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.
Have you ever had a craving for something old? Something that once was a part of Americana – especially on Sundays in the summer? I can remember my mother frying up chicken in a big black skillet. The sounds of the skin sizzling in hot grease – the wonderful smells floating through the kitchen. I can see my parents so clearly in my mind’s eye – Dad swinging a meat cleaver, cutting up a big, plump broiler chicken for Mom to fry up. We always had our fried chicken with biscuits that Dad made from scratch and fresh corn that we picked that day from the small patch of corn growing out back.
I hadn’t made fried chicken in years. Oh sure, “oven-fried” is one thing, but it’s not the big-skillet-real-deal fried chicken of my simple country childhood. And I wanted some of that. I wanted the chicken I remember as a child, only this time without the bones. For one thing, Kiddo won’t eat chicken that is cooked with the bones. I guess that’s because he’s grown up eating the boneless, skinless variety of chicken that is “healthier”. With a good, double-coating of breading, you can almost achieve that outer “crunch” of the skin-on fried chicken. And that’s what we are really after – that bite into a crisp fried chicken with a tender, moist piece of meat. Yeah, that’s the good stuff!
Fried Chicken and Sunday Suppers go hand-in-hand all year round. Served up with some mashed potatoes and fresh-canned green beans. My oh my – my mouth is watering!
Fried Chicken with Creamy Gravy
Ingredients – Chicken
10 Boneless Chicken Thighs (or 5 boneless Breasts)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 Cup Crushed Ritz Crackers (finely crushed)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
oil for Frying
Open thighs flat and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. (Note: If using breasts, cut in half width wise for faster cooking)
Combine cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, remaining salt and pepper in a pie pan. Whisk together 1 1/2 cups milk and eggs in another pie pan.
Dredge chicken in cracker crumb mixture; dip in milk mixture, and dredge in cracker mixture again. Place chicken pieced on a wire rack and let sit for the breading to adhere to the chicken.
Pour oil to a depth of 1/2 inch in a 12-inch cast iron skillet (do not use a nonstick skillet). Heat oil over medium high heat (more on the high side). Once the oil is hot, fry chicken, in batches, 10 minutes, adding oil as needed. (If chicken begins to burn, adjust temperature).
Turn and fry 4 to 5 more minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack over a cookie sheet. Keep chicken warm in a 225-degree oven.
Carefully drain the hot drippings, reserving cooked bits and 2 -3 tablespoons of the drippings in skillet.
Ingredients – Pan Gravy
1/3 cup flour
2 – 3 tablespoons pan drippings
3 cups milk
salt & pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon Chicken Bouillon Granules
Carefully drain the hot drippings, reserving cooked bits and 2 -3 tablespoons of the drippings in skillet. Add 1/3 cup flour to the skillet with the drippings. Cook over medium high heat.
Using a whisk mix the flour into the drippings until it starts to brown, creating a roux. If the roux looks to oily and runny you can add another tablespoon or so of flour and mix again. Whisk constantly until the paste becomes nice and brown.
Slowly add the milk whisking constantly and blending the liquid with the flour mixture until combined. Add seasoning.
Let the gravy come to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until the gravy thickens up. If the mixture thickens too much add more milk as needed until the gravy is the consistency that you want. This could end up being more than the required 3 cups.
Taste and generously season again with salt and pepper as needed.
After Brother Dear’s passing in December 2014, his best friend from childhood created a group on Face Book for those of us that shared the same childhood memories, experiences and “rearing”. We all grew up in the same neighborhood, attended the same schools (for the most part) and shared the same childhood. I had always thought much of what I remembered about my childhood was viewed through Rose-colored glasses, and not necessarily the way it was. That is until this group began to share their memories. Now I realize there can be only two explanations – either we are all wearing the same Rose-Colored glasses or we had a wonderful childhood. I’d rather think it is the latter – that we truly had a magical childhood – one that allowed us to be children.