Two days ago, I prepared myself some chicken-fried chicken. I said I would post more about that meal the next day. Unfortunately I couldn’t manage. I think I am finally able to accurately explain the experience that brought me to what might have been the greatest home-cooked meal of my life.
I knew I had leftovers. They seemed unrelated however. Mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese. They don’t seem to go together. It took the realization of chicken to make this all happen, Chicken was the only meat in my house. If you put those three things together: chicken, macaroni and cheese, and mashed potatoes, you are most of the way to my fall back meal at Cracker Barrel. All I needed was a vegetable and I had green beans, but what to do about gravy. It turns out gravy is easy. This is the story of what happened next.
I proceeded to make my meal. Only to realize that my kitchen looked like this!
So I strapped on my mp3 player, dialed up some Jimmy Smith(renowned jazz organist) and set to work. Thirty minutes and a number of songs later my kitchen had regained its original glow.
Step #2) Preparation
Pan-frying is an interesting method. It can be easy, clean, and enjoyable. It can also be messy, frustrating, and difficult. The difference is preparation. The problem with frying is that it includes a great number of steps. If you are prepared for those steps; however, it’s as easy as can be. You start with the assembly line
Henry Ford was a smart man. What you see here is 1 1/2 cups of seasoned flour, one egg(lightly beaten) whisked with 1/2 cup of milk, and a resting plate. A few things to note the seasoning in the flour is as follows:
2 tsp. seasoning salt, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 3/4 tsp. black pepper, 1/4 paprika (I used smoked paprika. Use whatever you prefer.) Finally, there is a plate for the meat to rest on before frying.
Step #3) The Gravy
When the assembly line is complete, you can turn to the gravy. Gravy needs a little time to make, and a little more to thicken. During that second phase is where all the other cooking takes place. To make the gravy I melted 3 Tbs. of butter in a saucepan. Once the butter is melted, whisk in 3 Tbs. of flour. This creates a roux. You want to keep this over medium low heat. We don’t want the roux to cook too much. You do however want to give it a couple of minutes to meld. This will avoid a floury taste in your gravy. After a couple of minutes drizzle in 1-1 1/2 cups of milk, whisking continuously. As the milk combines with the roux it will thicken into your gravy. This would be a good time to mix in a couple healthy pinches of salt, and pepper to your personal preference. I like a peppercorn blend for gravy, but do what you feel. Place this at a simmer to thicken. You could bring this mixture to a boil, but I don’t. I use the simmering time to do my frying.
Step #4) Fry Time
Now it’s time to turn to the chicken. For chicken-fried chicken, you need a cut of chicken flattened out. I used a boneless chicken breast pummeled with, of all things, a can of fruit cocktail. The idea is to lessen the thickness of the chicken to ensure that it cooks thoroughly.
Toss the flattened chicken into the first step of the assembly line. As the chicken is coated with the seasoned flour, it is prepped for further breading. Then, dip it in the egg/milk mixture and back in the flour. Now, we are creating a batter around the chicken. Once the chicken has been coated a couple of times place it on an empty plate to rest. In the meantime, heat your frying oil to a high temperature, preferably in a cast iron skillet.
When the oil has reached temperature (you’ll know if a drop of water spits oil back at you) you’re ready to put your chicken in. Place your chicken in the fat and frying begins.
Step #4) The Microwavables (optional)
In my meal I had some leftovers. The mac&cheese, biscuit, and mashed potatoes came straight from the fridge. The green beans were canned so they needed heated up too. My method was to heat up the things that took the longest first. So the order was: 1)green beans, 2)potatoes, 3) mac&cheese, and 4)biscuit,
Obviously, you should adjust to accommodate whatever side dishes you prefer.
While mastering the microwave timing, we should talk about frying time. If you’ve flattened your chicken out to a 1/4 – 1/2 inch, you’ll want to fry about four minutes per side. You will notice a nice browning that resembles what you see in restaurants. What you won’t expect is the wonderful flavor. After 4-5 minutes per side you should let it rest 2-3 minutes before plating. After that put it on a plate with your potatoes, cover in that glorious gravy and indulge.
Independent Kansan felt the need to relax this week and get away from the hard-hitting world of social and political commentary. Don’t worry though, the GOP is trying to repeal the healthcare law, and Sam Brownback proposed his new budget. There is still plenty to talk about. Until then, try the chicken-fried chicken. You won’t be disappointed. You could have this: