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Ad Hoc Review

Happy Monday!

Fall is officially here and this weekend we celebrated with a friend visiting from out of town by doing everything Fall/New England like possible in  24-hour period – farmers market, apple picking, hiking, cabin trip, and of course lots of baking! The weekend officially started when I received a “Happy Friday” present, Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc cookbook, from my thoughtful fiancé. Ad Hoc was another of our Keller experiences in Napa and is now one of my favorite restaurants and cookbooks. 

The restaurant sits at the beginning of Washington Street in quaint Yountville, CA right outside of Napa. Ad Hoc came to be by origins of its name – it was to be a temporary solution to a problem of unused real estate. To make things simple Keller told his staff they would run Ad Hoc family style , serving 5 days a week, offering one option to their guests as if they were invited to a friend’s house for dinner. They offer one, 4-course family style menu that changes daily. All of the ingredients are picked fresh from their garden and French Laundry’s garden down the street and he cheeses and wines are local from the valley and mostly from personal friend’s vineyards (great friends!).

The cookbook is just as divine, full of beautiful photographs and exquisite recipes and lessons. Keller recommends making everything from scratch from mustards and jams to chicken brine and pie crust. It is not for the busy bee but great for lazy Sundays.

I tested out the cookbook this weekend in preparation for our 1st Sunday dinner at home. Now that summer is gone it’s time to cozy up with comfort food and football. My first attempt at mastering the Keller style was the Buttermilk Fried Chicken and the Buttermilk Biscuits. I paired this tasty and not hip-friendly dish with some heirloom tomatoes warmed with balsamic vinegar and for dessert I made my all-time favorite, go-to recipe – apple crisp, adopted from a Barefoot Contessa recipe. All in all the prep time was enormous but the result was delish!

Dying to try it? Here’s the recipe!


Chicken Brine
5 lemons, halved
12 bay leaves
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
1 bunch thyme
1/2 cup clover honey
1 head garlic, halved through the equator
1/4 cup black peppercorns
2 cups kosher salt
2 gallons water

2, 2/12 – 3 lb chickens


6 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup garlic powder
1/4 cup onion powder
1 tbs plus 1 tsp parprika
1 tbs plus 1 tsp cayenne
1 tbs plus 1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For frying and coating
Canola oil
1 quart buttermilk


1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve salt. Remove completely and chill before using.

2. Cut whole chicken into 10 pieces (2 drumsticks, 2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 breasts cut in half to make 4 pieces)

3. Add chicken pieces to the brine. Refrigerate for 12 hours.After chicken has brined for 12 hours, remove and rinse with cold water to discard excess salt. Pat dry and leave in a dish for 1 1/2 hours to bring to room temperature.

4. Combine all coating ingredients. Split between 2 large bowls. Pour buttermilk into 3rd bowl. Coat chicken in coating, buttermilk, coating and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

5. Heat oil to 320’F, using only 1/3 of the pot for the oil. Fry thighs and drumsticks for 11 to 12 minutes and breasts and wings for 7 minutes. Place friend pieces on cooling rack or paper towel lined tray to soak up excess oil.



Photos courtesy of Food Nut and Eat Me Daily.

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