Growing up, my mom liked to make fried chicken from scratch. Always an efficient cook, she would make more than we could eat, knowing that we enjoyed the left-overs.
At night we'd have fried chicken with mashed potatoes and peas with butter. The next day when we'd go to the beach, she would pack up last night's fried chicken, throw in some biscuits with a jar of honey, a bag of carrot sticks, and a big jug of iced lemonade.
After my sister and I would get tired of splashing around in the water, we'd dry off and sit on our blankets, contentedly munching away on our fried chicken. To this day, whenever I eat fried chicken, I flash back to those days on the beach.
Now: Rosemary Fried Chicken
Later: Chicken with Farm Fresh Vegetables
NOW: Rosemary Fried Chicken
Few eating experiences are as satisfying as biting into the salty-crunchy outside and reaching the sweet, moist meat underneath. To cut down on calories I remove the skin and use the lightest flour dusting I can.
Soaking the chicken in buttermilk overnight tenderizes the meat and helps adhere the seasoned flour.
Yield 4-6 servings with left-overs (which you will need for the LATER recipe)
Time 45 minutes cooking, marinate the chicken overnight in buttermilk
2 whole chickens, washed, cut apart, skin removed if desired, wing tips, bones, and skin reserved to make chicken stock
1 quart buttermilk
5 cups flour
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 quarts safflower or canola oil
When you cut up the chicken, separate the two parts of the wing and cut the breast meat off the bone. Keep or discard the skin as you wish. The breasts can be left whole but will cook more evenly when cut into strips or tenders. The legs and thighs can be cut in half if you have a heavy chef's knife.
Toss the chicken pieces with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Put the pieces in a container, add the buttermilk, 1 tablespoon of the rosemary, stir, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
Using a wok or deep frying pan, heat the cooking oil to 325 - 350 degrees or until a piece of parsley browns immediately when dropped in the oil. Before you begin cooking, prepare your counter. Have a slotted spoon or an Asian style strainer ready. Lay two paper towels on top of a piece of brown grocery bag paper on a large plate.
Reserve 1 teaspoon of the rosemary to use just before serving.
In a brown paper bag mix together the flour, sea salt, pepper, rosemary, cayenne (optional), sugar (optional), and onions (optional). Remove one piece of chicken at a time. Shake off the excess buttermilk, drop the piece into the paper bag with the seasoned flour, close the top of the bag, and shake. Repeat with all the pieces, assembling them on a plate or cutting board.
Cook the chicken in batches. Gently drop each piece into the hot oil, making sure it doesn't touch the other pieces so each one cooks evenly.
Turn over when browned on one side. Remove when golden brown and drain on the paper towels. The pieces will cook quickly: chicken tenders (breast) 2-3 minutes; wings 7-8 minutes; thighs & legs 10-12 minutes.
Just before serving, lightly dust the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of rosemary, sea salt and pepper.
If you are making deep fried vegetables like onion rings or broccoli florets, they cook even more quickly: thick rings cook in 30 seconds, thin rings in 5-6 seconds; broccoli in 30 seconds. Soak the vegetables in the seasoned buttermilk for a few minutes, then process like the chicken pieces.
LATER: Chicken with Fresh Vegetables
Since the chicken is already cooked, all you're really doing is cooking the vegetables and reheating the chicken. As the chicken cooks in the liquid, the breading will thicken the water, creating a deeply satisfying gravy.
Yield 4-6 servings
Time 30 minutes
All the left-over fried chicken pieces
2 carrots, washed, peeled, roughly chopped
10 brown or shiitake mushrooms, washed, thinly sliced and chopped
1 large broccoli, washed, crowns removed, stems roughly chopped
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, skins removed, finely chopped
4 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
Saute in the olive oil over medium-low heat the vegetables until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Season with sea salt and pepper. Add the fried chicken and water. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Serve in bowls with a portion of chicken, vegetables, and gravy in each. Cooked rice can be put on the bottom or steamed spinach.