Even the most refined palettes will succumb to a little fast food, so when piecing together our ultimate happy meal, we immediately knew which three calorific dishes we’d be indulging in.
In our minds, Ad Hoc’s haute fried chicken is best paired with Sean Connolly’s crispy, duck fat chips and washed down with a creamy British milkshake from The Parlour at Fortnum & Mason.
With a few thousand miles between each component, we know that not everyone will have the chance to plug their arteries with our selection of full-fat indulgences. So we’ve persuaded all three establishments to share their recipes, so that their culinary magic can be replicated in any home.
Lemon-brined Fried Chicken, by Thomas Keller, Ad Hoc
As soon as the beloved Yountville, California-based chef Thomas Keller opened Ad Hoc, the long-awaited casual outpost of his growing American empire, all anyone could talk about was Fried Chicken Night. The only dish repeated at this family-style – you serve yourself, as much as you can – restaurant, the chicken is rendered remarkable through its 12-hour brining. Just long enough to get hungry again.
Ad Hoc, 6476 Washington Street, Yountville, tel: 1.707 9442487, www.adhocrestaurant.com
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Duck Fat Chips, by Sean Connolly, Sean’s Kitchen
The side order of chips at Sean’s Kitchen is a certain crowd-pleaser. While thicker than typical French fries, these perfectly proportioned hand-cut specimens possess an ideal chunkiness, complete with golden skins. For a superior, decadent taste, the chips are fried in duck fat and served salted and in paper cones. Resistance is certainly futile – they go with just about everything on the menu.
Seans’ Kitchen, Level 2, Star City, 80 Pyrmont Street, Sydney, tel: 61.2 9777 9000, www.seanskitchen.com.au
Rendered duck fat
Give the potatoes a good scrub and cut them into thick chips leaving the skin on. Pat dry with paper towels.
Pre heat duck fat in fryer to 130 degrees C and cook chips for 7-8 minutes or until soft to the touch.
Remove the chips from the fryer and drain well on paper towels. Allow to cool.
Increase the heat on the fryer to 180 degrees C and cook the chips again for a further two minutes or until golden all over.
Remove once more, drain on paper towel and serve immediately.
Season well with sea salt.
Strawberries & Cream milkshake, by The Parlour Restaurant, Fortnum & Mason
When it comes to the good ol’ classics, one can’t do much more than ensure the finest ingredients are used. The Parlour Restaurant’s strawberries and cream milkshake is the best for the simplest reasons. Made from organic jersey milk and Minghella’s artisanal strawberry ice cream, this milkshake has a sweetness and creaminess that we can’t quite put into words.
The Parlour, First Floor, Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, London, tel: 44.20 7734 8070, www.fortnumandmason.com
2 scoops of Minghella Strawberry ice cream
200cl of organic jersey fresh milk
Strawberry coulis to taste and colour
Place all ingredients together in a blender and mix on slow.
Pour mixture into a tall glass, garnish with two straws and a fresh strawberry.