the buttermilk and back into the coating. Place the chicken on a tray lined with baking paper.
  6. When the oil has reached the proper temperature carefully lower the drumsticks into the oil. The oil temperature will decrease so adjust the heat as necessary to bring it back to 330F.
  7. Fry around 13 minutes to a deep golden brown. Remove to a tray lined with paper towels. Let the chicken rest a few minutes to cool slightly.

So this was my brine the night before.

Then this morning I soaked the chicken. When James got home from work (at like 7pm – boo Amazon!) I heated the oil and battered my chicken.


Also I made a mistake with the frying. I put all of the chicken in at once, which dropped the oil temperature way low and it never really got back to 330F. So I just cooked the chicken a little longer (maybe 5 minutes more? I was kind of winging it). I don’t think it really affected the chicken but if I did it again I’d cook the drumsticks in 2 batches.

But anyway, tada!

It was super tasty! The overcooking didn’t make the meat tough but it did make the batter extra crispy – which is how James likes it, so yay! We both agreed that it was better than the Cal’s chicken. I loved the flavour in the batter but was less of a fan of the brine. It was very fragrant and you could definitely taste it in the chicken – I think it dominated a little bit (possibly because the drumsticks soaked up more brine than the whole chicken would have?). I’ll experiment with a different brine next time to let the batter shine through.

Also I don’t know if it’s the double coating of batter or what, but the texture was amazing! Kind of like a crispier KFC chicken. It really did taste pro and I was patting myself on the back. I ate a lot though and now I’m super full.

I don’t know how many it’s supposed to feed but I’d estimate maybe 5? 5 if you eat like me and 3 if you eat like Greedy Guts James.

Also the leftover peanut oil smells really good. Like … well, like awesome fried chicken. I was so sad getting rid of it. (James helped me pour it into a jumbo ziploc bag and I put it in the freezer. Then when it’s frozen I’ll double bag it and throw it out. Efficient!)

After this successful experiment I am one step closer to making my own chicken and waffles. I think I’d use boneless chicken thighs for that and scale the recipe way down because really, who can eat 14 chicken thighs in the morning? (The answer is James. James can eat 14 chicken thighs in the morning).


7 Responses to “Thomas Keller’s Fried Chicken (AKA I Am So Full of Chicken Right Now)”

  1. faydanamyjake March 6, 2013 at 12:04 am #

    looks good! Its fun indulging those food cravings 🙂

    • pamperedhousewife March 6, 2013 at 9:00 am #

      I always feel a bit better when I make them! Like “well it’s unhealthy, but at least I know what went into it!”

  2. Howie March 11, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    Nutritional Guide?

    • pamperedhousewife March 13, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

      I didn’t even want to attempt it! I have no idea how you’d figure out how much oil got absorbed by the batter. I can’t imagine it’s healthy though. =P

  3. Joan Ko March 11, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

    That looks so good, Kaye!

    • pamperedhousewife March 13, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

      It tasted really good too. =D We had some fried chicken later that week (from a place that’s famous for being Oprah’s favourite!) and this recipe definitely held its own.

      James liked my fried chicken better than Oprah’s but I don’t know how much of that is genuine and how much is puffery!

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