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5.0 out of 5 stars Buttermilk Fried Chicken, December 7, 2009
For all the years I've been cooking I've been complaining to my husband about the quality of chicken breasts and how they don't cook up well and end up being stringy and tough. Well I've finally been introduced to "brining" which takes your cooking to the next level. Never in my life have I tasted such succulent chicken. Sure it took 12 hours of brining (salt water plus herbs) to get the right flavor but it was so worth the effort.

It might seem like a lot of work and where do you find space in your refrigerator? Well I solved that problem by cutting off the tops of two milk jugs. It was just enough room for one cut up chicken. I halved the recipe for the brine and divided it up between the milk jugs. Then I added the chicken and left it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day I rinsed off the chicken and left it in the refrigerator until about an hour before dinner.

When I made the flour coating (I made half the recipe) I didn't use the garlic and onion powder or the salt. Instead I just used 2 teaspoons of garlic salt, which worked out quite well. My husband did say he wanted the coating to be a bit more spicy or at least have herbs and spices in it so I'll try that next time. The most difficult part of the recipe for me at least is the actual frying of the chicken. Keeping the temperature at 320 degrees was a daunting task. It seemed I could get the temperature higher or lower and couldn't get it to remain at the recommended temperature.

So instead of stressing about it I remembered a tip from another cookbook that said to just fry the chicken until golden brown and then to put it in the oven. I tried a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes and it worked perfectly. Some of the oil did seep out of the chicken coating onto the pan but it didn't make too much of a mess. I think if I had a deep fryer it would have been easy to cook the chicken properly at the right temperature. You will need two (24-ounce) bottles of peanut oil for this recipe and expect to throw out the oil after you are finished because it will be very cloudy. Once we were eating the chicken we decided that maybe I should use half the salt in the next brining. While delicious it might have been just a tad too salty for our tastes.

Now that I tried one recipe I want to try more. The "Lemon Bars with Meringue" look very tempting. It does look like it will need a bit of adapting for a home cook unless you want to go out and buy a quarter sheet pan which can be purchased at amazon: Nordic Ware Bakers Quarter Sheet, 13 X 9 X 1. I might buy it because it looks like I'll make the recipe more than once.

What I liked about this cookbook the most was the careful attention to detail. Everything is considered so you get the best results possible. I like the idea of putting a damp cloth under a cutting board to prevent it from slipping.

One idea that didn't work for me at least was the idea to salt steaks twenty minutes before frying. I found it dried out the meat a little too much and didn't taste as good as when I salt it while frying. I wouldn't doubt that the steaks Thomas Keller uses are of a much higher quality than I can get at my local grocery store.

Some of the other recipes I want to try sooner than later include:

Chicken Potpie
Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup
Marinated Feta with Olives
Leek Bread Pudding
Scallion Potato Cakes
Plum Zinfandel Jam
Apple Fritters

Some of the recipes require you to make a jam or a bouillon before starting the recipe so reading through each recipe carefully is a must. Like for the "Fig-Stuffed Roast Pork Loin" you need "Pork Brine" and "Fig Jam." When making the "Poached Salmon" you will need to make a "Court Bouillon." The extra recipes are mostly at the end of the cookbook. These seem essential to your success.

Thank you to my best friend in the world who bought me this cookbook! One of my dreams in life is to learn to cook like a chef and with this book I'm well on my way to achieving my goal.

~The Rebecca Review

12/8/2009 - Today I made the Lemon Bars with Meringue. They are extremely lemony
and the meringue is easy to broil under a 400 degree broiler for ten minutes. Keller recommends that you use a kitchen torch or a propane torch but I found that wasn't needed. Just broil for 10 minutes and you're done. I'd suggest refrigerating the lemon bars right up until serving time and then making the meringue right before serving as the meringue tends to weep a little. I might try the recipe again but with less lemon juice. Like maybe cup instead of one cup. To make the recipe you do need a candy thermometer and a double boiler. One thing about the crust - It needs about three tablespoons of water near the end to help the crumbs stick together. I was able to press the crust into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish and it worked great. So no need to buy anything extra.



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