Once again, He Who Will Not Be Ignored demanded fried chicken for dinner, and did so with less than twenty-four hours notice. I was inclined to indulge his whim, but didn’t have the time to make something as time-consuming as the Ad Hoc recipe. The fried chicken recipe in Momofuku promised crispy chicken in less than a day – problem solved.
I knew I’d need to get an early start to have any chance of serving dinner at our usual hour, so at 9 AM I cut a whole chicken into quarters and soaked it in a brine made from a quart of water and a half cup each of sugar and kosher salt.
After four hours in the brine, I cooked the chicken for 40 minutes in a bamboo steamer over medium heat, with the legs in the lower basket.
I transferred the chicken to a cooling rack and let it air dry in the fridge for two hours. While it cooled, I assembled the ingredients for “Octo Vinaigrette”: a quarter cup each of rice vinegar and soy, two tablespoons of vegetable oil, two tablespoons each of finely minced garlic and ginger, one and a half tablespoons of sugar, a quarter teaspoon of pickled chiles, a quarter teaspoon of sesame oil (not shown), and a few grinds of black pepper.
Combining the ingredients was as simple as tossing them all into container shaking them.
I removed the chicken from the fridge and gave it an hour to come up to room temperature. After half an hour I heated a quart of canola oil in a deep skillet until it reached 375°F. I fried the legs and breasts separately for about eight minutes each, turning halfway through.
I let the pieces drain foe a minute before cutting the legs in half, removing the wings, and cutting the breasts in half. I tossed all of the pieces in a bowl with about half of the vinaigrette.
I served the chicken over steamed rice that had been liberally soaked with the rest of the vinaigrette (top). This recipe is all about the chicken taste, with the crunch of the skin being a secondary consideration. The steaming step takes care of most of the cooking, the drying step ensures crisp skin, and the sugar in the brine provides the deep brown color. The revelation was how well the sauce worked with he chicken, adding acidity, heat, and a strong garlic/ginger bite – that sauce would taste good on almost anything.
So now I have a last-minute fried chicken recipe that I can rely on to satisfy He Who’s whims. It certainly beats this stuff: