Fried Chicken & Biscuits

Over the years, my husband has perfected his ultimate birthday menu. Our entire family looks forward to the annual feast. 😉 After his approval, I do try new variations of a few items on the menu- with the exception of his absolute favorite Vanilla Bean Birthday Cheesecake.

I wanted to try this recipe because it is meant to be made in advance, served at room temperature, and made to travel for a picnic. This is ideal because his birthday is usually one of the first days of the year we are able to eat outside on our back porch. We also eat leftovers for a couple of days! The leftover chicken stayed crisp and was great at room temperature but we preferred to re-heat the biscuits the following day.

The fried chicken recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Tejal Rao, inspired by Masaharu Morimoto’s katsu in the cookbook “Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking.” The biscuit recipe was adapted from Sam Sifton’s all-purpose biscuit recipe, also from The New York Times, but is lightly kneaded so it’s not too tender to form into a sandwich. I modified the method and proportions. I also omitted the hot honey butter for salted butter but included the recipe below.

We ate the chicken sandwiched by a split biscuit with or without salted butter and half sour pickle slices. The feast also included Ina Garten’s Macaroni and Cheese, Sweet Potato Spoon Bread, and green salad with Icebox Buttermilk Dressing. (and birthday cheesecake for dessert, of course) ❤

This dish would be perfect for a Memorial Day or Father’s Day celebration as well. Chicken breast meat can be substituted for the thigh meat, if desired.

Yield: Serves 10 to 12

For the Biscuits:

  • 3 cups/450 grams all-purpose flour
  • about 2 tablespoons/37 grams baking powder
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 7 T/100 grams cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups/360 milliliters whole milk

For the Fried Chicken:

  • 9 to 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in half if large (I used 9 thighs and cut the larger pieces to make 15), at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 T/170 grams all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp cayenne
  • 3 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 4 large or extra-large eggs
  • about 2 cups/200 grams panko bread crumbs, plus more if needed
  • canola or other neutral oil, for frying (I used vegetable oil)

For the (Optional) Hot Honey-Butter and To Serve:

  • 10 T/142 grams unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 T honey
  • hot sauce, a vinegary variety such as Crystal, to taste
  • sliced half sour, fridge pickles, or dill pickles, for serving
  • salted butter, at room temperature, to taste

To Prepare the Biscuits:

  1. In a bowl, use a fork to mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  2. Add butter and use a pastry blender or a fork to mash it into the flour until the mixture resembles large, lumpy crumbs.
  3. Stir in milk until a dough comes together.
  4. Flour your hands, then gently gather and knead the dough in the bowl for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it springs back slightly to the touch. (If the dough is sticky, sprinkle additional flour as needed.)
  5. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and rest dough in fridge for half hour (longer is okay!). (I prepared the chicken while the dough was resting.)
  6. Heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough to 1-inch to 1 1/2-inch thickness.
  8. Use a floured knife or round cutter to cut about 12 biscuits, about 2 1/2 inches wide.
  9. Re-roll the scraps and cut again as needed.
  10. Place biscuits on a rimmed, parchment paper lined, baking sheet and bake for 15 on convection, or up to 20 minutes in a conventional oven, or until they have puffed up and the tops are slightly golden.
  11. Let cool completely on a wired rack at room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container if not using until the next day.

To Prepare the Fried Chicken:

  1. Trim excess fat and any membranes from the meat, then lightly hammer the thickest parts of the thighs with a mallet or rolling pin. Season each side with coarse salt.
  2. Mix flour, cayenne and salt in one wide bowl. (I used a glass pie dish.)
  3. Beat eggs in a second wide bowl, or glass pie dish, and place panko in a third.
  4. Dip each chicken thigh in flour, coating it all over and patting off the excess, then in egg, allowing extra egg to drip off, then in panko, making sure each thigh is entirely coated in bread crumbs, and using your hands to press loose crumbs into any places where they look scarce.
  5. In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, pour in oil to a 2-inch depth and heat to 350 degrees F. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet and clipped on a thermometer.)
  6. Fry 2 to 3 thighs at a time, flipping them with tongs over every two minutes or so, until golden brown and crisp all over, about 8 minutes total.
  7. Transfer to a wire rack set over a paper towel-lined sheet pan and season lightly with salt. (This step is very important in order to maintain the crispy texture!)
  8. Let cool entirely at room temperature, at least 1 hour. (I baked the biscuits at this point.) The sandwiches can be assembled after cooling or transfer the rack to the fridge and leave the chicken uncovered overnight.

To Serve:

  1. When both the chicken and biscuits have cooled (or the next day), mix together soft butter, honey and hot sauce until smooth, if using. (We opted for plain salted butter.)
  2. Cut or split open the cooled biscuits, smear each cut side with honey butter or salted butter, and sandwich with a piece of chicken.
  3. Top with pickle slices, as desired.

Note: If traveling, loosely wrap each sandwich in a piece of parchment paper and pack side by side in a hard container, in a single layer, so the sandwiches aren’t crushed. Serve with additional hot sauce and pickles on the side.

Sourdough English Muffins

As a big fan of English muffins, I tried a few sourdough versions before finally finding this successful one. It was worth it!

This recipe is from Emilie Raffa’s book, Artisan Dough Made Simple, via thelemonapron.com. I may need this book. 🙂 I cooked the muffins in a large cast iron skillet but may try to expedite the process by using a griddle next time. They were equally delicious with mustard egg and cheese as with butter and jam.

Yield: 12 to 14 muffins

  • 245 grams (1 cup plus 1 tsp) milk, whole or 2%
  • 120 grams (1/2 cup) water
  • 56 grams (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 75 grams (heaped 1/2 cup) bubbly active starter
  • 24 grams (2 tbsp) granulated sugar
  • 500 grams (4 cups plus 2 tbsp) all purpose flour
  • 9 grams (1 1/2 tsp) salt
  • Cornmeal or semolina flour, for dusting

To Make the Dough:

  1. In a small saucepan, warm the milk, water and butter together over low heat, or in the microwave. Cool slightly before adding to the dough.
  2. Add the starter and sugar to a large bowl. Slowly pour in the warm milk mixture, while whisking to combine.
  3. Add the flour and salt. Mix with a fork to form a rough dough, then finish by hand to fully incorporate the flour. Cover with a damp towel and let rest 30 minutes. Meanwhile replenish your starter and store according to preference.
  4. After the dough has rested, work the mass into a semi-smooth ball, about 15-20 seconds. (I did this on a lightly floured piece of plastic wrap.)

Bulk Rise:

  1. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl.
  2. Cover the bowl with the damp towel and let rise until double is size, about 8-10 hours at 70 degrees F. (21C) (I let the dough rise for about 5 hours in a proofing oven.)
  3. Once fully risen, cover the dough in lightly oiled plastic wrap and chill in fridge overnight.

To Shape:

  1. In the morning, remove the cold dough from the fridge onto a floured surface. Let it rest 10 minutes.
  2. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper and sprinkle a generous amount of cornmeal all over them. This will prevent the dough from sticking.
  3. With floured hands, pat the dough into a rectangle or oval, about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thick.
  4. Cut rounds about 3 inches in diameter (you can use the rim of a drinking glass: use a rim that isn’t too thick) You should get 10-12 rounds. (I used a Bonne Maman jam jar.)
  5. Place them onto the cornmeal on the baking sheets. Sprinkle tops with more cornmeal.

For the Second Rise:

  1. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest till puffy, about 1 hour depending on the temperature of your kitchen. (I used a proofing oven.)

To Cook the Muffins:

  1. Warm a large cast iron or non-stick skillet (you can also use a cast iron griddle) over low to medium-low heat.
  2. Place a few rounds of dough into the pan to fit comfortably. Don’t worry, they really won’t spread.
  3. Cook on one side for about 8 to 10 minutes, checking at the halfway mark for even browning. Adjust the heat if necessary. Flip the muffins over and continue to cook for an additional 8-10 minutes. When ready, the muffins should feel lightweight and the sides should spring back when pressed gently.
  4. Transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool. Continue cooking the remaining rounds.
  5. When ready to eat, split them open using a fork piercing into the equator of each all the way around and gently prying open.

Recipe Notes:

Muffins will stay fresh 2 days, stored in an airtight container or plastic bag at room temperature.

The tip to cooking English muffins is to find balanced heat.  If the flame is too high, the outside will brown too quickly leaving the center undercooked.  If you find this has happened, finish baking the muffins in a low heat oven (about 250F) until cooked through.

You can avoid this by doing a test run with one or two muffins to begin with to help guide your stove top heat.

You can make the dough Friday morning before you leave the house for the day, put it in the fridge at the end of the day, and then bake them on Saturday morning for a great treat.

Vanilla-Sour Cream Cake with Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting

I have had my eye on a couple of easy sheet cake recipes. My indecisiveness led me to combine them. 😉 It was a successful combination! This cake was moist and delicious.

The simple vanilla cake is from Food 52, from their book Genius Desserts, contributed by Jami Curl. It was proposed to serve it topped with strawberry compote & butterscotch whipped cream. I included these original topping recipes below- just to keep my options open.

The frosting recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. It was originally from an easy sheet cake recipe with a “reverse creaming” technique. Of course, I’ll have to try this cake as well at some point. 🙂

For the Vanilla–Sour Cream Cake:

  • 3 1/3 cups (400 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 T plus 2 tsp (20 g) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 g) kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (227 g) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (105 g) canola oil
  • 1 T (18 g) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) boiling water

For the Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 T) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • sprinkles, for garnish, optional

To Make the Vanilla–Sour Cream Cake:

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F, preferably on convection. Line the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper. Spray with cooking oil spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs and sour cream with a fork, mixing until smooth. Add the oil and vanilla and use the fork to mix until they’re incorporated. The mixture will be smooth and creamy.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and continue to stir until the dry ingredients are mostly incorporated. The batter will turn very thick.
  5. Add the boiling water and stir until the batter is smooth and uniform with no traces of unmixed ingredients remaining.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth it evenly into the corners.
  7. Bake the cake for 35 (to be safe- check even earlier) to 40 minutes, until it’s golden, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely.

To Make the Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. Make icing while cake cools.
  2. Using electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add powdered sugar, sifted cocoa powder, and salt and beat again, scraping down sides of bowl, until completely smooth.
  4. Add vanilla and continue to beat until fluffy and lightened in color, another minute.
  5. Smooth icing over top of cooled cake (it should not be at all warm to the touch, or else the icing will melt).
  6. Top cake with sprinkles, if desired.
  7. Cut into pieces and serve.

Do Ahead: Cake can be baked and frosted 2 days ahead. Chill until icing is solid, then cover with plastic wrap and keep chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.

For the Alternate Cake Toppings:

For the Strawberry Compote & Butterscotch Whipped Cream:

  • 4 cups (600 grams) frozen strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cups (800 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (480 grams) heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup (72 grams) brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (12 grams) pure vanilla extract

To Make the Strawberry Compote:

  1. Combine the strawberries and vinegar in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the fruit is soft and has released some juice.
  2. Add the granulated sugar 1 cup (200 grams) at a time, stirring between additions until the sugar disappears.
  3. Increase the heat to medium and bring the fruit and sugar to a boil. Boil for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Turn off the heat and let the compote cool before using.

To Make the Butterscotch Whipped Cream:

  1. Chill a bowl and a whisk.
  2. Pour the cream into the bowl and add the brown sugar and vanilla.
  3. Whisk the cream until stiff-ish peaks form. Take care that you don’t turn it into butter by overwhipping.(You can use a mixer with the whisk attachment to whip the cream.)
  4. Use immediately.

To Serve the Vanilla Sour-Cream Cake with Compote & Whipped Cream: **Two Options:

Option 1: Spoon the Strawberry Compote over the cake. Top the compote with the Butterscotch Whipped Cream, using the back of a spoon to give it some pretty swirls.

Option 2: Use the parchment paper to lift the cooled cake out of the pan. Cut the cake into 12 equal pieces. Spoon some Strawberry Compote over each piece. Top with a generous dollop of Butterscotch Whipped Cream.

Note: The Vanilla–Sour Cream Cake will keep, tightly covered at room temperature, for several days. Once assembled with the Strawberry Compote and Butterscotch Whipped Cream, plan to enjoy this cake the day you assemble it. That said, if you cover and refrigerate it, it will not disappoint the next day or the day after that. Especially for breakfast.

Pork Chops with Lemon-Caper Sauce

After reading the printed version, I received multiple emails from The New York Times about this dish. Sam Sifton was over the moon about this recipe and the book, Toni Tipton-Martin’s Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African-American Cooking. He described the book as “excellent and invaluable” and noted that this was his favorite recipe in it. I had to try it.

I agreed with Sam Sifton. 🙂 Lemon-caper sauce is incredible! This wonderful dish was prepared very quickly and was packed with flavor. Tipton-Martin learned the sauce technique that elevates these smothered pork chops from restaurateur B. Smith.

I added additional flour to the sauce to make it more of a gravy. We used fresh bread to mop up all of the remaining sauce on our plates. I served the pork chops with sautéed spinach and roasted red and sweet potatoes on the side.

This recipe was adapted from Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African-American Cooking, via The New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton. I slightly modified the proportions.

Yield: Serves 4 to 5

  • 4 bone-in pork chops (about 8 ounces each) (I used 5 boneless pork chops)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 4 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 very small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 T drained capers
  • 2 T minced fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest, plus 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • hot sauce, optional
  1. Dry the chops with paper towels, and season aggressively with salt, pepper and the thyme.
  2. Swirl the olive oil into a large skillet, and heat over medium until the oil begins to shimmer.
  3. Add chops, and cook until well browned on each side and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chops to a plate, and cover to keep warm.
  4. Drain most of the fat from the skillet, then melt 2 tablespoons of butter in it over medium heat until sizzling.
  5. Add the shallot and garlic, and sauté until the aromatics soften, reducing the heat if necessary, about 1 minute.
  6. Sprinkle in the flour, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  7. Whisk in the wine and chicken stock, raise heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced by half, 7 to 10 minutes.
  8. Stir in the capers, parsley, lemon zest and juice and hot sauce to taste (if you’re using it)(I omitted it), and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.
  9. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter until it’s melted and the sauce looks smooth.
  10. Nestle the pork chops into the sauce, and allow them to warm up for a couple of minutes, then serve, pouring sauce over each pork chop to taste.
  11. Garnish with more fresh parsley.

S’mores Blondies

I first made this crowd-pleasing dessert for our last summer beach day and sunset before the start of school. I’ve already made them again! Insanely delicious.

The bars are not overly sweet and they have an amazing texture. I weighed the dry ingredients to ensure perfection. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Erin Jeanne McDowell. I modified the method. Fabulous!!

Yield: 24 blondies
  • nonstick cooking oil spray
  • 9 whole graham crackers (about 135 grams), or store-bought graham cracker crumbs (about 1 cup)
  • 1 ¼ cups/160 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1 packed cup/220 grams dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup/100 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces/225 grams bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped into chunks (I used 78% cacao Lindt)
  • 2 ½ cups/150 grams mini marshmallows
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, and arrange oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
  2. Coat the inside of a 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick spray and line it with parchment paper, leaving 2 inches of excess parchment on the long sides of the pan. (The excess will help you pull the blondies out later.)
  3. If using whole graham crackers, add them to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they form a fine powder. Alternately, you could put the crackers in a large resealable plastic bag and crush them using a rolling pin, then add them to the bowl. If using store-bought crumbs, add them directly to the food processor.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the crumbs, and pulse a few times to combine.
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time and mix on medium speed until well incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  7. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
  8. Turn the mixer to low and add the graham crumb mixture and mix just to combine.
  9. Add about ¾ of the chocolate to the mixer and mix to incorporate.
  10. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Use damp hands or a small offset spatula to press the dough into an even layer.
  11. Bake on the lower rack until the bars are golden at the edges and the surface has a crackly appearance, 25 minutes on convection or about 30 minutes in a standard oven.
  12. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the marshmallows evenly over the surface. Sprinkle the reserved chocolate on top of the marshmallows and return the pan to the top rack of the oven.
  13. Bake until the marshmallows have softened and are lightly toasted and the chocolate is melted and gooey, 10 to 14 minutes.
  14. Remove the pan from the oven. If any of the marshmallows have puffed up, use a toothpick or skewer to puncture them; they will deflate easily.
  15. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool, 45 minutes.
  16. Using a thin knife, slide the blade between the blondies and the pan on the short sides of the pan, then use the parchment sling to carefully remove the blondies.
  17. Let cool another 10 minutes, then slice into 24 even pieces and serve.

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