Fried Chicken with Biscuits & Tomato Gravy

Like my last post, this special and indulgent feast was also included in Food and Wine Magazine’s “40 Best-Ever Recipes” issue celebrating the 40th anniversary of their publication. I made it for the second year in a row to celebrate my husband’s birthday! 🙂

The recipes were adapted from The Gift of Southern Cooking by Scott Peacock, the then chef at Watershed in Decatur, Georgia, and co-author Edna Lewis, the legendary Southern cook, his mentor and close friend. I modified the cooking techniques and substituted sunflower oil for lard. Last year, I made Lewis’ wonderful biscuits from this full menu, but, this year I served the chicken and gravy with sourdough biscuits.

The chicken is double-brined, first in salt water and then in buttermilk, and then fried in a cast iron skillet filled with oil (or lard), butter, and bacon fat. It was very tender and juicy. The creamy and rich gravy is reminiscent of Italian vodka sauce. Pretty delicious. 😉

We ate the chicken, gravy, and biscuits with macaroni and cheese (my favorite version), and iceberg wedge salad on the side. My husband’s birthday meal is not complete without his favorite Vanilla Bean Birthday Cheesecake for dessert. ❤

For the Fried Chicken & Tomato Gravy:

  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • One 3 1/2 to 5 pound chicken, cut into 8 to 10 pieces (I cut each chicken breast in half)
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 3/8 oz, 180.7g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons potato starch (optional) (I included it)
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound lard or solid vegetable shortening, for frying (I substituted 2 cups of sunflower oil)
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 pound sliced bacon (I used 4 thick slices)
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups drained canned diced tomatoes (from three 14-ounce cans)
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used whole milk)

To Make the Fried Chicken:

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the kosher salt in the cold water. Add the chicken pieces; cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. Drain.
  2. Put the chicken in a large bowl, add the buttermilk and turn the pieces to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. (The chicken can be refrigerated overnight at this point, if desired.)
  3. In a gallon-size zip-lock bag, combine the flour, cornstarch, potato starch, 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and shake.
  4. Set aside 1/2 cup of the flour mixture for the gravy.
  5. Lift the chicken out of the buttermilk, wipe off any excess and set the pieces on a wire rack; let dry for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, to the flour mixture in the bag; shake to coat.
  7. Dry the rack. Shake off any excess flour and return the chicken to the rack.
  8. Meanwhile, in a large cast-iron skillet, melt the lard (I used sunflower oil) and butter over medium heat. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)
  9. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 5 minutes; reserve the bacon for another use. (I crumbled the bacon over our wedge salads.)
  10. Add the chicken, in batches, and cook over moderate heat, basting and turning, until golden, crisp and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Lower the heat if necessary. (I kept the cooking oil temperature between 300 and 340 degrees. I also completed cooking the larger pieces (especially the breast pieces) in the oven at 300 degrees, until they reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees.)
  11. Set the chicken on a clean wire rack to drain.

To Make the Gravy:

  1. Transfer 1/4 cup of the chicken cooking fat to a large saucepan.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden, about 5 minutes. (I chopped the onion and garlic in a food processor.)
  3. Add the reserved 1/2 cup of seasoned flour and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the drained tomatoes and thyme and stir constantly until blended.
  5. Whisk in the cream and milk until the sauce is smooth.
  6. Season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and no floury taste remains, about 10 minutes.
To Serve:
  1. Transfer the fried chicken to a platter.
  2. Pour the tomato gravy into a gravy boat and serve with the chicken.

For the Biscuits:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons single-acting baking powder or double-acting baking powder (see Note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cold lard or vegetable shortening, cut into pieces (I used bacon fat)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

To Make the Biscuits:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°.
  2. In a bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, work in the lard just until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. Stir in the buttermilk just until moistened.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 2 or 3 times.
  6. Roll out or pat the dough 1/2 inch thick.
  7. Using a 2-inch round cutter, stamp out biscuits as close together as possible. Transfer the biscuits to a baking sheet.
  8. Pat the dough scraps together, reroll and cut out the remaining biscuits; do not overwork the dough.
  9. Pierce the top of each biscuit 3 times with a fork and brush with the butter.
  10. Bake the biscuits for 12 to 14 minutes, or until risen and golden. Serve at once.

Note: The unbaked biscuits can be frozen in a single layer, then kept frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Thaw before baking.

Chicken Tikka Masala

For years, this was the most popular recipe on Food and Wine.com. It was included in the 40th Anniversary edition of Food and Wine magazine titled “Our 40 Best-Ever Recipes.” I have tried several recipes from this wonderful collection.

This is an easy version of this classic and popular Indian dish. I especially loved it because the sauce was so amazing. The original recipe makes a note that the marinade and sauce are also delicious with shrimp, lamb, and vegetables.

The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Grace Parisi. I doubled the garlic and used slivered almonds. We ate it over brown Basmati rice with warm naan and sautéed spinach. Yum!

Yield: Serves 4

For the Marinade:

  1. In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cayenne and turmeric. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Using a sharp knife, make a few shallow slashes in each piece of chicken. Add the chicken to the marinade, turn to coat and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Preheat the broiler and position a rack about 8 inches from the heat.
  4. Remove the chicken from the marinade; scrape off as much of the marinade as possible.
  5. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and spread the pieces on a baking sheet. Broil the chicken, turning once or twice, until just cooked through and browned in spots, about 12 minutes.
  6. Transfer to a cutting board and cut it into 2-inch pieces.
  7. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil.
  8. Add the almonds and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a plate and let cool completely. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely ground.
  9. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering.
  10. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 8 minutes.
  11. Add the garam masala, chile powder and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  12. Add the tomatoes with their juices and the sugar and season with salt and pepper.
  13. Cover partially and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.
  14. Add the cream and ground almonds and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes longer.
  15. Stir in the chicken and pan drippings; simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, and serve.
Note: The Chicken Tikka Masala can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before serving.

Sheet Pan Chicken with Jammy Tomatoes & Pancetta

Full-flavored sheet pan dinners are a dream. I loved that this one was seasoned with smoked paprika- it has such a fabulous depth of flavor. The “jammy” roasted tomatoes were sweet and delicious. I served the chicken and sauce over a bed of brown Basmati rice to soak up every last drop.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I incorporated broccoli florets and increased the amount of garlic. In addition to rice, I served this dish with sautéed spinach and roasted potatoes. Wonderful.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 5)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 10 whole unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice, plus more for serving
  • 1 T sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (preferably different colors), halved
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, optional
  • 2 ounces diced pancetta or bacon
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh dill, parsley or other herbs, for serving (I used cilantro)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving, optional
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Season chicken all over with salt, and place on a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Smash all the garlic cloves with the side of a knife and peel them.
  4. Finely grate two of the garlic cloves into a small bowl. Stir in the 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, paprika, oregano, brown sugar, and cumin. Pour over chicken, tossing to coat.
  5. Add tomatoes, broccoli florets (if using) and remaining smashed, peeled garlic cloves to baking sheet, spreading them out around the chicken. Season tomatoes and broccoli lightly with salt and drizzle with a little more olive oil.
  6. Scatter pancetta on top.
  7. Roast until chicken is golden and cooked through, about 30 to 35 minutes. After 15 minutes, stir the tomatoes and pancetta, but don’t disturb the chicken.
  8. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  9. Stir the tomatoes, broccoli, and pancetta around in the pan, scraping up all the delicious browned bits from the bottom and sides, and stir in the herbs and black pepper to taste.
  10. Taste and add salt, if needed, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, if you like.
  11. Place a bed of rice on a platter, if desired. Transfer the reserved chicken to the platter.
  12. Spoon tomatoes, broccoli, garlic and pancetta over the chicken to serve.

Chicken Teriyaki

This non-traditional “Seattle-style” chicken teriyaki is a crowd-pleaser. It is sweeter than authentic Japanese chicken teriyaki. I cooked it under the broiler, but it would be fabulous grilled. We ate it over rice with roasted cauliflower and asparagus.

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic, crushed in a press
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon pineapple juice
  • 8 to 10 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • rice, for serving
  1. In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients except cornstarch and chicken. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and stir until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Discard cinnamon stick and mix in 1/2 cup water.
  2. Place chicken in a heavy-duty sealable plastic bag. Add soy sauce mixture, seal bag, and turn to coat chicken. Refrigerate for at least an hour, ideally overnight.
  3. Remove chicken and set aside.
  4. Pour mixture into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low. Mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water and add to pan. Stir until mixture begins to thicken, and gradually stir in enough water (about 1/2 cup) until sauce is the consistency of heavy cream. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Preheat a broiler or grill.
  6. Lightly brush chicken pieces on all sides with sauce, and broil or grill about 3 minutes per side.
  7. While chicken is cooking, place sauce over high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a bare simmer, adding water a bit at a time to keep mixture at a pourable consistency. (I did not have to add additional water.)
  8. To serve, slice chicken into strips, arrange on plates, and drizzle with sauce.

Spicy Chicken Katsu Sandwiches

My family would eat these delicious, crispy, katsu-style chicken sandwiches year round. They were CRAZY good.

The original recipe is meant to be a combination of a katsu sando and Nashville hot chicken. I modified the heat level for my crowd but included the original proportions in the recipe below. I actually think that my version had the perfect amount of heat. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I modified the proportions and method. I also used chipotle Cholula hot sauce, dill pickles, and potato rolls. I served it with green salad, pickles, and a combination of roasted sweet and tiny potatoes on the side. Amazing!

Yield: Serves 6

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup chopped dill pickles or bread-and-butter pickles
  • 2 T plus an additional 2 T to 4 T hot sauce, such as chipotle Cholula or Crystal
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning sauce
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 T to 3 T cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups panko
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, lightly pounded to ½” thick
  • ¼ cup (or more) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 potato rolls or 12 slices Japanese milk bread or white sandwich bread, for serving
  • shredded iceberg lettuce, for serving
  1. Combine mayonnaise, pickles, and 2 tablespoons of hot sauce in a small bowl. (I used chipotle Cholula.) Season with salt; set aside.
  2. Combine flour, cayenne, garlic powder, and 1 tsp salt in a glass pie plate or medium bowl.
  3. Whisk egg and remaining 2 T to 4 T hot sauce in another glass pie plate or medium bowl.
  4. Place 1 1/2 cups panko on a large plate. (Reserve additional 1/2 cup to use later, if needed.)
  5. Working one at a time, dip chicken into flour dredge, turning to coat. Shake off any excess.
  6. Dip into egg mixture until coated, shaking off excess.
  7. Dredge in panko, turning to coat.
  8. Transfer to a large plate or a small rimmed baking sheet.
  9. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high until shimmering. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)
  10. Working in 2 batches, cook chicken, reducing heat to medium if it’s browning too quickly, until golden and very crisp on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a wire rack.
  11. Spread reserved spicy mayo on one side (or both!) of each roll or slice of bread. Top with chicken and shredded lettuce, then close up sandwiches.

Note: The chicken (surprisingly) can be made ahead. We reheated the leftover fried chicken, one piece at a time, for 1 minute in the microwave with great results.

Duck Tacos with Refried Black Beans

I usually think of duck meat as being too fatty to agree with me. 😉 After seeing Sara Moulton make these tacos, she convinced me to give it another chance. In this dish, the fatty skin is removed and the shredded duck meat was very moist and flavorful.

I often see the vacuum-sealed, cooked rotisserie duck at Costco. On my last visit, when most the fresh poultry was out of stock and the rotisserie chicken was limited to one per visit, there was plenty of rotisserie duck available. 🙂 These tacos could also be made with rotisserie chicken, of course, but this was a nice change. My son thought that they were “next-level.”

This recipe was adapted from Sara’s Weeknight Meals, via SaraMolton.com. I doubled the original recipe to use the entire rotisserie duck and added additional toppings. The leftover filling was just as delicious reheated and served with fresh toppings and taco shells. The healthy and quick refried black beans were fabulous too.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Spice Blend:

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

For the Filling & Toppings:

  • 1 half of a cooked rotisserie duck
  • 1 T vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 3 T water
  • 12 ready-to-eat regular-size taco shells, warmed according to package directions
  • chopped or shredded iceberg lettuce or finely-shredded cabbage, for serving
  • chopped tomatoes (I used chopped grape tomatoes)m for serving
  • shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese or a Mexican cheese blend, to taste, for serving
  • prepared salsa, for serving
  • light sour cream, for serving
  • cilantro, for serving
  • diced avocado, for serving
  • canned diced chilies, for serving
  • hot sauce, for serving (I used Chipotle Cholula)
  • rice, for serving, optional
  • Refried beans, recipe below

To Make the Spice Blend:

  1. Add the ingredients to a bowl and stir well to combine.

To Make the Fillings, Toppings, & To Serve:

  1. Remove the skin from the duck meat. Shred enough meat from one half of a rotisserie cooked duck to yield 2 1/2 cups.
  2. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the shredded duck and spice blend and stir to combine.
  4. Stir in the water and cook, covered, for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Divide the filling among the taco shells.
  6. Top with the lettuce and tomatoes, and sprinkle with cheese.  Top with cilantro, avocado, diced chiles, and hot sauce, as desired. Spoon on the salsa and sour cream, if using.
  7. Serve immediately with refried beans on the side. (The refried beans can be used as an additional taco filling, if desired.)

For the Refried Beans:

  • 2 T vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (I used 1 large yellow onion when I doubled the recipe)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 cups thoroughly cooked black beans or one 15.5 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or water
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.
  4. Stir in the cumin and chili powder and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the beans and chicken stock, cover, and cook until the beans are very soft and the flavors are well blended, about 5 minutes.
  6. Use a fork or potato masher to coarsely mash the beans.
  7. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

Note: Cooked, rotisserie duck can be purchased online @Maple Leaf Farms.com.

Skillet Shepherd’s Pie

My son and I made this dish together for our St. Patrick’s Day dinner. We’ve been keeping ourselves busy while we’re stuck at home! He is a big fan of mashed potatoes, so he made the topping himself. I loved the ridged pattern on the finished crust.

Although the recipe is streamlined to be made in one skillet, it was still a little bit time-consuming. (Thankfully, we had plenty of time!) The plus side is that it can be prepared with ingredients that are readily available in your pantry and freezer. It definitely created less dishes too. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen via The Associated Press. It was originally published in their book, Cook it in Cast Iron. I used a combination of Dutch yellow baby potatoes and red potatoes instead of russet potatoes, ground turkey instead of ground beef, increased the amount of garlic, and modified the method. Great comfort food.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 pounds potatoes, Dutch yellow baby potatoes (unpeeled), red potatoes (unpeeled), or russets (peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 T unsalted butter, divided (4 T melted)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds of ground turkey or 93% lean ground beef
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  1. Cover potatoes with water in large saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon salt, bring to simmer over medium-high heat, and cook until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes for unpeeled baby potatoes or 8 to 10 minutes for peeled and cut russet potatoes.
  2. Drain potatoes and return them to saucepan. If using unpeeled baby potatoes, remove the peels at this point.
  3. Using a potato ricer, process all of the potatoes. (Alternatively the potatoes can be mashed until smooth.)
  4. In a measuring cup, whisk milk and egg together. Stir into potatoes along with 4 tablespoons of melted butter, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; cover and set aside.
  5. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes.
  6. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in skillet.
  7. Add carrots, onion, and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add ground meat and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes.
  9. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  10. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.
  11. Slowly stir in stock and Worcestershire, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps.
  12. Bring to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
  13. Off the heat, stir in peas and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  14. Adjust oven rack 5 inches from broiler element and heat broiler.
  15. Dollop the mashed potatoes over the top of the filling. Smooth topping with a knife or the back of a spoon, then use the tines of a fork to make ridges on the surface.
  16. Place the skillet in the oven and broil until topping is golden brown and crusty, 5 to 10 minutes.
  17. Let the casserole cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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