(The GENERAL Pulls Rank on the Colonel)
Few things gastronomical are better than fried chicken. Well, there were those three prime rib roasts we did a while ago, oh and the multitudes of tri tip, and the smoked ribs, and the various ducks, and the smoked Thanksgiving turkeys, and the carne asada, and the salmon, and the grilled burgers… well you get the idea. Those were all pretty dang good, maybe even the equal, but not better. Once you factor in the cream gravy, real mashed red potatoes and the wilted spinach salad, for sure not better. For certain this was the best meal of our week.
Wimping out and not wanting to venture out into the rain to start the Kamado and fulfill my Neanderthal cravings to cook over fire, the wife and I opted for cooking something indoors. Having a bunch of chicken thighs in the freezer and a variety of cast iron skillet weapons of war at the ready, we decided on doing fried chicken, which we had not done for many months.
Now I do fried chicken differently than just about all the recipes I’ve read. This is the way my momma used to make it, and like real baked mac n cheese (not that blue box stuff) chicken done this way ranks way up there on my comfort food index. I’ve heard my method is called Maryland fried chicken, but I don’t know for sure. You can call it Miners Mix Fried Chicken or Mariposa Fried Chicken or California Hillbilly Fried Chicken if you must because I don’t care. I know that I like it better than the traditional crispy chicken and it makes dang good gravy too. My chicken comes out full of flavor, all nice and juicy and gooey, not crispy like southern fried chicken.
To start, I make a breading mixture of about ¾ C of flour and ¾ C of Italian style bread crumbs. To that I add 1-2 tablespoons of Miners Mix XXX-Garlic Seasoning, 1-2 tablespoons of Original Steak and Veggie Seasoning, plus about 1 tablespoon of Wholly Chipotle. All seasonings can of course, be adjusted to suit your individual tastes. Add a little additional salt and some ground pepper to get the salt balance right, and you’re ready to dredge that chicken. Taste the breading beforehand because the flour mixture needs to be a little salty so the finished chicken is seasoned correctly.
Next, heat about half inch of canola oil in the skillet and when hot, gently place the floured chicken pieces in the skillet to brown. When brown on one side, I turn them and brown the other side.
Once all pieces are browned, I transfer them to a plate and discard the oil, leaving maybe a tablespoon or two of oil in the skillet along with all the browned bits and pieces that fell off the chicken into the oil. Place the chicken back in the skillet, turn the heat to low, cover the skillet and let the chicken simmer/steam in its own juices for the next 30-45 min or so. Sometimes, I’ll flip the chicken over midway through the cooking process, just to keep things nice and even in there. Also, occasionally, I’ll need to add a ¼ C of water if the lid doesn’t seal tightly or the chicken is really lean (breasts) and lacks enough fat.
When the chicken is all done and comes out of the skillet, it’s wonderfully brown, with a soft gooey crust from the breading and an incomparable flavor.
The chicken juices left in the skillet make fantastic gravy. There will be grease in there from the rendered chicken fat, most of which will need to be drained leaving enough to make a roux for the gravy. In this case, once the roux was made, I added milk and about ½ C of heavy cream we happened to have on-hand. One note: I never use salt in homemade mashed potatoes or gravy; I always use chicken or beef bouillon because it has more flavor than plain ol’ NaCl. Chicken bouillon in chicken gravy makes the gravy absolutely killer good.
My darling wife made the wilted spinach salad by cooking four strips of diced bacon until crisp, and draining most of the grease. To the skillet add two teaspoons brown sugar, ¼ C diced green onions, 1.4 teaspoon salt, 1.5 tablespoons vinegar and ¼ teaspoon dry mustard and bring to a simmer. Once the spinach was ready in the bowl, the mixture was poured over the fresh leaves to wilt them and then it was time to chow down.
Fortunately we have leftovers for lunches and sandwiches over the next couple of days!