Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Favorite Fried Chicken

I just taught a super-fun fried chicken class at Whole Foods. We made three very different recipes of chicken and some unforgettable tomato gravy to spoon over our crispy drumsticks. While we devoured the array of chicken, I took a poll. I was dying to find out which chicken everyone liked best. I must admit, I did have a stake in this contest - my grandmother's recipe, Miss Tom's Fried Chicken, was among the three.
I couldn't have been prouder when the hands rose towards the ceiling in favor of Miss Tom's famously good chicken.

Miss Tom’s Fried Chicken
3.5 lb. Cut-up whole chicken
1/4 cup salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour

Place chicken in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup salt and cover with cold water. Cover and soak chicken for 45 minutes.

Remove chicken from salt water; drain on paper towels.

Heat shortening in an 8-inch cast iron skillet or a large deep skillet to about 360 degrees.

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Coat each piece completely with flour and gently place chicken in hot shortening. Fry 10 to 12 minutes per side or until golden brown, about 25 minutes total.

Check the temperature of the oil occasionally. If the oil is too hot, the chicken will be too brown on the outside but not fully cooked through.

Fry chicken in batches to prevent the skillet from becoming crowded.

Drain cooked chicken on paper towels or the more traditional folded brown paper grocery bag.

Serves 4-6

Monday, April 27, 2009

Getting The Garden Ready

It’s that time again. The weather is warm, the pollen is swirling in the wind and the garden is calling for some attention. I spent the weekend planting my herbs and getting my tomatoes in the ground. Planting your own herbs is not only fun, it's smart. One package of herbs at the grocery store costs the same as one plant. Save money and grow your own.
We are growing only heirloom tomatoes this year. I can already taste the sandwiches on white bread with mayonnaise. I bought two plants called “Mortgage Lifter” that produce a tomato so large that one slice makes a sandwich. It’s looking like a delicious summer already!
Before planting, I had the soil in the garden tested by The University of Georgia’s Cooperative Extension Service. I received a graph of the nutrient levels in my soil. Thanks to the organic matter we added last year, my garden needs almost nothing. The test costs a few dollars and very simple. Remember that good soil makes a good gardener.
Click here to find your local extension service.