Saturday, October 20, 2007

Oven Love

I have a fear of deep frying. I've used an electric fryer (is that what they're called?) once to make shirini panjereyi, a fried cookie, with my cousin in Tehran, but the thought of tossing chicken in one and either a) not burning it b)not burning me c)getting it cooked through or d)not setting off the smoke alarm, seems rather slim. But maybe it is just an unrationalized fear.

But, with oven-fried chicken this tasty, who needs to worry about trying to figure out how to fry it? It can't be much easier than this....well, except that it might not need the breading if you left a crispy skin on...

Dinner last night was a group effort. It started on Thursday with Mom preparing the marinade and marinating the chicken while I made the ice cream base. Friday, Mom got caught at work and Dad at the dentist with my aunt, who had already helped by washing and cutting the kale-something that would have taken me at least half an hour. Mamanzari worked on breaking up the sausage and mixing in the onions for the stewed okra, Uncle Larry did the hard part of battering the chicken and arranging it on the roasting rack, and Aunt A brought over a cast-iron pan and helped whisk the ingredients for cornbread.

As to how the meal turned out... It wasn't our first time following the chicken or the kale recipe, though Mom made the kale last time and did most of the work for the chicken from start to finish. I think Nick may have helped her. I just made the grits... which were super cheesy and salty from thinking we'd had more grits than we did and grating far too much cheese.

This time though, it turned out a lot tastier. I followed most of the recipes (doubling the chicken and okra), except used cayenne instead of Tabasco for the chicken, bacon instead of ham for the kale, and italian sausage instead of breakfast sausage for the okra.

The cornbread, which was the easiest part of the meal, was a recipe from Uncle Larry. And it requires a cast iron pan, something we don't own. (I am definitely getting one soon. Ame wants to learn how to make the cornbread, and I can't show her without a pan. It's a good excuse.) I first had this cornbread two years ago while studying for finals. The girls, my mom, my aunt, and I, were on one side of the house reading/studying while the guys, my dad and uncle, watched a football game. For dinner we had chili and cornbread with a honey butter, I think. It was awesome.
We didn't have the honey butter last night, and the cornbread was dotted with scrambled eggs, but it was nevertheless delicious sopping up the stew.

Recipes (from October/November 2006 Eating Well):
Eating Well's Oven-Fried Chicken
Southern Kale
Stewed Okra & Tomatoes

Skillet Cornbread

recipe from Uncle Larry, but it says it is from Zinfandel Restaurant
Serves 8 if nobody wants seconds

2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups stone-ground yellow cornmeal (also called polenta)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda.

Preheat oven with 8" cast-iron skillet in it to 425ºF.

Whisk eggs in a medium bowl. Whisk in buttermilk.

When oven is preheated, remove pan and add butter. Swirl the butter around. If the butter does not melt, the pan is not hot enough.
Swirl the butter to coat the bottom and sides of the pan, and whisk remaining butter into the buttermik and eggs. Whisk in cornmeal, salt, and baking soda. A few lumps are okay.

Scrape batter into the hot pan. It should start to sizzle and rise immediately.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Invert onto a plate or basket and serve it while its hot!

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