Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton was born on August 28, 1774 to wealth and social prominence in New York City. She was the first person born in what would become the United States of America to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. Today, 199 years since her death, is the Feast Day of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.
Born into wealth and privilege, she married a prominent businessman in the import trades, William Seton. Through a string of events, William’s family fortunes waned. Disputes between The United States of America and the French Republic led to a series of attacks on American shipping. The loss of his ships at sea led William Seton into bankruptcy.
Already a sickly man, William’s health under the stress began to fail. On the advice of doctors, he traveled with his wife and eldest of their five children, Anna Marie, to Italy. While under quarantine for a month upon their arrival, William died, leaving Elizabeth a widow in a strange land. She and Anna Marie were taken in by her late husband’s Italian business partners, Filippo and Antonio Fillicchi. It was then that Elizabeth was introduced to the Catholic faith.
Elizabeth Ann Seton returned to America a converted Catholic. As a Catholic, Elizabeth was shunned by her former life in society. This spurred her to establish free school, dedicated to the education of Catholic girls. She also established a religious community in Emmitsburg dedicated to the care of children of the poor, and the first congregation of religious sisters in the United States. The sisters would later establish the first hospital west of the Mississippi.
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is the Patron Saint of Catholic Schools, Seafarers and Widows. She is also the patron Saint of Shreveport; Louisiana and the State of Maryland.
“The gate of heaven is very low; only the humble can enter it.”
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
In honor the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, I give to you Chicken from the Great State of Maryland and Corn-Crab Fritters from Louisiana.
Chicken Maryland with Corn-Crab Fritters
The Chicken and Gravy
3 1/2 lb whole Chicken
2 cups Buttermilk
1 cup Flour
Kosher Salt to taste
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
4 slices Bacon
Vegetable oil, for frying
Butter as needed for basting
2 tablespoon Butter for gravy
1 1/2 cups Whole Milk
Cut the chicken into 8 serving pieces, reserving the backbone.
Add the buttermilk and the chicken to a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place the bowl in the refrigerator. Brine the chicken in buttermilk overnight.
Remove the chicken from the brine. In a shallow bowl, season flour with salt and pepper. Reserve about four tablespoons of the seasoned flour for the gravy and set aside.
Season chicken lightly with salt and pepper and dredge each piece in flour, shaking off excess.
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Fry the bacon until crispy and brown. Place the bacon on paper towels to drain the fat and set aside for the fritters.
Pour off the drippings in the skillet into a heatproof container and set aside. (If you are like me, you have a container just for bacon drippings). Return the empty skillet to the burner.
Heat 1/4-inch of oil over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. Carefully lay chicken pieces in hot oil, skin side down, and fry until lightly browned, about 1 to 2 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken over and lightly brown on other side. Turn chicken once more so that it’s skin side down again. Cover the skillet, let chicken continue to cook, covered, for 2 minutes. Remove cover and continue frying chicken, turning as necessary, until well browned and just cooked through, about 5 minutes longer.
Transfer chicken to a wire rack set over a baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt. Brush with melted butter. Transfer to oven and bake until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees, about 35 minutes, basting frequently with butter.
Drain the frying oil from the skillet and return the skillet to burner. Add butter and whisk until melted and foamy, incorporating any browned bits. Add 2 tablespoons of reserved seasoned flour, whisking to form a paste. Whisk in milk and cook until a smooth gravy forms that coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes. Season gravy with salt and a generous amount of black pepper.
Place the chicken onto serving plates and ladle the gravy on top. Serve with the Corn -Crab Fritters.
3.7 oz fresh Crabmeat, picked
1/4 cup fresh Basil
1/4 cup fresh Italian Parsley
1/8 cup fresh Chives
1 can sweet Corn
1/2 cup Medium Cheddar Cheese, grated
Cooked bacon, reserved from chicken
2 tablespoons Flour
2 tablespoons Yellow Cornmeal
1 large Egg
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
1/4 cup Vegetable oil for frying
Fleur de Sel Finishing Salt
Fresh Basil for garnish
Drain the crabmeat. Pick through the meat to remove any shells. Set aside. Finely chop the basil, parsley and chives. Set aside.
Drain the corn well, place in a medium mixing bowl. Add the crab, cheese, basil, parsley and chives. Crumble the bacon from the chicken and sprinkle over the corn mixture.
Add the flour, cornmeal and egg. Season with pepper. Stir well to combine. Set Fritter Mixture aside.
Prepare a paper towel lined wire rack. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat until shimmering.
Add the Fritter Mixture 1 heaping tablespoon at a time to the pan and fry until golden brown on one side.
Gently flip the fritter over with a spatula and give it a light press to flatten it out, and then fry until the other side becomes golden brown and crisp.
Drain the fritters on the paper towels. Sprinkle with the finishing salt just before serving. Garnish with fresh basil for a splash of color.