Monday, June 28, 2010

Fried Chicken, Southern Style

Growing up in the South, I always looked forward to fried chicken. ‘Cause Mama could really fry some chicken. Any good Southerner can tell you how to fry chicken. And of course, there are as many ways to make it as there are people who make it. With the exception of plenty of seasoning, everything else is pretty much up for grabs.

July 20, 2009 issue of Newsweek magazine had an article on southern fried chicken ( The nerve of those Northerners; laying their hands on our fried chicken. The article does make for interesting reading and water fountain conversation. The article centers on a product, Ad Hoc Fried Chicken Kit, available from Williams Sonoma for $14.95. The kit contains two packages of brine mix and coating. And now, you’ve got to buy the chicken. Sorry, but that is too much money for chicken. However, the author does say it was good. Personally, I am going to stick with my cheaper mixture of buttermilk, seasonings and flour. However, if you are just dying to try the Ad Hoc Fried Chicken Kit, here is the link

Southern Fried Chicken

1 Tablespoon sweet paprika
2½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground red pepper, preferably cayenne
¾ teaspoon white pepper
¾ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
3 – 3½ pounds chicken or chicken parts
1 cup buttermilk
1cup all purpose flour
1quart vegetable or peanut oil
¼ cup bacon fat, optional

1. Make two batches of the spice mixture, one for the marinade and one for the flour coating.

2. If using a whole chicken, cut into serving size pieces.

3. Combine spice mixture and buttermilk. Add chicken and marinate for at least 24 hours. Drain buttermilk.

4. Combine flour and spices. Stir to combine. Coat chicken in flour mixture. Place chicken in hot oil. Fry until golden brown.

To the fat police out there, this is good fried chicken; I never claimed it was healthy. I do believe it may well be worth the occasional indulgence. Some people also add a little bacon fat, but that is a personal thing. And personally, I never pass up a chance to use a little pork fat.

For beginning fryers, I am including a few tips to help you make good fried food. First of all, I prefer peanut oil, because it allows one to fry at a slightly higher temperature. Pork fat is added for flavor. Preheat the skillet. You don’t want to heat the food and skillet at the same time. Preheat the oil. Preheating the oil allows your food to start cooking immediately and absorb less fat. To test your oil to see if it is hot enough, add one or two drops of water. If it sizzles, you are ready to fry.

For those of you serious about cutting fat, this recipe works well when making oven “fried” chicken. For best oven fried chicken, use dark meat.

If you want another recipe from two southerners, the late Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock, give this recipe a try

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I Got the Blues…And You Should Get Them Too

Generally speaking when we get the blues, it’s not a good thing. Getting the blues is generally associated with misfortune, loss of a job, betrayal. But there’s a new blue in town. It’s call anthocyanin and it’s the blue you need to get. Anthocyanins belong to a group of chemicals referred to as flavonoids. They are responsible for the flavor and aroma of fruits and vegetables. Anthocyanins help promote good health through protection against heart disease, slowing the aging process, and the initiation and promotion of cancer.

Anthocyanins are found in blue foods such as blueberries, plums, red cabbage, eggplant, blackberries and purple grapes.

Data shows that blue foods make up only 3% of the average American’s fruit and vegetable intake. Here are a few ideas to help you increase your consumption of blue foods. Toss a few blueberries or blackberries into your morning cereal. Blend some fruit with milk or yogurt for a blue smoothie. Add a few berries to your muffin or pancake batter. Add berries to your dinner salad. And finally, just eat them. Fruits and vegetables require very little preparation and they make great snacks.

Here are a few recipes to help you get started.

Blueberry Dumplings

Serves 6 to 8.

4 cups fresh blueberries
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup water
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves

1½ cups all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
¾ cup milk
Vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt


For filling:
Mix all ingredients in a 12-inch skillet. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until berries soften and mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.

For Dumplings:
Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles a fine meal. (Mixture can be prepared up to this point and refrigerated for a day or two.) Add milk; stir until just combined. You should have a very sticky dough.

Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto simmering berry mixture, placing close together. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover skillet and simmer until dumplings are firm and tester inserted in center of dumplings comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Note: Dumplings will not brown. If you want to brown yours, place them under the broiler for a few minutes. I don’t think the dumpling gods will mind if yours have a little color. After all, the whole idea is to eat some good for you blue foods.

If you want to consume even more blue foods try these recipes:

Grilled Eggplant Stack
Rustic Berry Tart -
Blueberry Sauce -
Summer Berry Crisp-

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Knackle or Knuckle?

I was fortunate to travel around Greece for a few weeks and I promised that I would give you a few updates on the food. Well, I must confess that my goal of blogging while traveling just did not work out. I guess I just cannot travel and blog at the same time. However, I would still like to share some of my thoughts on Greek cuisine.

One of the most interesting things that I ate was pork knackle or knuckle – I am not sure which is correct. The menu said knackle and the waiter said knuckle. It was some part of the pork leg. It was basically braised pork with rosemary and roasted potatoes. It was good, but needless to say, I did not finish it. If only I had a refrigerator and a microwave.

I did try grilled sardines, just as I promised a friend of mine. They were okay, but would have been better with a starch of some kind. But with a few roasted potatoes, I would try them again. I was surprised that Greek food is not overly spicy. However, they do make good use of oregano, rosemary, garlic, onions, and a few other spices. It just goes to prove that good food does not need to be overly seasoned.

Since Greek food is based on local foods and emphasizes a plant-based diet, I thought I would tie Greek cuisine to our farmers market. Throughout the course of this summer, I will be featuring Greek dishes made with local ingredients. Some local ingredients I plan to feature include eggplants, zucchini, tomatoes and maybe okra. If you have a favorite Greek dish, please tell me about it. I love to hear about what other people cook.