Archive | November, 2010

Mamaw’s Fried Chicken

5 Nov

All my Mamaw has to do to get the family together, is tell us she’s making fried chicken.  I love her chicken so much, I incorporated it into Christmas!  I’ll be sure to share those traditions in a future post.  My Mamaw does not make her chicken very often because it’s not exactly the most healthy food.  When you want to indulge, my Mamaw’s fried chicken is an absolute guilty pleasure.  Now I probably shouldn’t be messing with perfection, but as I was researching different fried chicken ingredients I noticed one common denominator.  Buttermilk.  You see marinating the chicken in buttermilk, is supposed to make the skin crispier, think KFC.  So I decided to test this theory against my Mamaw’s Family Favorite Fried Chicken.  Here we go.

Mamaw’s Fried Chicken

Servings 4 (I’m never shy about big portions)

Cooking Time: 30-45 minutes

Marinade: 30 minutes – overnight marinade, if using buttermilk

Ingredients (Commentary? Heck Yeah!)

12 Pieces of Chicken

You can do an assortment of chicken: 2 Breasts, 2 Thighs, 4 Wings, 4 Drumsticks.  You get the point, if they have a family pack at the grocery store, just make sure you get chicken with the bone-in.  Cheaper, and it holds flavor really well.

3-4 Cups of pre-made Frying (Seasoned) Flour

You can find this in the baking aisle of most grocery stores near the regular flour or spices.  The measurements don’t have to be exact, but in this case, I’d rather you have more than less.

3 Tablespoons of Salt and a dash for good measure

I really don’t like giving exact measurements because everyone’s tastes are different.

3 Tablespoons Garlic Powder

3 Tablespoons Paprika

2 Tablespoons of Black Pepper

4 Cups of Buttermilk

Only if you’d like a more flaky crispy wing, but if you don’t have it, don’t worry about it! Mamaw will be happy, she’d probably say you shouldn’t mess with the best! Ha! I love her! I’m only adding it for my own curiosity.

6 Cups of Vegetable Oil – don’t have it? Use Canola Oil instead

Time to Prep.

First make sure you clean your chicken, and pull off any feathers that may have been left.

Chicken with Buttermilk: Place all chicken into a baking dish (I use my glass brownie dish).  That way the chicken can be fully covered by the buttermilk.  Add the buttermilk, cover with plastic wrap, refridgerate and marinade for 30 minutes.  You can also let it sit overnight, but you must use it within one day.

Chicken without Buttermilk: All you have to do is clean the chicken and then follow the directions below.

I have an electric skillet, which is perfect for frying, if you have one too, set that baby to 350˚F.  You can also use a heavy frying pan, or a large saute pan about 3-4 inches deep on medium heat.  Use anything where the chicken will fit, and be covered by the frying oil.  The oil should take about 10 minutes to properly heat, but you can always check by sprinkling a little of the flour in the oil.  If it sizzles immediately then it is ready to work.  While you wait for the oil to heat you can flour the chicken.

Is that a plastic bag you put the flour on?  Why yes it is.  Flouring (putting the batter) on the chicken can be such a mess to clean up.  My Mamaw taught me this little trick, mostly for quick clean up.  Just make sure you rinse and dry the plastic bag before you use it.  Place the flour on the inside of a pre washed plastic bag, and add salt, garlic powder, paprika, and pepper. Mix.  Dredge the chicken, coating it in flour mixture, and set aside in a bowl or large plate.  Once finished you should be able to lift the handles of the plastic bag leaving the left over flour on the inside of the bag, and throw it away.  Quick and easy clean up.

When the oil is hot enough (around 350˚F), use tongs to place the chicken in the oil.  BE CAREFUL!  The oil WILL pop.  You will probably have to place the chicken in batches, but make sure you give each piece room to fry.  Cover to avoid splatter.  Let cook untouched for about 5-10 minutes, depending on the size, then turn.  The bigger the piece the more time it will need to cook.  Repeat.  You will know when the chicken is ready because it will brown, and will float on the top of the oil.  Place finished chicken on a serving tray lined with paper towels.  This will help absorb excess oil.  You can either remove the paper towels or serve as is.


Mamaw's Fried Chicken

On the left is my Mamaw’s Recipe with no added buttermilk, and on the right is fried chicken with buttermilk.  I will add more pictures soon, but used this recipe to make Honey BBQ Wings.  This is before I coated the chicken with sauce.  I can see a difference as the wings with buttermilk are flakier.  However, when it comes to taste, well, I’ll let you be the judge.  Can you tell the difference?

Honey BBQ Wings vs. Chipotle Lime Wings

5 Nov

Chicken wings, chicken wings, chicken wings, or as I say CHICKEN WAY-NGS! For the record, I only added a Y in the pronunciation of WAY-NGS because a little birdie over my shoulder, who shall remain nameless, said it “sounded” like something else.  To that I say sure, it “sounds” like Wangs, you know, like Wang, the most common Chinese surname in the world. Duh!

Anywho, let’s get back to business.  For me this post is right on time, it is football season after all.  GO SKINS! Yes, I am a proud Washington Redskins Fan. I understand not everyone is a Skins fan, but don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you.  Here’s a recipe for all sports fans, and anyone who likes a good hearty snack on game day.

Are you ready for some football, I mean, WAY-NGS?  Let me present to you, two friendly opponents, both trying their best to score a touchdown, hit it out the park, compel you to yell GOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLL! Make you do the wave, maybe even dance a little jig, you get the point.  However, let me just tell you, I made both dishes last weekend, and it appears the score is 1-1.

Honey BBQ Wings

Servings: 2-4

I’ve got a family of big guys so this would probably only feed one.

Cook Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients: (Here comes the commentary)

12 Wingettes

They usually come in a 12 pack, so you’ll only need one, I prefer wingettes because they are much easier to prep.

2 Cups of pre-made Frying (Seasoned) Flour

You can find this in the baking aisle of most grocery stores near the regular flour or spices

2 Tablespoons of Salt

3 Tablespoons Garlic Powder

3 Tablespoons Paprika

2 Tablespoons of Cayenne Pepper or Regular Black Pepper

1 tablespoon for the flour and 1 tablespoon for sauce.

2 Cups of Buttermilk

Only if you’d like a more flaky crispy wing, think KFC, but if you don’t have it, don’t worry about it!

1/2 Bottle (2-3 Cups) of your favorite wing sauce

I use a mild sauce and then spice it up with the cayenne pepper.  Remember if you are making this for the masses, not everyone likes burn your tongue, make you cry hot sauce.

1/4 Cup Honey

5 Cups of Vegetable Oil for Frying

Use the cooking instructions from my Mamaw’s Fried Chicken Recipe to fry the wings before coating them in the Honey BBQ Sauce.

Honey BBQ Sauce:

While the wings are frying, you can make the sauce, add the 2-3 cups of wing sauce to a medium and/or large bowl (enough to fit all 12 wingettes).  Add honey, and cayenne pepper, and mix.

Using tongs, place the freshly fried wings, on a serving platter or large plate.  Make sure you line the platter with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.  Don’t want to clog those arteries too much.

Once all the wings are finished, add them to the Honey BBQ Sauce and coat.  You will probably have extra sauce, but you can store it in the fridge for another recipe, or use it as a dipping sauce.  Perhaps on french fries, chicken tenders, or put the sauce on a burger.

Remove the paper towels and wipe oil from the platter and use the dish to serve your fresh Honey BBQ Wings.  Enjoy!

Chipotle Lime Chicken Wings

Servings: 2-4

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients (Perhaps there will be commentary)

12 Wingettes

1/2 Cup Lime Juice

Instead of trying to squeeze out a half cup from fresh limes, you can use pre squeezed lime juice.  You know the juice that come in the cute little plastic bottles that are in the shape of limes.

1/2 Cup of Chipotle Sauce

1/2 Packet of Chipotle Seasoning

They are in the aisle where the taco seasoning is, it makes marinating the chicken super easy.  If you can’t find the chipotle seasoning, then get a hot chili seasoning mix.

1Tablespoon of Salt

3 Tablespoons Ground Coriander (Cilantro)

This part is optional, if you don’t have it, don’t worry.

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil (For Baking)

Time to Prep.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and lightly spread olive oil or vegetable oil (about 1 Tablespoon) onto the paper.

While the oven is preheating, mix the lime juice, chipotle sauce, salt, and Chipotle seasoning packet in a bowl.  The bowl should be large enough to fit the 12 wingettes.  Before you put the wings in the sauce make sure you rinse them off in cold water, and remove any feathers not yet removed.

Remove one fourth of the sauce and set aside, you will use this later.

Place uncooked wings in the sauce, and marinade while the oven preheats to 375˚F

Once the oven is preheated, place the uncooked wings on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Should be in rows (one layer).  Give them a little space (1/2 inch) to cook. Sprinkle the wings with the ground coriander if you have it (optional).

Place wings in the oven on the middle rack and cook for 15-20 minutes, the wings should be browned.  Turn wings over and brush with the sauce that was set aside.  Cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Most of the sauce should have evaporated, if not remove from oven and discard excess juice.  Place back in the oven for another 5 minutes.  This is only if most of the sauce did not evaporate.

If you’d like to make the flavor of the wings even more intense brush the wings again with the chipotle sauce, and let rest in the now turned off oven for another 5 minutes, or until ready to serve.

Roasted Chicken in a Red Wine & Vinegar Sauce

2 Nov

If you read my first post then 1.) THANK YOU! and 2.) That post was partially inspired by my best friend aka BFF. You see we love to cook together.  Well, actually it’s more like she likes to be in the general area of where I’m cooking and then eat the meals I prepare.  If you’re reading this BFF, sorry, but you know it’s true!

My poor BFF, she really does try, but life just seems to always get in the way of her culinary journey.  She’s constantly telling me she’s always missing an ingredient and never knows what to add to her foods.  So, I gave her a list of different spices, sauces, and various basics to keep on hand, to add flavor to her dishes.  I remember her resistance to one particular item on my list, and I quote, “Red wine vinegar? What am I suppose to do with that?”  Oh, ye of little faith, you can incorporate vinegar into many dishes.  Just try it!  In fact, I was impressed, she used all of the spices I listed and had basics like onions, garlic, and potatoes stocked.  However, over time, that bottle of red wine vinegar seemed to be growing roots in her cupboard.  Even though it’s been over a year, I think that bottle is still sitting on her shelf!  Don’t worry little bottle of vinegar, you haven’t expired, you’ve still got time.   In fact, I’m dedicating this post to you, and hopefully my BFF will get the hint and finally use you.

Roasted Chicken in a Red Wine & Vinegar Sauce

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

Servings: 4

Cook Time: 1 hour – 1 hour and 15 minutes

Why does it take between 1 hour -1 hour and 15 minutes to prepare this dish?

If I could give you any advice it’s always best to read the entire recipe, before you do anything.   It’s one of the most important things you can do to prepare a dish.  Trust me, it will save you time in the long run.  However, I don’t always follow my own advice, and if you didn’t read the entire recipe for this dish and only made sure you had all of the ingredients.  Make sure you add 15 minutes to the cook time.

Ingredients: (Yes there will be commentary)

2-4 Chicken Breasts or 1 whole chicken cut into 4 pieces

For the chicken breast I prefer bone-in, tons of flavor and they are cheaper at the grocery store!

Salt and Pepper

I hate when recipes give you exact amounts, outside of baking, it should always be to taste.  Some like a little more or a little less. However, less is sometimes more so be careful, and remember you can always add salt and pepper at the table.

2 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil

If you do not have vegetable oil then olive oil will work too.

3-4 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter

If you only have regular butter that’s ok, just go lighter on the salt.

¼ cup garlic, finely chopped (About 5 Cloves)

2-3 medium-sized shallots

1 medium carrot (If you have baby carrots lying around use about 5 of those)

4 fresh thyme sprigs

2  fresh bay leaves

Substitute 4 dry leaves, if you do not have fresh leaves, and if you do not have either, add more thyme to the recipe.

1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste

1 cup dry red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon)

½ cup red-wine vinegar

¼ cup sugar

My Mamaw always said there’s nothing wrong with a little extra suga (sugar), so if it is too bitter for your liking then add a little more, you can always even it out with a bit more red wine.

1 cup chicken broth (I prefer lower sodium)

Time to Prep.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and make sure the oven rack is positioned in the middle slot.

After rinsing the chicken off in cold water, dry, and coat with 1-2 tablespoons of oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Heat oil and 1-2 tablespoons of butter, into a large skillet over medium to high heat and brown the chicken.  It will usually take about 10 minutes to brown each side, (done in two batches).  Transfer chicken to a roasting pan, and roast uncovered in the oven for about 15-20 minutes.


While the chicken is roasting, start making the sauce.  Leave the fat/liquid from the chicken in the skillet and add the garlic, carrots, shallots, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves and cook over medium heat.  Stir frequently and scrape pan if necessary.  When the vegetables are translucent/brown, add tomato paste and stir for about a minute.  Add wine, vinegar and sugar.  Again if it is too tart for your liking then add a little more sugar.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil.  The sauce should reduce to half, which takes between 5-10 minutes.

You’re almost done!

Add the chicken broth to sauce and any juices from the roasting pan and boil.  Pour sauce through a mesh strainer and pour liquid over chicken (still in the roasting pan).  Try to get as much liquid out of the solids as possible, and discard.  Roast the chicken uncovered until cooked through, for another 15-20 minutes.

Once the chicken is cooked thoroughly, remove sauce from the roasting pan and place chicken in an oven proof serving dish.  Then place the chicken into the now turned off oven.

While the chicken is keeping warm in the oven, boil the sauce you removed from the pan, over high heat until reduced to about 1-2 cups.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of butter and pour sauce over chicken.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

This dish goes great with rice, or sautéed vegetable (as shown in the picture), but the true star of this show is the wine sauce, which I love because it is sweet and tangy.  It’s so easy to make and you can definitely wow a crowd with this one.  Enjoy!

Why One Big Mix?

1 Nov

If I had to describe myself then that’s exactly what I’d say.  I am one big mix, although some might say one big mess.  I can laugh at this because yes my closet can be a little chaotic, my hair a bit untidy, I never settle, and my resume is filled with random jobs.  However, the chaos always seems to end when I enter my kitchen.  Cooking is the one thing I’ve never frayed from and food has always been at the center of my life.  It is the one thing that I can talk for hours about, stay up all night preparing and continues to inspire me.

I grew up and still live in Northern Virginia, which is a nice fusion of city, suburban, and thanks to my Mamaw, that’s Grandma for all you city folk, country living.  Having an American Mother and immigrant Father gave me opportunities to experience the most wonderful mixture of food and culture.  I was raised on good ol’ southern cooking as well as spicy Latin American cuisine.  Have you ever had potato salad with frijoles fritos (refried beans)?

I love to make comfort food, because isn’t that what memories are made of?  Cooking brings back memories of my parents, my friends, and my childhood.  It takes me to places I’ve never been, it’s a wonderful icebreaker, a good way to get to know people, and it’s just outright fun!  Meals are like moments in time, capturing events that give small glimpses into beautiful stories.  I’ve always been interested in the stories behind a great dish.  Listening to my Mother and Mamaw talk about how they came up with recipes, has made me realize that the best meals are simple, inexpensive, and don’t require a lot of ingredients.  One of my Mamaw’s favorite sayings is, “You can always make something out of nothing.”  Ain’t that the truth? Yet, when it comes to cooking people make it seem so difficult.

My Mamaw’s saying has slowly become my cooking mantra, and I think the reason why I created my blog.  I don’t know how many times I’ve been at a friend’s house and they tell me let’s go out, I have nothing to eat.  In fact, I too have fallen victim to this I have nothing to eat syndrome.  Well enough is enough, time to roll up our sleeves and actually start cooking the foods we buy.  Time to use  that bottle of red wine vinegar that you used for one recipe and never thought of anything else to make it with.  Hmm, red wine vinegar?  I could do something with that. There I go again, always thinking of different food combination’s and what I could make out of them.  I guess that’s why I really am one big mix.