As Scott posted back in January, Ideas in Food by Aki Kamozawa and Alex Talbot is a brilliant new food manual/cookbook that everyone should check out. What I love about their approach is that they do crazy, fancy, technical stuff with food (meat glue and liquid nitrogen come to mind), BUT they also include phenomenal recipes for things like mac and cheese and fried chicken. I decided to try out their fried chicken recipe in honor of Memorial Day and the unofficial beginning of summer! Aki and Alex have been kind enough to share their recipe from the book here, so go check it out after you finish reading. And after you try this out and love it, please go buy their book here! They start off the recipe with “This is the best fried chicken ever” so it’s worth a shot, right?
The basic gist is this. Cold smoke the chicken thighs, soak in a buttermilk marinade, dredge in flour and fry. Seems simple, but the results are fantastic! The cold smoking here is the most difficult part, but important since you don’t want to cook the chicken before frying. Fortunately, I have my rig from my first cold smoke adventure, so I was ready to go.
My workflow (did I mention I’m a nerd?) for the evening went something like this:
smoker going at 7:30 – check smoke production around 7:45
hopefully 8:30 flip thighs, shake almonds
make buttermilk mixture, remove chix ~10pm
I had the chicken thighs on top, the next shelf had cheese and almonds. In the bottom of the fridge I put 2 bowls of ice to keep the temp down while the sun was still up. I apologize to Aki and Alex; I did throw out the ice water before I remembered their suggestions for using it for pasta water or bread. Next time. Apple wood for the smoke was a departure from my use of hickory, but created a much more mellow smoke flavor that I really liked.
The results: amazing! I shared some with a buddy who texted me later that it was “SICK (as in really good)!!!” While Aki and Alex caution that it’s a bit of work, but worth it. I would say that once you have the smoker setup, it’s no more hassle than marinating chicken before grilling the next day.
smoker notes: like the use of apple wood. smoker performed well at an external temp of 65-70 degrees with ice in the bottom. I will continue to monitor the temperatures as we head into the warmer summer days. also, the smoke flows nicely with no real seal around the hot plate and no fans.
tasting notes: with both hot sauce in the marinade/batter liquid and cayenne in the dredging flour, I would have expected a bit more kick. I plan on upping the amounts or using fresher cayenne next time. I should also keep the chicken in the buttermilk for the full 24 hours – I cut it to about 15. I ate the fried chicken piping hot at about 9.5 minutes of rest (I couldn’t wait the full 10) and later that evening cold. Both were excellent, but I think I might prefer it cold. This will certainly be a go-to for potluck BBQs this summer.
check out some more photos below: