"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Claritha's Fried Chicken and Collard Greens with Red Onions and Bacon

Do you want to know how much I love my book group? So much that I took the day off from work to make them fried chicken and collard greens while we were discussing Toni Morrison's book Beloved.

Why, you may be asking yourself, does one need to take the day off to make fried chicken? All I can say to that is: Ha--you've obviously never made fried chicken before.

The estimated time for Claritha's Fried Chicken is 10 1/2 hours, and that's just about right. True, the first 7 hours or so don't require your constant attention. But the cooking of fried chicken always takes much longer than you think, and for me I knew it would be extra laborious because I doubled the recipe. If you are organizationally challenged you will want to take the chicken out of the fridge two hours earlier than you think you need to. I live and die by the clock when I'm cooking and I pulled my last batch out of the grease 30 seconds before I dashed out the door.

But oh lord is this chicken worth it. Wow, is it good! If you're not going to Epicurious to check out the link I'll tell you that you coat the chicken in kosher salt and let it sit for an hour, then rinse it well and put it in a bowl full of buttermilk and sliced onions. That's your marinade. Your flour coating is seasoned generously with cayenne, black pepper and salt (note: the recipe on Epicurious doesn't mention salt in the coating, but in the book it calls for 1 1/2 tsp.)

The other thing that makes it divine is frying it with two parts crisco and 1 part unsalted butter. Luscious.

I have a gripe with the cooking directions, which ask you to turn the heat to low once you put in the chicken, cover the skillet, and cook for 10 minutes--then flip, cover and cook for another ten. Maybe Claritha didn't have a properly fitting lid, but mine is air tight and I ended up with soggy blond chicken my first few batches. I finally decided to turn up the heat a little bit and use a spatter guard instead of a lid and that worked just fine although I had to re-fry those first 6-8 pieces.

The collard greens, I was thinking, are a simple matter, and around 5:30 (I had to leave at 6:40) I glanced at the recipe for timing purposes. Two hours!!!!! Time to re-think the recipe.

In truth, you can make this dish in 35 minutes if you don't HAVE to have collard greens that are one step away from mush. I condensed this recipe by throwing in the onions and bacon together, and keeping them in the pot when I threw in the collards. I didn't use quite as much chicken stock, and I didn't use the brown sugar because I used maple flavored bacon (please note--I do not approve of flavored bacons but this was in the freezer--Don bought it for a brunch we put on). And the collard greens were fine, yummy in fact.

Book groupies, I don't make food like this for just anybody. I hope you appreciate how special you are!

1 comment:

Eve said...

That fried chicken was SO GOOD. Seriously yummy. I ate quite a bit - 4 pieces? I wish it didn't take so long to make, cause I really want some more. If you ever make it for my grandparents (and you should, they'd love it) let me know and I'll come over to eat all the leftovers.