Searching for the perfect fried chicken was extremely fun. My staff and I all grew up loving it, and we wanted to add it to the menu. It was a lot of work. We cooked 75 recipes in a single day. And we tried everything. We covered the chicken in rice pearls, red curry, cornmeal, powdered-zucchini dustings. We tried different fats. We tried it in the skillet, in the fryer. We tried cooking it sous vide. We tried not cooking it sous vide, and on and on and on. Then, finally, we tasted all those different variations.
It was a group vote to decide on the final recipe.
Our entire bar was covered with little teeny round 8-inch plates, each with a little piece of chicken on it.
We were eating chicken for four hours. No kidding. It was an all-day extravaganza.
The winner was the brined chicken soaked in buttermilk with herb flour (see recipe, right). It’s tenderness and the juiciness was amazing. First of all, you’re brining the chicken. We put it in a liquid brine for 12 hours, which adds a nice salinity, which of course makes you salivate right when you bite into it. The mixture of herbs and spices is really nice. As far as the buttermilk goes, it almost adds fattiness, yet without a greasy flavor. It makes it so tasty and, like I said, very juicy.
The least favorite outcome was the chicken cooked in pork fat. Then we did one with a togarashi breading. It had some noni in it, and fishy chicken is not very tasty.
A week later we tried 25 different sauces to go with the chicken before settling on a bacon-infused butter.
Every Sunday night we do the fried chicken, thus the name. We have a limited á la carte menu because most people just want the chicken, along with a salad or a deviled egg.
By Friday, all the chicken is reserved for Sunday’s feast. We actually had to buy another fryer just to handle the volume. We go through 100 orders every Sunday evening.
It’s definitely become a little cult item in town. I walk down the street and all I hear is, “How’s the chicken, where’s the chicken, you got any more chicken?”
The Great Chicken Quest, By the Numbers
Mezick and his kitchen crew went through:
100 lbs of chicken
60 lbs of flour
30 quarts of duck, chicken and Wagyu fat