What were Sundays like when you were growing up? For me, Sundays were family time. It was crazy in the house, getting everyone into their Sunday Best before heading out to church. Back then, the Mass was in Latin. The only English I can remember was “Though the Mass has ended, go in peace”. Yeah, I was ready to go.Continue reading “Make Sundays Finger-Licking Good”
Today is National Alabama Day. Alabama, the Heart of Dixie, was the 22nd state to join the union. She was home to the original capital of the Confederacy, Montgomery. Alabama set the stage for secession, and nearly 100 years later, set the stage for the Civil Rights Movement.
Have you ever eaten at an El Pollo Loco? Good stuff, right? Ever since my first bite of their chicken, I have been searching for the real recipe. Believe you me, I’ve tried plenty and none has hit the mark. Guess what? Neither did this one.
Aren’t crock pots and slow-cookers amazing? Great in the summer when you don’t want to heat up the house. Awesome in the winter when you want a delicious meal that is ready when you are.
Have you ever seen the 2000 romantic comedy, “Return To Me” with David Duchovny and Minnie Driver? It was written and directed by Bonnie Hunt, and was the last film of Carroll O’Connor’s career. He died a year later, and we lost one of the great ones. If you haven’t seen it, I’m not going to spoil it for you other than to say this was a beautiful romantic comedy, a real throw back to a more innocent time in the film industry.
Way back a million years ago, when you got married your name was put on some interesting mailing lists of companies trying to sell the newly weds all sorts of things, from furniture to cook books and magazines. One of the things I received in the mail were some recipe cards. They were designed to go into a binder. The binder and the reset of the cards would arrive once you had agreed to purchase them. You would get ten cards a month. I never did buy the recipe cards, but I did use their free recipe for Maryland Chicken.
As I am checking my “National Date” calendar for any upcoming celebrations to inspire me, I came upon September 1 – National Chicken Boy Day. National what? Okay, this needed further investigation. What the heck is Chicken Boy?
One of the things I truly love about summertime is all that awesome family cooking. I love the weekends with my guys. Hubby is the true Grill Master of our backyard domain. I am a master as sauces and sides. Together we make a great cooking team.
I’ve noticed something while strolling through the meat section of our local markets that I find amusing. From the well-stocked chain stores, to the mega box stores and every kind of market in between that there is a new kind of chicken to be had in the meat section. It’s a Spatchcock chicken. Some have been rubbed with seasonings, others have slices of citrus tucked around them, while still others are draped in herbs such as Rosemary and Thyme. All are twice the price per pound of a regular whole chicken. I really don’t think that little sprig of herb or some spice or slices of citrus are worth the asking price. So it must be the chicken, right? After all, it’s a Spatchcock chicken – a special breed, right? It must be. This new bred of chicken has no backbone so as to spread out flat on a Styrofoam tray.
How many slow-cookers is too many? The reason I ask is because I’ve just shared with you an awesomely sinful recipe to honor National Chocolate Nut Day that utilizes a slow cooker, and that got me in a “slow-cooker” frame of mind. Which is fine, if you happen to have more than one slow-cooker.
It’s a lazy day. I’ve spent most of the morning menu planning for the next two weeks. Not that I always follow my plan. Life sometimes gets in the way, but at least I take comfort in the knowledge that I have a plan! As I look over my menu, I can’t help but to notice that there’s a heavy Asian-Pacific Islander influence in the meals I’ve selected. Maybe I’m just getting back to the basics of my roots – if that were possible. I’m a Heinz 57 of sorts – Filipino, Spanish, Native American, Irish and English with just a splash of Chinese thrown in for good measure. Yet most people mistake me for Italian or Mexican. Go figure . . . guess it must be the dark eyes.
Growing up, Fried Chicken – as in real fried chicken – was a stable in our house, especially on Sundays during the summer. Dad cut up the chicken, dredged it in flour and usually fried it in two big, black cast iron skillets filled with melted shortening. I can see him now in my mind’s eye, a kitchen towel draped over one shoulder.
Like most of us, I’ve got my collection of oven “fried” chicken. These are good recipes, but they all seem to fall just a little short of that true “fried” chicken texture. One morning, while I was making my spice rubbed picnic chicken, (Let’s Pack a Picnic!) it occurred to me that the problem with oven fried chicken was the pan. All my recipes had the same flaw in common. The chicken was placed directly on a rimmed baking sheet and placed in the oven to “fry”. In reality, the chicken pieces are “baking” on the sheet and not frying. Sure, we’ve dipped them in batter, rolled them in everything from crushed cereal to panko bread crumbs, but in the end, they sit directly on the baking pan and bake. To compensate for this, most recipes have you put a little oil or butter into the baking pan. While the amount of oil isn’t nearly a skillet-full, it’s still some oil, right? The picnic chicken just might hold the key.
A few weeks later, I took my favorite Oven “Fried” Chicken, and made a few little changes to the recipe. I used the recipe for Oven “Fried” Chicken and combined it with the cooking instructions for Spice Rubbed Picnic Chicken. Wow! Problem solved. The chicken is baked at a higher temperature, on racks rather than on a pan, allowing the hot air to circulate the chicken and give it a “fried” finish. The chicken is moist on the inside, with that “crisp” fried skin on the outside. Yum!
You can use the recipe that follows, or your own, which ever you prefer. This should work with any oven fried chicken recipe. And what would fried chicken be without some creamy chicken gravy? I’ve included a recipe for that, too. Hope you enjoy!
Southern “Fried” Oven Chicken
1 whole chicken, 1 to 2 ½ lbs, cut into 8 pieces
Bath (water enough to cover chicken, seasoned with seasoning salt to taste)
2 eggs, well beaten
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon Garlic Salt
1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 Tablespoons Oregano
1 Teaspoon Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Thyme
1 Teaspoon Basil
1 Tablespoon Paprika
1/4 Teaspoon Celery Salt
1 Tablespoon Salt
Cut up chicken and place in a container of water seasoned with seasoning salt. Let chicken soak over night in salted water in refrigerator. Drain chicken and pat dry.
Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 475-degrees.
Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil and top with wire racks.
In a shallow bowl, lightly beat egg with milk. In a separate shallow bowl, combine flour, seasonings. Dip dark pieces in egg mixture to coat lightly, allowing excess egg to drip off. Dredge chicken in seasoned flour.
Place dark meat skin-side up on prepared wire racks and place in oven on upper rack.
Roast dark meat for 15 minutes. While dark meat is roasting, dip white meat in egg mixture to coat lightly, allowing excess egg to drip off. Dredge chicken in seasoned flour.
Place white meat skin-side up on prepared rack. Transfer dark meat to lower oven rack, place white meat on upper oven rack.
Roast chicken in oven until brown and crisp, about 30-40 minutes; switching and rotating baking sheets halfway through the roasting process.
Once chicken is “fried”, turn oven off but do not remove chicken from oven. Make gravy.
NOTES: A little Hickory Liquid smoke can be added to the brine water for a smokey flavor that will penetrate deep into the meat. For added “crunch”, reduce the flour to 1 cup and add panko bread crumbs or crushed corn flakes.
Chicken Stock Gravy
1 Cup Chicken Stock
3 Tablespoons Butter, divided
2 Tablespoons flour
Salt & Pepper to taste
Pour chicken stock into a saucepan, bring to a gentle boil.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saute pan. Blend with flour to create a paste. Continue to cook until just golden.
Add flour mixture to chicken stock. Stirring constantly, cook to desired consistency.
Remove from heat, add remaining tablespoon butter. Blend until smooth. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
Transfer to bowl with ladle or gravy boat for serving.
Serving Suggestions: Mashed potatoes, corn and biscuits.
Years ago, a dear friend returning from Portugal gave Hubby and I a beautiful bottle of wine from his family’s vineyard. We decided to honor the wonderful gift by serving it with an authentic Portuguese meal. Our friend (a chef in his own right) was kind enough to share his recipe for braised chicken. It was sumptuous! Perfect for casual outdoor entertaining.
On a beautiful Sunday, I wanted to serve up a real Southern meal – perfectly fried chicken, a mountain of fluffy mashed potatoes smothered in down-home pan gravy, sweet corn on the cob and fresh from the oven buttermilk biscuits. This was a supper that would make my Okie ancestors proud!