Full disclosure, I did not create this recipe, rather I adapted it from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc Fried Chicken from his cookbook “Ad Hoc at Home”. I found several other versions on various websites such as http://www.foodandwine.com, http://www.thekitchn.com, http://www.seriouseats.com which are all slightly different. You can also learn from Keller himself at http://www.masterclass.com. Basically, I cut his brine in half, add ice to quickly cool it down and soak the chicken for only 4 hours so that you can prep it in the morning and be eating by mid-day, which makes it approachable for a Game Day gathering. Since it is best served right away, it is fun to get the kids into the action with the dredging of the chicken pieces while you tend to the hot oil. While not difficult, it is a bit of production, so I make a big batch when I go to the trouble and share with friends. Chill up some bubbles, as Champagne makes a perfect pairing.

BUTTERMILK FRIED CHICKEN (Ktina’s version from Thomas Keller’s “Ad Hoc at Home”)

KtinaKelleher, adapted from Thomas Keller’s “Ad Hoc at Home”
This makes 18 pieces of chicken, so easily feeds 8 with 2 pieces per person. If your chicken pieces are quite large, it should satisfy 12 people.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American


  • 4 Chicken Breast Halves ,2 whole split breast cut in half (8 pieces)
  • 4 Bone in Chicken Thighs
  • 6 Chicken Drumsticks
  • 1 quart Buttermilk
  • 6 cups flour
  • 4 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 2 TBSP Garlic Powder
  • 2 TBSP Onion Powder
  • 2 TBSP Cayenne Pepper
  • 3-4* quarts Canola or Vegetable Oil for frying
  • 1* quart Peanut Oil for frying *omit if there are peanut allergies
  • Maldon Sea Salt for sprinkling


  • 2 Lemons quartered
  • 8 cloves Garlic smashed
  • 6 Bay Leaves
  • ½ bunch Flat Parsley
  • ½ bunch fresh Thyme
  • ¼ cup Honey
  • 2/3 Cup Kosher Salt (Morton's)
  • 2 tsp whole Black Peppercorns
  • 6 cups Water
  • 8 cups Ice



  • Place all ingredients except ice in a stock pot, giving the lemons a squeeze as you drop them in. Cover and bring to a boil. When boiling, give a quick stir, then replace the cover and allow to boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the ice to cool it down and bring to room temperature.
  • Place in chicken pieces in the brine and refrigerate for 4 hours. (The "Ad Hoc" recipe calls for 12, but I found 4 is plenty for a 1 day preparation. In any event, do not allow it to soak for more than 12 hours or it will become too salty.)
  • Remove chicken from brine about an hour before you are ready to cook. Rinse, pat dry place on a parchment lined baking sheet and allow to come to room temperature.


  • Prepare a dredging station: Divide the flour into 2 deep dishes and add half of the spices to each and whisk to blend. Pour the buttermilk into bowl. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper.
  • Pour enough oil into a large pan with at least 5” sides so that it comes to at least 3” deep. Turn on heat to medium high to heat oil. .
  • Heat oven to 300*
  • Dredge the chicken one piece at a time in the flour, then dip in the buttermilk and then coat in flour again, making sure it is well coated. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and repeat for the remaining chicken.
  • Test if your oil is ready by dropping a clump of the coating into the oil (you will have clumps of flour/buttermilk accumulate in the second dish of flour). If it sizzles quickly and floats, it's ready. If there is no action, increase the heat a bit.
  • Starting with thighs and drumsticks, gently drop into the oil.
  • Cook for 2 minutes then move the pieces about, making sure not to overcrowd the pot (about 6 pieces for a 12” diameter pot). Cook for 11-13 minutes, until uniformly golden brown. Depending on the size of your chicken pieces, you may need to cook them a bit longer. I found about 13 minutes was right.
  • Remove cooked chicken and place on a sheet tray with a rack, skin side up, to allow the grease to drain. Place in the oven while you cook the breast pieces, using the same process. The breasts should take a bit less time, perhaps 9-12 minutes depending on their size.
  • Place chicken on a serving platter, sprinkle with flaky sea salt (Maldon) and serve with Honey Hot Sauce.


  • I skip wings, as I find they don’t have enough meat to make it worthwhile, but if you are carving your own chickens (instructions in “Ad Hoc at Home”), by all means use them.  
  • This is best served right away.  If you are making it ahead, do not place it in the oven, simply drain it on the rack until, skin side up.  When ready to serve, reheat the chicken in a 400* oven for 10 minutes to ensure it is crispy and sprinkle with the Sea Salt. 
  • When dredging the chicken, the 2nd dredge will create clumps from the excess buttermilk.  Try to scoop these out after every 5-6 pieces so it doesn’t adhere to the pieces as it accumulates.  
  • Dredging the chicken is message business, so I like to wear disposable gloves and change them if they get too caked with batter. 
  • I suggest reheating leftovers in the oven and not the microwave to preserve crispness.  The microwave will make it mushy.
  • Costco sells Canola Oil in 3 quart containers (2 packs) under the Kirkland label.
  • I find adding Peanut Oil works well and allows for a little higher cooking temperature.  Omit if there are any peanut allergies in your crowd.  
  • I serve this with Ktina’s Potato Salad and MBC Coleslaw, both of which can be made ahead.  
Keyword Ad Hoc Fried Chicken, Chicken, Fried Chicken

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