I was actually hanging out along the outer fringes of Washington D.C. (Vienna, VA to be exact) when I saw Bon Appétit's tweet heralding their top Hot 10 2014 restaurant picks. I immediately zoned in on #1 because doesn't everyone want to say they've eaten at the hottest restaurant in America right now? Yes, that is me, hand raised proudly, flailing about drastically, actually.
It's true, I travel from my tiny northern Arizona town often for work, but I'm rarely 28 miles from B.A.'S #1 RESTAURANT PICK FOR 2014. Not when it hits newsstands and social media streams anyway. I'm usually impossibly far from those places.
Rose's is exactly the kind of place I gravitate toward: an eatery serving food I know and love but that have been "transformed" or "made new" with non-traditional ingredients and regional influences. And I think that's what a lot of people are looking for right now - good food that's "new" in a way that makes sense but is exciting.
I think what I regret most about not being able to visit Rose's is what writer Andrew Knowlton expresses in his review - "it's a revelation in dining" which is why Rose's made the top of B.A.'s list. Yes, it's about great food, but it's also about a great experience. For me, there's nothing better - and I would stand on line for three hours for that to happen for me.
Maddeningly, as close as I was, time was my enemy. I was scheduled to fly home the following day and had already made copious plans that could not be broken. Again, Bon Appétit came to my rescue. It was like they sensed my acute longing and soothed me with links to recipes featuring Rose's inventive menu items. They knew I wouldn't make it through the doors, but I could eat what others were standing in long lines waiting for. I just had to dust off some pots and pans.
If you are also too far away to sample Rose's impeccable customer service and game-changing food, I encourage you to read about them here on the Bon Appétit site. The "happiness" concept behind this insanely popular restaurant, I hope, will be a blueprint many restaurants will follow. While you're there, be sure to hook up with the amazing Rose's recipes B.A. has shared with their readers. The Pickel-Brined Fried Chicken recipe below is just one of several recipes included in this month's issue. Think I'll be trying their Strawberry and Tomato Sauce Spaghetti next.
While I may have missed my chance this past month for a visit, I'm not too worried about it - their business model and friends living nearby are an excuse to head east again and I'm confident I'll get eventually snag a table.
Fried chicken has been on the top of my summertime comfort food list, especially if it's sweet and spicy. I blogged a couple months ago about some Nashville-Style Sweet and Spicy fried chicken (recipe, again, from Bon Appétit) and while it's a recipe I'll go to again and again, I'm always looking for new fried chicken recipes that break the rules somewhat. The fact that this fried chicken is "pickle-brined" intrigued me from the start. Traditionally, Nashville Hot Fried Chicken is served with plain white bread and pickles. There had to be a connection, yes?
My mother was a big fan of fried chicken. I grew up on it, and I loved it, but she never brined her chicken. Honestly, the first time I'd ever heard of brining was after picking up Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc cookbook. I've never personally met Chef Keller but I knew I wasn't straying far from any recipe of his, so I brined my first fried chicken and I've never looked back. You shouldn't either. Not with this recipe or any fried chicken recipe, frankly.
The pickle-brine makes this bird come alive, and the attention to dredging-details (a single dredge here, not double) gives it it's crispy coating. I've stayed pretty true to Rose's technique provided here by Bon Appétit and used boneless, skinless chicken thighs. If you choose to go with bone-in whole pieces of chicken, you'll need to extend your cooking time a bit to make sure the chicken is cooking all the way through. And now, without further ado ...
Pickle-Brined Fried Chicken
Recipe provided by Rose's Luxury at bonappetit.com
- 1tablespoonyellow mustard seeds
- 1tablespoonbrown mustard seeds
- 1 ½teaspooncoriander seeds
- 1cupapple cider vinegar
- ⅔cupkosher salt
- ¼cupchopped fresh dill
- 8skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 3 lb.), halved, quartered if large
- Vegetable oil (for frying; about 10 cups) - I used my deep-fat fryer
- 2cupsall-purpose flour
- Kosher salt
- Honey, flaky sea salt (such as Maldon), toasted benne or sesame seeds, hot sauce (for serving)
- Toast mustard and coriander seeds in a dry medium saucepan over medium heat, tossing often, until mustard seeds begin to pop, about 3 minutes. Add vinegar, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until salt and sugar are dissolved, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in dill and 4 cups water. Let cool.
- Place chicken and brine in a large resealable plastic bag; chill 3 hours. Remove chicken from brine, scraping off seeds, cover, and chill until ready to fry.
- Fit a large pot with thermometer and pour in oil to measure 2”. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°. *Alternatively, heat oil in a deep-fat fryer to 350°.
- Meanwhile, place buttermilk in a large bowl. Place flour in another large bowl; season with kosher salt. Working in batches, coat chicken in buttermilk, then dredge in flour, dipping your fingers in buttermilk as you pack flour on to help create moistened, shaggy bits (the makings of a super-crisp crust); transfer to a baking sheet.
- Working in batches and returning oil to 350° between batches, fry chicken, turning occasionally, until skin is deep golden brown and crisp and chicken is cooked through, 6–8 minutes (my boneless chicken thighs took exactly three minutes per side). Transfer to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet.
- Drizzle chicken with honey; sprinkle with sea salt and benne seeds. Serve with hot sauce alongside.