Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It's fricken good

Our beloved husband and father left us tonight to go do a rotation in St. Louis. Boo. I wanted to make him a really special meal as a send-off so he'd know how much we'll all miss him. I've been wanting an excuse to make fried chicken and recognized a good opportunity. I once saw this episode on Food Network of one of Bobby Flay's cooking shows and he made this for his girlfriend. It made my mouth water watching him prepare and eat those buttermilk biscuits. Buttermilk is one of my favorite ingredients. I just love what it does for cakes and scones. It seemed appropriate to serve ice cold IBC root beer as a beverage with this meal. I served them to my family (even my almost 2-year old) in the bottles and they were a big hit with my kids. They weren't at all interested in the rest of the meal, but since I was okay with my children having root beer for dinner on Bobby's last night at home for a while, there were no fights at the dinner table tonight.

The girls may not have enjoyed the food, but Bobby and I were pleased with it.

Fried Chicken

1 quart buttermilk, plus 2 cups
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons chile de arbol powder, or 2 tablespoons hot sauce, plus 2 teaspoons chile de arbol powder, or cayenne pepper
2 chickens (3 to 4 pounds each), each cut up into 8 pieces
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
Peanut oil, for deep-frying

In a large bowl or baking dish, whisk together 1 quart of the buttermilk, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 teaspoons of chile de arbol powder, or hot sauce, and a little bit of pepper, if desired. Add the chicken pieces, turn to coat, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Place the remaining 2 cups of buttermilk in a bowl. Stir together the flour, garlic and onion powders, paprika, and 2 teaspoons chile de arbol powder (or cayenne) in a large bowl. Divide flour mixture among 2 shallow platters and season generously with salt and pepper. Drain the chicken in a colander and pat it dry. Dredge the pieces a few at a time in the flour mixture and pat off excess, then dip in the buttermilk and allow excess to drain off. Dredge in the second plate of flour and pat off the excess. Put the chicken pieces on a piece of waxed paper or on a clean platter while you heat the oil.

Pour about 3 inches of oil into a deep cast iron skillet; the oil should not come more than halfway up the sides of the pot. Put the pot over medium-high heat and heat the oil to 375 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in batches, add the chicken pieces to the hot oil, 3 or 4 at a time and fry, turning the pieces occasionally, until evenly golden brown and cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to a rack to drain; repeat to cook the remaining pieces. Serve hot.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Mashed Potatoes

2 large russet potatoes

Wash potatoes and peel. Cut into large chunks (1 1/2 - 2 inch pieces). Put in large pot of warm, salted water and bring to a boil. Once the water reaches a boil, set your timer for 15 minutes. If the potatoes don't quite feel soft after 15 minutes, let it keep going for 2 or 3 more. Drain potatoes. Pour potatoes back into pot and mash with a potato masher. (Or if you have one, use a food mill like Ina does.) While you're mashing those potatoes and giving them everything you've got, add 3 or 4 Tbs of butter and a few teaspoons of salt and some generous shakes with your black pepper. Heat a small amount of milk (1/2 cup?) in your microwave. Add your milk a little at a time with a whisk and mix until you reach your desired consistency. Add more salt, pepper, butter to taste. Mmmmm......

Buttermilk Biscuits

Makes about 15
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 cups buttermilk


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat (French nonstick baking mat) or parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
  2. Transfer about 2 1/2 cups flour mixture to a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add butter, and pulse until the largest pieces are the size of peas. Return butter mixture to the bowl with the flour mixture. Use your fingers to combine.
  3. Add buttermilk, and stir just until mixture comes together; the batter will be sticky. Transfer to lightly floured work surface; use floured fingers to pat dough to 1-inch thickness. Use a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter or cookie cutter to cut biscuits as close together as possible to minimize scraps. Gather scraps together once, pat together and flatten, and cut out.
  4. Transfer biscuits to prepared baking sheet; bake until lightly browned, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven; cool on a wire rack. Serve warm.
Sequence of events: I started out with the potatoes. I washed, peeled, and cut them and placed them in the water and turned on the heat. Then I set out to make the biscuits. I mixed the dough, cut out the biscuits, and placed them in the oven since they need 20 minutes. By the time I was finishing up with the biscuits, the potatoes were ready for mashing. I prepared them in the pot I boiled them in and put the lid on to trap the heat. Then, while the biscuits were baking, I got ready to fry the chicken. It wasn't until this point that I realized that each chicken piece needs to boil for 20 minutes. It all worked out fine, we had enough chicken to get the meal started and the potatoes and biscuits were still warm, but next time I would start the chicken-frying a good 20 minutes earlier.

Still tossing 'em back!


The last Unicorn said...

Your girls really know how to toss those bottles back!!!! I am not a big fried chicken girl... but I think you could maybe pull me over to the dark side for a taste of that meal. Way to send off your man! I am sure that was enough to keep his hunger satisfied while he is away :)

Julia Warner said...

Wow now my mouth is watering. That looks like a really good meal. They look so cute tossin those bottles back. Such cute pictures. Only a week and a half more. Wahoo! I am so excited

Julia Warner said...

Wow now my mouth is watering. That looks like a really good meal. They look so cute tossin those bottles back. Such cute pictures. Only a week and a half more. Wahoo! I am so excited

Jill said...

Oh my goodness that looks so good!

Sara said...

oh man, that all looks SO delicious!

i want to know how you stay so thin and cook all these yummy dishes!!?

(p.s. David has to work later than I thought tonight. Maybe we can get together tomorrow. I really want to show you those new books!)

Mandi said...

Katherine, you are amazing! I wish I loved to cook even half as much as you do! It's funny that you don't use your blender often because that is actually the one thing that I use almost daily. Your food looks delicious! I wish I was there so you could cook us dinner! :)

Sandra said...

Also not a Fried Chicken fan, but I wonder, will this work with boneless chicken? It looks so good!

Jessica said...

We tried this and everyone loved it. I thought I might start a grease fire, but the house is still standing. THe biscuits were great also.

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