(Almost) Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc Brined & Roasted Chicken

When people talk about winning the lottery and how they’d spend their windfall, they mention things like buying real estate and buying cars. I’d buy Thomas Keller. Everyone has their price, right? I want to believe that’s true. Demi had her price in Indecent Proposal, but I imagine I’d have to shell out a bit more for my dream.

Brined and Roasted Chicken with Herbed Couscous and Steamed Asparagus

It would be an amicable relationship. Tom (that’s what I’d call him) would teach me his brilliance, while we would dine on his culinary creations. My kids would request his oysters and pearls every night and Tom would joyfully make it, while laughing at an inside joke with my husband. Tom would invite his friends over and before you know it, we’d be hosting James Beard dinners on a bi-weekly basis.

Can you tell that I’ve given this some thought?  ((blushing))

In the meantime, I can follow Mr. Keller’s (I can’t call him Tom until I win the lottery, remember?) recipes. And he sure is a great recipe writer.  Ad Hoc at Home is incredibly well written, user and family friendly. The recipe is not difficult, but a bit more time consuming than your average “throw the chicken into the oven” recipe… but let’s be real here. Mr. Keller doesn’t throw anything into the oven without forethought… and now I understand why. Chicken has never had it this good!

The brine ingredients
(the picture of them cooked in the pot was not pretty, so this is all you’re getting)

Brined Chicken, patted dry and brought to room temperature

Brined Chicken, Roasted

Chicken never looked or tasted this good!

Brined and Roasted Chicken over Herbed Polenta with Steamed Asparagus

(Almost) Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc Brined & Roasted Chicken

Adapted from Food & Wine

Makes 8 servings


1 gallon cold water
1 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
12 bay leaves
1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 small bunch of thyme
1 small bunch of cilantro
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 limes
8 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
8 skin-on chicken drumsticks


1. In a very large pot, combine 1 quart of the water with the salt, honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, thyme and cilantro. Add the lemon and lime zest and juice and the lemon/lime halves and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved.
2. Let cool completely, then stir in the remaining 3 quarts of cold water.
3. Add the chicken pieces, being sure they’re completely submerged, and refrigerate overnight.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
5. Drain the chickens and pat dry. Scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the skin. Bring chicken to room temperature.
6. On a large baking sheet, bake for 1 hour, or until juices run clear. 

Eat, Drink & Be Yummy!


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