Showing posts with label southern cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label southern cooking. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Spicy Southern Fried Chicken

A picnic in the southern United States just wouldn’t be complete without some fried chicken. My grandmother always fried hers in peanut oil because of its health benefits with the added bonus of a very high smoke point, ensuring the chicken will get crunchy on the outside, keeping it tender on the inside.

Did you know that today is International Picnic Day? Yep, that’s right. Why it falls on a Wednesday is anybody’s guess but at the very least, even if you have to work today, let me encourage you to take your lunch outside and find a picnic bench and enjoy it in the sunshine. 

If you’ve read my About Me page, you know that my grandmother’s fried chicken is one of those things I keep trying to duplicate. Mine’s good, because all crispy fried chicken is good, but it just isn’t the same as when she made it for me. I am also open to trying other people’s fried chicken recipes. Because, once again and repeat after me, there is no bad fried chicken. 

A number of years ago my daughters gave me Maya Angelou’s memoir/cookbook, Hallelujah! The Welcome Table.  *Affiliate link* Her fried chicken recipe calls for marinating the chicken for an hour in a generous quantity of fresh lemon juice. I was a little skeptical at first, but I can tell you, it brightens the flavors beautifully without being overwhelmingly lemony. I like to add a bunch of cayenne too to make it spicy but otherwise, this is essentially Maya Angelou’s fried chicken. Just one more reason to admire our late poet laureate and mourn her recent passing.

1 chicken (Mine was a huge fryer, about 6 lbs and a pack of just wings)
2 cups or 480ml fresh lemon juice
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 teaspoons cayenne

For dredging the chicken:
2-3 cups or 250-375g flour

For frying:
3-4 cups or 710-950ml peanut oil

Wash and dry the chicken with some paper towels and cut it into pieces.  Put all the pieces into a big Ziploc bag or a large bowl and add the fresh lemon juice.

Put it in the refrigerator for one hour, turning the chicken halfway through to make sure the top pieces get their share of lemon juice time.

Rinse, dry and season the chicken generously with salt, black pepper and cayenne.  I say three teaspoons of cayenne in the ingredients list but truth be told, I just keep sprinkling it on until the chicken is covered in red. We like our chicken spicy.

Put your flour in a paper grocery bag. This was something my grandmother insisted on. Plastic would not do.

Dredge the seasoned chicken in the flour.

Heat your oil in large pot. I use a heavy roaster, just like my grandmother did. Ideally, the oil should be at 375°F or 190°C when the chicken is added. Add a few pieces of the chicken and cover.

Fry on high until brown on both sides.

Reduce heat to low, cover the pot leaving just a small gap, and cook for 30 more minutes.

Remove from heat, drain on paper towels (an extra paper grocery bag also works well) and serve hot.  I pop mine into a warm oven if I am not serving immediately and to keep the first batch warm while I fry the rest.

Repeat the process until all the chicken is cooked.


This leg is for you! 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Garlicky Collard Greens

I come originally from what I considered the home of collard greens, by which I mean the southern US.  But I didn’t start to really like them until we lived in Brazil and I discovered another country that cooks collards even more than we do!  Couve, as it is called there, is a constant accompaniment to the traditional daily staples of beans and rice.   I mean, seriously!  Every day!  After almost six years there, collards became a regular side dish on our family menu as well.  The other night I made a small bowl just for my daughter and me, to serve alongside a potato galette.  I thought I’d share it here because I cut the collard greens as I learned to in Brazil.   My grandmother was most intrigued when I showed her many years ago and I thought it might be a new way for you too.

Big bunch of collard greens (10-12 big leaves)
2-3 cloves garlic
Olive oil
1 stock cube or flakey sea salt to taste
Black pepper

Using a sharp pointy knife, cut along each side of the stems of the greens and remove them.

Lay the leaves one on top of the other and roll them up as tightly as you can manage.

Start at one end of the roll and cut it into very thin strips.

Toss the strips gently to separate them.

Rinse the strips in some running water and set aside.

Mince your garlic.  In a large pan, gently fry the garlic in a drizzle of olive oil, being careful not to let it brown.  Add in the stock cube and let it dissolve.

Add in the damp collard greens.  Sprinkle with salt (if using instead of the stock cube) and the two peppers.  Pop the lid on the pot and cook for about five to seven minutes.   Your collards are done!

Like any green, they cook down to a fraction of their original size so plan on doubling or tripling – or more – if you have lots of folks to feed.

Enjoy!  Do you eat a lot of collard greens too?  I'd love to hear where you are from, if you do!