Saturday, September 14, 2013

Southern Fried Chicken and Macaroni and Cheese

It is such a beautiful day here in North Carolina.  I hope that fall is here to stay!  I am sitting outside enjoying the gorgeous weather to write this blog post.

I have always lived in the south, but apart from drinking sweet tea and saying "y'all" and "bless your heart," I don't do that much to be "southern."  My parents aren't from the deep South, and I spent the first few years of school in an air base affiliated school, so I was around people from all over.

I figured, though, that since I am from the South, I ought to know how to fry chicken.  Not the way my mom does with just a thin coat of flour for breading (which I thought were chicken feathers when I was little and it was my favorite part), but the good old southern way with a thick, crispy breading.

I had tried several years ago to make it to no avail, so I was very nervous last night.  I thought we were going to end up going out to eat because I figured it would crash and, literally burn.  I spent a lot of time in the morning researching recipes on Pinterest, and found several that were different but sounded good in their own way.  I pulled from several recipes and ended up writing my own.

I mostly used this recipe, especially for the directions.  I liked this recipe, but wanted to use my own blend of seasonings and didn't want to go buy special blends.  This recipe had some interesting looking spices.

Then I had to decide if I wanted to do a dry breading or a batter.  One of the recipes I found did both, so I decided to triple-dip my chicken.

It ended up being amazing.  I was so proud of my down-home Southern dinner.

Southern Fried Chicken

(I did not take pictures of the process because I really didn't expect it to work.)

For the dry breading:
  • 2 c. self-rising flour
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
For the batter:
  • 1 c. self-rising flour
  • 1 Tbsp. corn starch
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 c. cold water or beer (I used water)
  • 1 beaten egg
Earlier in the day (I did this around 1 pm), cut your chicken breast into strips and place in a bowl of buttermilk to soak.

When you are ready to cook, prepare two bags of the dry mix and one bowl of batter.  I only used one bag of dry mix and when I coated the chicken the second time it got all sticky and the crust wasn't even.  Next time I will use two dry bags.

Take the strips out of the buttermilk and, without shaking them off, place them in a bag of dry mix.  Shake the bag to coat the chicken.  Then dip them in the batter mixture to get a good coat, and finally place them in the other bag of dry mix and shake again to coat.  This is what gives it the crispy, delicious crust!

 Pour some oil into a frying pan until you have enough to cover 3/4 of the chicken, and heat it to medium high heat.  This was the part I was most nervous about because it is so hard for me to judge oil temperature.  If it is too hot, the chicken will burn and the inside won't be done, but if it is not hot enough, the chicken will be soggy.  I found setting my burner to exactly between medium and high was perfect.  I dropped a small piece of the batter into the oil to check if it was ready; you can tell the oil is ready when the batter sizzles.

Once the oil is hot, place some of the chicken in to cook.  Don't put them too close together; I was only able to do 4-5 strips at a time.  Let them cook for a couple of minutes, then turn with tongs or a fork.  I kept turning them every couple of minutes.  For the chicken breast strips, it took about 8-10 minutes for them to cook.  You want the crust to be a beautiful and crispy golden brown.  I always took one out from a batch and cut it in half to make sure it was done inside.

Place cooked chicken on a plate with 2-3 layers of paper towels to drain the grease.


Macaroni and Cheese

This is the recipe I used for the macaroni and cheese.  I only made a few changes.  First, I halved the recipe to just feed Hubby and myself (and we have plenty of leftovers).  I used a bag of finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 1/2 a box of macaroni noodles, and I used crushed corn flakes for the topping instead of butter and panko bread crumbs.

In her recipe, she doesn't say how long or how hot to cook your cheese sauce on the stove; I heated it until it was almost bubbling (those little bubbles start to come up the sides).

Another note:  When I halved the recipe, it made too much cheese sauce for the amount of pasta I cooked, so I only poured the cheese sauce in the casserole dish until it covered the pasta and threw the rest out.

I had never made mac and cheese from scratch before, either, so I was pleased that it was so delicious!

Green Beans

When I cook canned green beans, I pour a can into a pot, add a piece of bacon (I am lazy and use the pre-cooked microwave bacon), a little onion, and some salt and pepper.  I heat it until boiling, then cover and drop the temperature to low until everything else is finished.  Easy and delicious!

I was so proud of this meal, and really pleased that it actually was not only edible, but delicious! 

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