John’s mother is here for her annual springtime visit, which means we are dashing about to restaurants, plays, shopping and the like. And even before she arrived, life was full of adventures, the last week or so.
Uppermost in my mind, of course, is bell-ringing. I have had my fourth lesson, since Arnold has decided that once a week isn’t enough to get me up to speed. So for the foreseeable future, I will be tied to Bell Number Four on Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings, pulling away at my rope.
In fact, truth be told, I am not “bell ringing” at all. I am merely “rope-pulling,” since my bell has been silenced, to protect the neighborhood from the incessant and meaningless clanging that would result from my early efforts.
I arrived and parked my beloved bike outside the bellringing chamber, stowed away my helmet in my new cool nylon basket, clipped to the front of my bike. Arnold was sweeping the inevitable pollen and leaves from the chamber floor and said, “We’ll have to be quiet today, Kristen, as there’s…
No, not this lovely salad. That’s the flank steak dish I told you about yesterday, with shredded carrots added to the second try. Avery says this: “The bean sprouts are already kind of sweet, and the beef is so savory, that I worry it overpowers the beef to add carrots, but it’s good.” I like them for the color, but you try it both ways and see. We’ve finally come to the end of the leftover flank steak. I love what Gladys Taber says about leftovers, “it’s a terrible word. ‘Remainders’ is even worse.” But if you can use things in a nice way, it’s so satisfying and budget-conscious.
No, what I’m talking about as far as diet-busting, uber-rich, super special-treat, is… Homemade Fried Chicken! Have you ever fried chicken? Neither had I, until last night. For some reason it sounded so good, and so ambitious to do, that I thought about it all afternoon and read Laurie Colwin’s recipe in Home Cooking (here adapted by Sara Moulton for the Food Network, and Bobby Flay’s online version, and then adapted both sets of instructions to my own approach. Mostly I needed help in depth of oil, timing and what to do with it when it’s cooked. Turns out, the short answers are: 2 inches, 12 minutes, lay it on paper towels. But here’s the real deal. The secret to my flavoring is a tablespoon of a new spice blend I found in the fabulous Penzeys Spice Shop in Minneapolis, led there by my talented and energetic niece Sarah.
Homemade Fried Chicken
1 chicken cut up (breast halves cut in half again)
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp each: Fox Point seasoning, paprika, garlic salt, lemon pepper
Wesson Oil to fill 2 inches deep in large, deep-sided skillet (with a lid)
Mix the spices in the flour by means of a leak-proof plastic bag (possibly the one you carried the chicken home in?).
Have a bowl ready for your milk, a big bowl for your seasoned flour, a platter for the floured pieces, and the skillet ready full of oil. Since I am notoriously bad at keeping track of heating skillets, I waited until I had finished dipping the chicken pieces to heat the oil. Probably you can pay attention to each, and if so, more power to you.
Dip each chicken piece in milk and wet every bit. Then place in seasoned flour and pack as much flour as you can on each piece, laying each one on the platter when you’ve finished. When you’re finished, dust a little more seasoned flour on the waiting layer of chicken pieces.
DON AN APRON. I’m not kidding. And place either a dishtowel or some paper towel on the floor under the front of the stove. But don’t slide on it!
Heat the oil until a piece of bread on the end of a fork fries immediately when placed in the oil. Then places as many pieces as you can of the chicken in the bubbling oil. You can crowd a bit, because the chicken pieces shrink as they cook. Cover immediately and cook for about 5 minutes, then turn each piece carefully. Continue to cover and cook, turn and cover and cook, several times, but letting at least 10 minutes elapse for the breast quarters and wings, and at least 14 minutes for the thighs and drumsticks. When they look brown and appealing, they are ready. Remove to a clean platter lined with paper towels and let rest for about 5 minutes before eating.
Ambrosia! But RICH. If you’re like our family, you don’t eat much fried food. You’ll be surprised at how little it takes to satisfy you. Then quickly wrap up any leftovers, drive to your neighbor Farmer Rollie and his wife Judy, and donate them. They will be thrilled, and it’s a good excuse to sit and gossip for a bit.
We’re off to the pool. More later…