Engineering Food decided to tackle the Fried Chicken from Ad Hoc last Sunday. PB and I had grabbed the last copy from the Williams Sonoma store on a whim a month or so ago. I’d heard about the legendary fried chicken from a few friends who had been to Ad Hoc. I thought, “How good could this possibly be??”
For those who aren’t familiar, Ad Hoc is a restaurant in Yountville, CA by Thomas Keller. The concept behind the restaurant is one menu, three courses, served family style. That menu changes daily, but is the only offering for that day. When I turned 30, I dragged a bunch of friends up to Ad Hoc to celebrate with me. I still remember the Kurobata Pork Loin on creamy polenta… mmmm.
So back to the Fried Chicken, what’s the big deal?
There isn’t really one magic ingredient for this entire recipe. We used chicken breast parts, instead of a whole chicken. I prepared the brine the day before and then brined the chicken for about 11 hours. The brine has a lot of simple ingredients: thyme, parsley, lemon, kosher salt, honey, peppercorns, etc. I really think that it made the meat extremely flavorful and moist.
The outer coating is also very well seasoned. The chicken is dipped in the coating, then in buttermilk, then again in the coating. This creates a wonderful texture to the coating. Its actually pretty spicy in parts due to the paprika and the cayenne pepper. Next time, I think we’ll cut down any additional salt in the coating. Some pieces were particularly salty and we couldn’t tell if it was the brined chicken or in the coating itself.
mmmmm. So good and much easier than we thought.
This past Christmas marked the 5th anniversary of the Cookie Battle that I organize at my office. I started the event because I had seen a short segment on the Food Network. Some other people had the idea from the Iron Chef TV series. I thought it might be fun to try to pull together our larger eCommerce team for a fun event. The first year, it was difficult to get bakers to commit to baking. However, every year after that, its gotten successively easier to convince people to bake.
We usually have up to 20-25 entries on the day of the battle. All entries are re-plated onto white Chinet plates and labeled with the cookie name and number. Surprisingly, people are really serious about naming the cookie! Every attendee and baker gets three votes to cast however they choose. There’s a grand prize for the Popular vote getter, 2nd place, and 3rd place.
As a treat for everyone, Chuck Williams is invited every year to judge the contest and select his own special winner. He’s 94 years old and takes his cookie judging very, very seriously. He will sample every single cookie on the table, arranging each bite on his plate in a very specific way. The rest of the masses are just haphazardly tasting the entire table, Chuck is extremely methodical about his tasting.
It’s fascinating to watch Chuck work the room. I’m always amazed that an American culinary legend is in our midst, tasting our cookies. He always has wonderful feedback about the cookies at the end. It’s great to watch the baker’s faces light up when he singles out their cookie for special commentary.
so Fried Rice and i decided that this was the weekend we’d try to make the pizza dough. i bought the a16 recipe book a few months ago and have tried several of the pasta dishes from the book. i’ve always been a little hesitant about making the pizza dough because….i have no idea. i guess i’m intimidated or something. we’ve been big fans of the Trader Joe’s premade pizza dough for quite some time now, so there hasn’t been a rush to make our own.
after our successful pasta party, i was inspired to make the a16 pizza dough. i followed the directions as closely as possible. all purpose flour seems to work pretty well, and the kitchenaid mixer performed perfectly! voila! “the best pizza we’ve ever made” proclaims Fried Rice.
my only tips:
practice patience. this dough is great, but you really do need a couple days to refridgerate the dough in between steps.
make sure the oven and the pizza stone is really hot
make sure your ingredients don’t have a lot of liquid in them. else you end up with a great crispy outside and a lake in the middle.
shake excess flour before tossing the pizza dough….otherwise you’ll get flour over everything in your kitchen.
looks we’ll have to try a second round of pizza dough to see if we can get the ingredients right!
>This is a very delinquent post for a engineering food dinner back in May. We decided to “go easy” and do Chinese home cooking. But the way our minds work, there always has to be either 1) a super complicated dish 2) something that uses way too much of one ingredient.
So the Main menu went something like this:
- Honey Walnut Prawns
- Asparagus and Crab Soup
- Pearl Meatballs
- Singapore-style rice sticks
- Stir Fried Vegetables
- Eggwhite custards tarts
PB had some eggwhite custard tarts the last time she was in Shanghai. I got an email nearly immediately afterwards, telling me she had eaten a dozen in one sitting. *Sheesh* Save for the rest of us, eh?
The first attempt with the regular egg custards was fine, but the crust didn’t turn out so well. This time, we decided to cheat a little bit and use phyllo dough for the crust. Toast set about calculating the number of egg whites it would take to create this masterpiece. (1 egg = 2 egg whites). We used about 2 dozen eggs for the entire meal. Oops, we always overdo some ingredient.
The end result is a ridiculously, fluffy egg custard tart. Now I know why PB ate a dozen of them. There’s no guilt, just bliss.
Pictures by Jay Tsai Photography: