Courtesy chef Levi Mezick, Restaurant 1833, Monterey, California
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.
- 1½ cups kosher salt
- ½ cup honey
- ½ bunch thyme
- ¼ bunch rosemary
- ½ head of garlic
- 1 teaspoon coriander seed
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 chickens broken down into wings, thighs, legs and breasts (cut in half)
- 8 cups of buttermilk
- 7½ cups all purpose flour
- 4½ tablespoons garlic powder
- 4½ tablespoons onion powder
- 1¾ tablespoons paprika
- 1¾ tablespoons kosher salt
- 1¾ tablespoons cayenne pepper
- 2½ teaspoons fresh ground pepper
- 1¾ teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chives, sliced
- ¾ teaspoon thyme, chopped
- Canola oil, for frying
To create the brine, combine 16 cups of water with the kosher salt and honey in a pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, skim off the residue, add the herbs and spices and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture over ice to cool, then add the chicken pieces. Refrigerate the chicken and brine for 12 hours. Remove from the refridgerator, pat the chicken dry, then soak the chicken in buttermilk for another 12 hours.
Meanwhile, combine all of the breading ingredients in a large bowl. Preheat a pot of canola oil to 320˚F.
Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and dredge with the breading. Fry in canola oil (about 320˚F) until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F. Serves 4.
Chef Mezick recommends serving the dish with either deviled eggs or buttermilk cheese biscuits. Or happily, both.
1833’s Beverage Director Ted Glennon likes to pair the fried chicken with Marcel Lapierre’s 2011 Morgon, “From one of the greatest producers of Gamay on earth,” says Glennon. “This is a cru Beaujolais, one of the very best areas to grow the Gamay grape in France around the village of Morgon. These wines are refreshing and bright, just enough fruit and grip to wrap around the complex flavors of the chicken, just enough tang to keep your palate fresh and primed for the next bite.” Alternatively, Glennon suggests Louis Roederer’s NV Brut Premier Champagne. “This bright, savory, sexy brut Champagne from one of the best houses is crisp and bright. Fried chicken, meet Champagne! Clearly a match made in heaven.”