Monday, October 20, 2008

Better Baked Chicken

OMG, y'all, I made the best baked chicken last night!

Okay, so it wasn't exactly Coq au Vin and baked chicken is as common in the South as katydids and kudzu.

But really GOOD baked chicken is rare as hen's teeth.

Every mother-in-law has some God-awful recipe to pass onto unsuspecting brides.

Ignore them! Follow this recipe, fix it every-other Sunday (alternating with ham, of course) and your husband will love you forever.

That's a money-back guarantee.

Not-Your-Mother-in-Law's Baked Chicken
1 whole chicken, cut into either 8 or 16 pieces
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, preferably White Lily
2 tsps kosher salt
2 tsps dried thyme
1 Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika + additional for color
Fresh cracked pepper to taste

Put butter in roasting pan. Place in oven and preheat to 425. Watch butter to make sure it doesn't burn.

Wash chicken and set aside.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Dredge damp chicken in flour mixture, shake off excess, place on a cooling rack, skin side up. Do this to all the chicken.

Lightly sprinkle tops of chicken pieces on rack with paprika for additional color and flavor.

When butter is melted, place chicken skin-side DOWN in butter. Return to oven and bake for 30 minutes. turn chicken over and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the biggest piece reaches an internal temp of 160.

Remove pan from oven and transfer beautiful, golden chicken to clean wire rack.

Pan juices
1/4 cup+ All-purpose flour
1-2 cups Chicken stock

Place pan across two medium-heat eyes on stovetop. Bring pan drippings to a boil, scraping up bits with a spatula. Add 1/4 cup flour to pan and whisk until smooth. Slowly whisk in stock until desired gravy consistency is achieved. (I like mine thick so I use a little more flour).

Bask in accolades of appreciative family and/or guests.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Coffee Blond Brownies

My friend, Mary, has lovely taste and is always surprising me with the nicest gifts (she and City Girl have this in common). A LONG time ago she gave me The Silver Palate Goodtimes Cookbook, and the original for this recipe came from that. These are always good for a change of pace when you're taking something somewhere.

Coffee Blond Brownies

1 pound brown sugar
1 stick butter
2 tablespoons espresso powder, or strong instant coffee powder
1 tablespoon hot water
3 eggs
2 tablespoons Madagascar vanilla
2 cups unbleached AP flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Heat the brown sugar and butter in a saucepan until the butter melts; stir the coffee into the hot water and stir into the butter. Let cool.

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease an 11x8 baking dish. Beat the eggs and vanilla into the cooled butter mixture with a hand mixer. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and stir into the butter mixture with a spatula. Stir in the pecans and chocolate.

Spread the mixture in the pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes until lightly browned...don't overbake, they're brownies and they won't look real done when they are.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bread Salad/Panzanella

I knew The Residents weren't going to go for this and IN SPITE of the fact that it was very good and I ate a lot of it, they didn't. Go for it OR eat a lot of it. In all fairness, I think it's a cultural thing. Wet bread. We be callin' it dressing, I do believe.

But I'll make it again, if just for me. The tomatoes here are on their last legs...we're hoarding them now, and real tomatoes are a necessity here. As is fresh basil.

I had half a loaf of the artisanal bread we're so in love with. I had four medium sized tomatoes. I had a branch of fresh basil, and a medium red onion.

About 30 years ago my grandmother planted elephant garlic, and I have some of it growing in the backyard. When I dug it up this year, I took several cloves, roasted them sweet, and then pureed them with olive oil and put it in the refrigerator. So last night I took a couple tablespoons of the garlic puree, put it in the bottom of a baking pan with a couple of swirls of additional olive oil and heated it up in a 350 degree oven. Cubed the leftover artisanal bread, tossed it in the garlic puree, and then roasted the cubes until they were nice and brown. That was to keep them from getting soggy and it did.

I have a wonderful old McCoy bowl...a dark maroonish color with scallops up the side. Deep. I put in the toasted and cooled bread, the cut-up tomatoes, the finely diced onion and the basil...chiffonaded (?). Poured in about 1/4 cup Newman's Own Olive Oil & Vinegar dressing, a pinch or two of kosher salt and a couple of grinds of pepper. Tossed it and let it stand for about five minutes.

THE BREAD WASN'T SOGGY, it was lovely crisp with the juices soaked into it, but The Not Nice Kid wasn't having any of it and when she told The Big Boy that it was wet bread, he didn't even taste it. The Nice Kid ate some straight out of the bowl, but she wasn't crazy about the concept.

And that's the wasn't the food, it was the idea. My bad. I TRIED to explain that this was about a 200-year-old recipe so obviously SOMETHING about it must be right, but they weren't having it. Wet bread.

But that's okay. They tried it, liked it, chose not to eat it. I thoroughly enjoyed it and like I said, it will be back!!