Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Notebook: Fried Chicken 'n Biscuits

If you're looking for a low fat, low salt, low calorie meal, you've come to the wrong place. In The Notebook, the two starry-eyed lovers Noah and Allie reunite after twelve years apart. (you can read my summary of the book here.) After spending a blissful night together, they cook biscuits and bacon for breakfast, and fried chicken and more biscuits for lunch. Personally, I didn't think biscuits and bacon was worthy of an entire blog post, especially since that's something we often cook at home on leisurely weekend mornings. And because this blog is partly for me to branch out and try new things, I knew making real fried chicken--not the oven-fried variety, which is a no-brainer--would be a challenge in and of itself, because I've never actually tried it. I'm always worried about undercooking the chicken and giving everyone salmonella. For me anyway, I've felt I'd have a better idea of how long chicken needs to cook (for pieces, that's about an hour at 350 degrees) and I didn't think I had the confidence to try frying it. I also wanted to try a different biscuit recipe. I usually follow the one in my favorite cookbook, The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook; for this challenge I called my mother for her recipe. She sent me one from her 1962 Better Homes and Gardens cookbook she's had since she married. (Mom says that it saved her life because she didn't know how to cook when she married; I can't imagine why because her mother was an amazing cook, and Mom is too!) I also decided to revisit the sauteed vegetables from my last post, minus the okra and mushrooms, and give it a little twist--bacon. (I didn't want it to feel left out, after all.) Since I'd never fried a chicken before, who better to call on for help but Paula Deen? Here's her recipe I used: 3 eggs 1/3 cup water About 1 cup hot red pepper sauce (recommended: Texas Pete) 2 cups self-rising flour 1 teaspoon pepper House seasoning, recipe follows 1 (1 to 2 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into pieces Oil, for frying, preferably peanut oil Directions In a medium size bowl, beat the eggs with the water. Add enough hot sauce so the egg mixture is bright orange. In another bowl, combine the flour and pepper. Season the chicken with the house seasoning. Dip the seasoned chicken in the egg, and then coat well in the flour mixture. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F in a deep pot. Do not fill the pot more than 1/2 full with oil. Fry the chicken in the oil until brown and crisp. Dark meat takes longer then white meat. It should take dark meat about 13 to 14 minutes, white meat around 8 to 10 minutes. House Seasoning: 1 cup salt 1/4 cup black pepper 1/4 cup garlic powder Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months. (source) Other than a little too much of the seasoning on the chicken--I had a lot of it left over and would have had even more--it turned out delicious, even if it was a little salty.

Since Moe is allergic to eggs I took a few tablespoons of Egg Replacer mix and added a little water until it was about the consistency of egg. It worked just fine.

Here's the biscuit recipe from my mother's 1962 Better Homes and Gardens cookbook:

Biscuits Supreme

2 cups Sifted all-purpose flour

4 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. Cream of Tartar

2 tsp. Sugar

½ cup shortening

2/3 cup milk

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cream of tartar, and sugar; cut in shortening till mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk all at once; stir only till dough follows fork around bowl. Turn out on lightly floured surface; knead gently ½ minute. Pat or roll ½ inch thick; cut with biscuit cutter (Cut straight down; do not twist). Bake on ungreased cookie sheet in very hot oven (450o) 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 16 medium biscuits. Mom's note: I use dry milk for all of my baking, adding 1/3 cup (per cup) right after I cut in the shortening. Then, you just add 2/3 c. water. For this recipe, just use the whole 1/3 cup.

(Sharon's note: Moe is allergic to milk, but only slightly; I used half soy milk and half real milk in these biscuits.)

I guess this is what "follows fork around bowl" looks like.

I don't have a biscuit cutter; I always use the outside part of my Pampered Chef Measure-all cup. I'm not sure why the recipe says to cut straight down and not twist, but I did my best. Of course, this was the day my oven's thermostat decided not to work properly causing the oven to overheat and burn the biscuits! Luckily I rescued them while they were still edible; the boys liked them because they were doughy in the middle. (The oven has worked just fine since. Go figure.)

For the vegetables, I halved and sliced a medium-sized onion, diced up a jumbo-sized carrot (this made about a cup of chopped carrot) and chopped a medium-sized zucchini. I fried 4 slices of bacon and set them aside, drained the excess fat, and added a little olive oil to the pan. Once the olive oil was hot, I added the onions and carrots and sautee'd them until they started to get soft, then added the zucchini. I had some Emeril's Essence on hand and threw in a couple of tablespoonfuls of that. (You can see my first attempt at this for my crab feast here; putting in more seasoning definitely helped. You can make the seasoning yourself--here's the recipe--and I think I've seen it in the spice aisle as well.)

Once the vegetables were cooked, I crumbled up the bacon and mixed it in. My husband convinced the boys to try them, saying they didn't tase like vegetables but like bacon instead. I wouldn't go so far as that but the bacon really made a big difference.

Just look at the size of these carrots at the farmers' market! I love using fresh local produce.

Don't forget the veggies! Of course I HAD to make mashed potatoes to serve with them. The boys said I forgot the gravy, because after all, gravy ALWAYS comes with the mashed potatoes when we bring it home from Popeye's or KFC.

So the biscuit is a little brown. Next time I make biscuits I'll use my mother's recipe again, and hopefully they'll cook properly. They should go great with bacon.

My next project: a fall picnic. I was hoping to do that this weekend but I don't think I'm going to have time. I promise to bring that to you soon, though, while the weather is still warm enough for picnicking.

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