Locked Down Cooking: Raiding the Freezer

I’m trying to clean out the freezer, using up items before my weekly shopping trip. Since I can’t run out to pick up something I may have forgotten, I’ve had to get creative as I cook. Here are two meals made from what was in the house on those days.

My favorite Oven-Baked Fried Chicken and mashed potatoes, with a little twist: smoked brisket gravy. The thing about oven-baked chicken is there’s not enough drippings to make a good gravy. But in my freezer, I had little secret ingredient to make a great, smoky gravy: burnt ends. These were leftover from my very first smoked brisketContinue reading

Tidbits

DSC_1775 (1600x1060)I did this one today and pretty much made it up as I went along.  I had a cauliflower that I needed to use and dithered about some before deciding to slice it and roast it with an onion and whole garlic cloves – seasoned with kosher salt and olive oil.  The meal needed some additional carbs so the wide egg noodles went into a post to boil.  A cheese sauce seemed perfect to tie it together, Parmesan garlic sounded good.  I reduced a hunk of slab bacon to lardons and crisped those up.  Worked out great!  Needs a name…DSC03143 (1600x1200)Here’s a kitteh!  He’s named Chase and is 2 years old.  Shelter staff mentioned he may have some Himalayan in him but I’m not seeing it, myself.  Mrs J notes that he is sitting in one of her newly sewn cat beds.DSC_1774 (1600x1060)Fried chicken is not a thing I can do very well but I do give it a shot now and again.  I go through spells where I just have to have bean salad and I tend to keep adding another can of whatever bean I can find to the container as it is eaten, adding additional vinegar and oil to the vinaigrette as needed.  The mixture evolves over time, naturally.DSC03137 (1600x1200)Moar kitteh!  This is Ringo, a 3 year old long haired boy.  Mrs J said he is a real sweetie.DSC_1764 (1600x1060)Mmm… steak, with roasted sprouts in a balsamic glaze, half of a huge potato, garlic bread, and a salad.DSC03146 (1600x1200)Last kitteh – this is Chevy, he’s 6 months old and has half his tail missing do to an accident.DSC_1768 (1600x1060)I’ll close out with a sloppy joe.  This one has a bit of shredded cheddar and a spoonful of my own giardiniera.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Let’s Have a Picnic

Buttermilk Pie 1

I’m a romantic. I love picnics – you know the fried chicken, potato salad, baked beans and tasty dessert kind of picnic. So I decided to put together some recipes for a nice picnic or your Memorial Day cookout. Picnic basket is optional.

The featured recipes tonight are an easy fried chicken and spiced up baked beans. What goes great with fried chicken and spicy baked beans? How about some salads?

Italian Potato Salad (recipe here)

JeffreyW makes a bunch of picnic sides, including Red Potato Salad and a Tomato, Black Olive and Mozzarella Salad (recipes and great photos here)

And then for dessert? A simple pie that looks amazing and tastes pretty good, too.

Buttermilk Pie  (pictured above and recipe here)

Now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite picnic/cookout foods? Do you have anything that’s different and unexpected? Don’t hold out, share in the comments.

Now about that fried chicken and my very favorite sweet and spicy baked beans that use unexpected ingredients:

Easy Fried Chicken

JeffreyW serves up fried chicken, baked beans and slaw

JeffreyW serves up fried chicken, baked beans and slaw (click for full size goodness)

(adapted from Cook’s Country)

  • 1-1/4 cups buttermilk (use 5 tbsp buttermilk powder and 1-1/4 cup water)
  • salt
  • 1/4 tsp hot sauce
  • 3 tsp  black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (this works better than fresh)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts (breasts, thighs, and drumsticks, or a mix – go with your favorites. With breasts cut them in half to make them equal size with the thighs, so they all cook evenly)
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 3/4cups vegetable oil

Whisk 1 cup buttermilk, 1 tablespoon salt, hot sauce, 1 tsp black pepper, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp paprika, and pinch of cayenne together in large bowl. Add chicken and turn to coat. Refrigerate, covered, at least 1 hour.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and remaining 2 teaspoons black pepper, ¾ teaspoon garlic powder, ¾ teaspoon paprika, and remaining cayenne together in large bowl. Add remaining ¼ cup buttermilk to flour mixture and mix with fingers until combined and small clumps form. Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture, pressing mixture onto pieces to form thick, even coating. Place dredged chicken on large plate, skin side up.

Heat oil in 11-inch straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. Carefully place chicken pieces in pan, skin side down, and cook until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip and continue to cook until golden brown on second side, 2 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Bake chicken until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160 degrees for breasts and 175 for legs and thighs, 15 to 20 minutes. (Smaller pieces may cook faster than larger pieces. Remove pieces from oven as they reach -correct temperature.) Let chicken rest 5 minutes before serving.

I’ve stolen this baked bean recipe from friends who wowed me with it years ago. Amazingly simple, it takes ordinary canned baked beans up a notch. Go for good quality beans and sausage and real maple syrup and it’s a can’t miss. Sit back and accept all the compliments that will come your way.

Nita’s Baked Beans

  • ½ lb spicy Italian sausage
  • 28 oz can favorite baked beans
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup

saucepan

In saucepan, brown Italian sausage, drain well and crumble. Add beans and syrup, let simmer for 15 minutes to heat through and let flavors blend together.

Probably should think about doubling this recipe, because the leftovers are even better.

National Fried Chicken Day

Geez there’s a day for everything.  Time to celebrate National Fried Chicken Day.

How about an easier fried chicken recipe that doesn’t require a big vat of oil?

This recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen (includes instructional video):

Photo from America’s Test Kitchen

Easier Fried Chicken

  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • Table salt
  • Dash hot sauce
  • 3 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts (breasts, thighs, and drumsticks, or a mix, with breasts cut in half), trimmed of excess fat (see note)
  • 2cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 3/4cups vegetable oil
  1. Whisk 1 cup buttermilk, 1 tablespoon salt, hot sauce, 1 teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon paprika, and pinch of cayenne together in large bowl. Add chicken and turn to coat. Refrigerate, covered, at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
  2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and remaining 2 teaspoons black pepper, ¾ teaspoon garlic powder, ¾ teaspoon paprika, and remaining cayenne together in large bowl. Add remaining ¼ cup buttermilk to flour mixture and mix with fingers until combined and small clumps form. Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture, pressing mixture onto pieces to form thick, even coating. Place dredged chicken on large plate, skin side up.
  3. Heat oil in 11-inch straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. Carefully place chicken pieces in pan, skin side down, and cook until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip and continue to cook until golden brown on second side, 2 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Bake chicken until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160 degrees for breasts and 175 for legs and thighs, 15 to 20 minutes. (Smaller pieces may cook faster than larger pieces. Remove pieces from oven as they reach -correct temperature.) Let chicken rest 5 minutes before serving.

If the video link above has expired, try this one:  Easier Fried Chicken, America’s Test Kitchen

Some Fried Chicken and Rocks

Just to keep the oven warm.  Been working steady the last few days, hauling and spreading rock along a little trail I keep up that makes a big circle around the property.  It’s just a handy way to get to different areas and makes an excellent route to follow when taking the dogs out for a run.  It’s just a dirt trail that I dozed out of the second growth tangle that makes up a lot of the ground cover in the area immediate to the house.  Erosion has deepened a few ditches that cut across the leg of the path that parallels the township road.  The ditches channel the runoff from two culverts under that road.  My little path is just a few yards from that road although screened by thickets of small trees and bushes.  The deepening of the ditches meant that I could no longer get my mower across.  Two new culverts with a generous cover of gravel have fixed that for the time being.

I’m tired and my leg is killing me.  You don’t want to know.

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Chicken the Kentucky Colonel Would Laff At

The cole slaw recipe that claims to be just like the genuine article from KFC worked well enough that I gave another recipe out there a look.  This one for the main item on the menu-the fried chicken.  [Edit:  Original link was dead so this link is to different recipe.]

There are several out there, most call for Italian dressing mix as an ingredient, and several also mention Lipton brand “Cup-a-Soup” style tomato soup mix.  We didn’t have either in the cupboard but Mrs J volunteered to make a store run.  She returned sans the soup mix, alas-Kroger either not stocking it or stocking it out of sight.  The recipe I was sorta following wanted it so I thought maybe if there was some tomato soup in with the buttermilk marinade it would work out.  I gave it a shot, added a can of condensed soup to the buttermilk and put the chicken pieces and the marinade into a plastic bag.  I mixed the rest of the stuff in a big bowl-included the Bisquick but missed on the tarragon and the chervil.  The chicken got a couple of hours in the marinade, then I took the pieces out and rolled them in the bowl full of breading and set those out on a rack.  I should have let them dry right there for a while but didn’t.  I soon had the  oil at 350 in a sauce pot and fried the chicken a piece at a time, just until it browned nicely, maybe 2 minutes per, and then set them out on another wire rack in a baking tray.  Already the breading was falling off the chicken, letting the breading dry for about 30 minutes was one technique recommended for avoiding that.  I think letting the marinade drip off the pieces for a while before dredging would help as well.  (The buttermilk was a thick as the condensed soup.)  These went into a 350 oven for about 45 minutes.

A quick note on the mashed potatoes:  added sliced garlic, romano, parmesan, riccota, parsley flakes, butter, and buttermilk.  They were really good, as was the gravy-made the roux from the breading mix and used buttermilk as well as regular milk.  There may have been a touch of the tomato soup in the roux.

Enjoy!

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Sunday Dinner

Fried chicken, twice baked potatoes, green beans.  Mm…mm…good.  Fill for the potatoes was minced garlic, French onion dip, and cheddar cheese.  Topped with crumbled bacon and some green onion plus more shredded cheddar.  Chicken was dipped in buttermilk, dredged in flour, dipped in beaten eggs, and dredged again in the flour.  The beans were straight out of the can, alas.

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Fried Chicken with Mmm..Mashed Potatoes

Thawed some chicken thighs and decided to fry them for dinner.  The asparagus was going to have to be used soon, been in the fridge for three or four days.  Of course mashed potatoes and gravy have to be part of any fried chicken dinner.  We’re not talking picnic here, where potato salad is expected.

I used a buttermilk marinade for the thighs, made my own from regular milk–added a few teaspoons of lemon juice to it along with red pepper and some seasoned salt.  They soaked in the milk for a couple of hours in the fridge.

I finished the chicken in the oven after browning the flour dredged pieces in hot oil on the stove top.  That turned out to be a mistake because my oven temp regulator decided 300 really meant 425.  I knew it was not accurate but I have been getting a good 350 on the dial thermometer when the knob is turned to 300.  Should have checked.  Fortunately the thighs didn’t dry out, though the crust got darker than I wanted.

The asparagus was steamed for seven minutes and then doused with a lemon/butter sauce.  That went without a hitch.

The mashed potatoes were good, used the colander to drain the cooking water and then right back into the pot went the potatoes with a couple of cloves of garlic diced fine.  A good dollop of sour cream followed along with several pats of butter and a splash of milk or two.  Use however much milk you need to get the consistency right for you.  The gravy was great, wish I had made more.  After the oil cooled enough from browning the chicken I dumped most of it into a container to fully cool, leaving a few tablespoons worth in the pan along with the crispy flour bits.  Into the reheated oil I added a couple of tablespoons of flour and let that cook for a minute or two, then dumped in some of the marinade along with some fresh milk, maybe a cup and a half.  Soon it was gravy!  I went with the usual few drops of Kitchen Bouquet to darken it a tad.

Biscuits would have been great on the side, but the bread I got out of the machine and buttered while still warm was pretty darn good.