Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gettin' Southern

One of my favorite episodes of Julia Child's In Julia's Kitchen With Master Chefs featured Leah Chase, of New Orleans Dooky Chase restaurant fame. It was a change from other guests like Roberto Donna (whom I believe my sister took a cooking class with--random), Daniel Boulud, and Rick Bayless, but it didn't take long before it was clear that she was as much an expert as any of the others, showing two ways to hack up a chicken (the rich way and the poor way) and being honest about biscuits. It was she who kept talking about "gettin' southern."

If you've read some of the previous posts, you know I love that stuff, and here's my attempt at it, albeit with a local, and Maryland inspired, flavor. Going clockwise from the chicken is chicken frying in shortening (one and half sticks were left over from a long term guest--I couldn't bear to just chuck it), a quick chicken stock (for gravy and cooking the greens), some boiling potatoes, and some kale. The stove reads "425." There were biscuits cooking in there. And to the right is the floured chicken staging area, along with a bunch of less than relevant stuff. Here's a quick rundown of how it went. I was pleased with the results.

Chicken - I hacked up a Plum Creek chicken, killed two days before the meal (Friday slaughter, Sunday meal.). The neck and back bone went for stock. The pieces (legs, thighs, wings, and breasts cut in half) were soaked for about six hours in buttermilk with salt, pepper, adobo seasoning, cayenne, paprika, and a healthy dose of Old Bay. The Old Bay was the key. After the soaking they were dredged in AP flour seasoned with salt, pepper, and a good deal more Old Bay. After being floured the first pieces to be fried were left to sit for about five minutes. The rest of the chicken was also left to sit pre-fry until room opened up in the 10 inch skillet. The pieces took from about 10 to 14 minutes to cook. I pulled them when the internal temp was just shy of 150 and put them in an oven still warm from cooking biscuits. There wasn't even a hint of rawness, and chicken was enjoyably moist. And no problem with no splatter guard.
Biscuits - From an old Sara Moulton recipe, and a great way to use up leftover cream. I followed these directions, except I subbed in half spelt flour and didn't brush with cream. These are great, reliable, and easy. Very nice with butter or honey. And the cream came from happy Ohio cows via Country Gristmill (at the Shaker North Union Markets). Same with the spelt.

Potatoes - Local red potatoes stored from last summer, boiled and mashed with skin, buttermilk, some butter, cream, salt, and pepper. Pleasant, if not standard.

Stock - Just took the leftover chicken parts--back, neck, and wingtips--and simmered them in water for a while. After about two hours I removed the chicken parts and reduced the liquid.

Kale - Same kale as from the last post. This time braised (covered) in a little chicken stock on the stove top for quite some time over med-low heat. Tasted great seasoned with salt and pepper. Even better with Frank's RedHot.

Gravy - After the Chicken was all cooked I drained most of the shortening (I know, shortening, gross. I just couldn't bear to throw it away.) and added some flour, making a quick roux. Then I added the remainder of the chicken stock and some creme fraiche and reduced it all together. It got a little to thick so I loosened it with water--not a problem.

And that was it. The meal took some time, but it was worth it. As an aside, sorry about the dirty stove, but check out these leftovers:

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