Friday nights we have a sort of a family get-together. That is to say, Bat's BFF and her husband come over to decompress, and thereby give the old fogeys in our house a chance to catch up on the latest gossip from my alma mater. This gives me a chance to play a little bit in the kitchen, since, as long as it's only for three of us, sometimes the recipes mean FAR too many leftovers. Having a couple of extra people pitching in on the eating process means less goes into the freezer. That's not always a good thing, but then, the deep-freeze is often over-filled with goodies harvested from Pop's garden, so there is a built-in problem when it comes to extra servings.
I really didn't have to worry about extra, though, this week. Pop, who watches his food intake, and who doesn't care for chicken since the days of the Great Depression (when chicken and Spam were the meats on the table almost all the time), ate two servings of the bird, plus went back for seconds on the 'taters.
In other words, the whole dinner was a success, and I didn't have to worry about freezer space.
And the truth is, it was fairly simple. Much of the preparation can be done hours ahead of time (even the night before), and the cooking is low-fuss. The real trick is to brine the chicken at least three hours before you start to cook. And to use buttermilk (no cheats or substitutions). That's what (a) makes it tender and (b) gives it a little "tang". I also made mine gluten-free, by using garbanzo flour to coat the pieces, which gave it an added distinction in its flavor and texture, but you can go ahead and use an all-purpose flour, if you like.
There is something else to consider: keep the portions in a manageable size. I bought a six-pound package of chicken breasts on sale at the local supermarket, and it contained five pieces of bird. I don't know about you, but a single piece of meat that large is more than I can handle at one sitting, these days. Also, when they're that big, it takes forever to cook them. So, for this recipe, I stripped the meat from skin and bone, and then cut the pieces into sections approximately 1/3 pound in weight (slightly larger than the palm of my hand, not counting the fingers), leaving the tenders whole. If you buy leg portions, you'll want to separate the thigh from the drumstick. Of course, you can buy the pieces already boneless and skinless, if you feel like saving time, but I like the part where I got all six pounds for six dollars, when the prepared stuff was $3.49 per lb.
Also, if you want to fix these two dishes in one meal, it's easy enough to peel & chop your potatoes and chop your onion & pepper while the chicken is marinating, and let them stand in their own separate dishes, submerged in cold water, until it's time to cook them (about the time you put the chicken in the oven). If you do this, drain well before cooking.
At any rate, dinner is served.
We like a little color…
3 lbs skinless, boneless chicken pieces
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 cups garbanzo flour (divided)*
1 Tablespoon coarse-ground pepper
1 Tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cooking oil (I prefer canola, because it has no flavor of its own)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cut into 1/2 tablespoon slices
In a gallon zipper bag, mix buttermilk, honey, Kosher salt and chicken. Shake well, allow to sit in refrigerator at least 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 400º F.
Fill a gallon zipper bag with 2 cups garbanzo flour, pepper, Old Bay seasoning, and salt.
In a shallow bowl or smaller bag, put remaining 1 cup of garbanzo flour
In another wide, shallow bowl, lightly beat eggs.
Remove marinating chicken from refrigerator and pour away the buttermilk mixture. Pat dry the pieces of chicken.
Dredge each piece through the plain flour, then through the egg, finally dropping it into the bag of seasoned flour. Shake thoroughly as each piece is put into the bag, so as to cover the chicken completely.
In a 9x14x2" roasting pan, pour oil, place in oven to heat up. When oil starts to shimmer, remove from oven, add butter.
Carefully place the pieces of floured chicken in the pan, fitting so they do not overlap.
Place in oven, bake about 10-15 minutes, remove from oven, turn pieces over, return them to the oven for another 5-10 minutes, until they are lightly-browned.
Allow to stand and cool about 5 minutes before serving (they are also tasty served chilled).
*you can substitute your favorite flour, or whatever you have on hand.
3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes (about 4 cups)
2 cups sweet corn, fresh or thawed from frozen
1 medium sweet red pepper, diced
1 medium sweet onion, diced (Vidalia or Texas Sweets are best)
1 Tablespoon coarse-ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (approximately)
In a large frying pan or wok, heat olive oil with onions at medium-high temp until the onions turn transparent. Using a slotted spoon or a strainer, remove the onions from the oil, replace them with the potato chunks, salt and pepper. Cook until they begin to turn brown and slightly crisp, flipping with spatula occasionally.
Meanwhile, in another frying pan at medium heat, melt butter, sauté the corn until some kernels begin to turn golden-brown. Add peppers and stir until just mixed. Stir this and the onions into the potatoes. Let cook on medium heat for a few minutes, for the flavors to blend. Serve hot.†
†Leftovers of this can be reheated in a frying pan & mixed into eggs, for a tasty breakfast. It's even more awesome when you add freshly-cooked, crumbled bacon to the eggs…