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Make Dinner Tonight: 3 Southern Comfort Food Recipes to Slow Down and Savor
Posted By Matt Moore On April 29, 2014 @ 12:35 pm In Cooking,Food & Drink,Travel & Leisure | 16 Comments
As kids, Momma would always allow my sister Ashley and I to pencil our dinner ideas into a monthly calendar. For her, such a practice created one less thing to think about – no more “what’s for dinner” questions. Ashley and I also ensured that pizza and taco night were a weekly occurrence.
But every now and then, Daddy would catch wind of a meal that didn’t suit his tastes, and that whole “plan” thing went kaput.
You see, Daddy is a meat-n-potatoes kind of guy. In other words, no frills or hard-to-pronounce dishes; he simply sought the comfort foods of his youth to ease the stress of travel and a busy work week.
On such evenings, I remember Momma spending a bit more time to make our nightly dinner – standing over the stove watching chickens fry to a golden brown in hot oil contained by a cast-iron skillet that was as old as the Great War.
Though I resented Daddy for scraping our planned pasta Mediterranean, it was typically just a few bites into Momma’s Southern comfort foods that made such resentment quickly fade – leaving plenty of room for a satisfying food coma, washed down with gulps of sweet tea.
Nowadays, it seems that I’m always in flux, cooking my wife Callie and I a dinner based on what’s in season, what I’m testing, or what’s on sale at the store. I couldn’t even commit to a weekly meal calendar, as it seems I’ve become a slave to life’s demands, manuscript deadlines, and red-eye flights.
But sometimes – I put a stop to all that nonsense. I scrap the plans. Work can wait and travel can be rearranged.
It’s in such moments that you’ll find me in my home kitchen – not whipping up a soufflé or putting together a crudité platter. Rather, I’ll be standing over that same hand-me-down skillet, frying up chicken in the tradition of my ancestors, and allowing the following dishes to remind me that dinner tonight is not just a monotonous planned activity – it’s a chance to slow down and enjoy the best of what life has to offer. So, tonight, I’d like to thank Momma for teaching me how to fry the chicken, and Daddy for teaching me how to savor the entire flavor.
There is nothing better than frying chicken in a cast-iron skillet. Down south, such a method is the only way to “properly” fry a chicken – yielding a crispy golden skin, only to give way to moist, tender chicken. My grandfather, a butcher by trade, always said that the best frying chickens were those that weighed in at around 2-3 lbs. Finding a chicken that size is easier said than done nowadays, as most whole chickens are double that size – which certainly raises some concern! So, in this instance, I suggest buying a smaller organic or free range bird – you can taste the results. You guys have been clamoring for my grandmother’s fried chicken recipe for quite a while – which this is not – I’m saving it for my new book ! Regardless, this is a damn good version that wins approval in any Southern kitchen.
I’ve always been a fan of this carb-laden concoction. In my opinion, this is the perfect accompaniment to a basket of fried chicken. Served either freshly prepared and warm (my favorite), or chilled and served cold, this is a dish that always holds up as a hearty side. To cut back on fat and calories, I like to sub out some of the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt. I promise such a substitution hardly diminishes the flavor – and besides, it makes you feel just a little bit better about having that second helping.
Sure, I’ve been known to use a canned concoction of condensed soup for green bean casserole from time-to-time, but this is not one of those moments. Instead, I skip out on that gel-like substance and create my own creamy sauce to layer with fresh green beans. Since we are already frying chicken, I toss in some onions for good measure to serve as a crispy and savory topping. The result? Oh yes – you’ll never go back to the canned stuff again!
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 new book: http://www.haveheroverfordinner.com/2013/10/new-book.html
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