Roasted Lemon Chicken over Garlicky Greens & Rice with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

This full-flavored weeknight dish was healthy and delicious. The yogurt sauce was an essential element for my family. Any combination of greens could be used in this dish- I used the ingredients that had just arrived in my CSA box. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I incorporated sautéed collard greens, bok choy, and leeks. I served the chicken and greens over brown Basmati rice drizzled with pan juices. We also had warm naan on the side. Great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Chicken:

  • 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 7 thighs)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely grated, minced or passed through a press
  • 1 T finely chopped fresh thyme and/or oregano leaves (I used 1/2 T each) (can substitute 1 teaspoon dried thyme or oregano)
  • large pinch of red-pepper flakes
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, cut lengthwise into 8 thin wedges

For the Garlicky Greens:

  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch of collard greens, ribs removed, halved lengthwise
  • 2 baby bok choy
  • 1-2 leeks (I used 1 1/2 large leeks), sliced into 1/4-inch half moons and soaked
  • 5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • large pinch of red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 T sherry vinegar

For the Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek or other strained, thick yogurt (or substitute labneh or sour cream) (I used 2% Greek yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated seedless cucumber, such as Persian or hothouse cucumbers
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely grated, minced or passed through a press

To Serve:

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, parsley, and/or cilantro, for garnish
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving
  • warm flatbread, such as naan, for serving, optional

To Prep & Roast the Chicken:

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season generously with the salt and pepper.
  3. In a large bowl, combine 4 of the grated garlic cloves, thyme and/or oregano, red-pepper flakes, and olive oil.
  4. Add chicken and lemon wedges, and toss until well coated. (If you want to work ahead, you can refrigerate the chicken for up to 12 hours before roasting.) (I marinated the chicken in the refrigerator for 6 hours prior to cooking.)
  5. To Prep the Greens: Cut the ribbed collards into 1/4-inch ribbons. Slice ribbons in half; set aside. Cut the leafy portion of the bok choy into 1/2-inch ribbons. Rinse and dry the collards and leafy bok choy. Cut the bok choy stems into 1/8-inch pieces, cutting larger pieces in half to make relatively equal-sized pieces. Soak separately from the leafy greens to clean; rinse, dry, and set aside.
  6. Arrange chicken and lemons on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed sheet pan in a single layer.
  7. Roast until chicken is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes in a convection oven, or up to 27 to 35 minutes in a standard oven. The internal temperature should be 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
  8. After placing the chicken in the oven, cook the rice, the greens, and make the sauce. (see below)

To Cook the Garlicky Greens:

  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium to medium-high. Add the soaked and strained leeks, sliced garlic, and chopped bok choy stems. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the washed leafy greens, 1 to 2 handfuls at a time, and stir until wilted. Continue until all of the greens have been added to the pan. Cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Season with the sherry vinegar as well as salt and pepper, to taste.

To Make the Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce:

  1. Stir together yogurt, grated cucumber and clove of minced garlic in a small bowl.
  2. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.

To Serve:

  1. Layer the sautéed greens over the rice on a platter or other serving dish.
  2. Top with the roasted chicken. Squeeze roasted lemon wedges all over chicken, and sprinkle with mint/parsley/cilantro and more red-pepper flakes, if desired.
  3. Drizzle some of the accumulated pan juices over the top of everything.
  4. Serve chicken accompanied by cucumber-yogurt sauce and warm flatbread.

Sheet-Pan Chicken Thighs with Caramelized Zucchini & Basil

This healthy and delicious summer meal was quick to prepare- a great combination. The recipe caught my eye after receiving some beautiful zucchini from a neighbor. Perfect.

I was also able to use my new Japanese mortar and pestle to crack the coriander seeds. Exciting! 😉 The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, modified the roasting time and method, and served the dish over brown Basmati rice to absorb all of the wonderful pan juices.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 8 thighs)
  •  coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds), sliced into 1-inch rounds
  • 3 large or 5 medium garlic cloves, finely grated, passed through a press or minced
  • 2 tsp dried mint or oregano
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, cracked with a mortar and pestle or the flat side of a chef’s knife
  • 1/4 tsp red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice from half of a lemon, plus lemon wedges, for serving, as desired
  • 1/2 cup torn or chiffonade fresh basil leaves, for serving
  • 1 cup brown Basmati rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast with a racks positioned in the center and top third of the oven.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the rice. Bring the chicken stock to a boil and add the rice. Cover, reduce temperature to low and cook for 30 minutes or until cooked.
  3. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, and season all over with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
  4. Place zucchini on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed sheet pan, and season with a little more salt and pepper.
  5. In a small bowl, combine garlic, mint or oregano, coriander and red-pepper flakes. Whisk in oil.
  6. Add chicken to the pan with the zucchini pieces and pour garlic mixture over all, tossing until well coated.
  7. Spread chicken and zucchini in a single layer, and roast until chicken for 10 to 12 minutes. (I placed the chicken “skin side down.”)
  8. Remove pan from the oven and flip chicken over (to “skin side up”).
  9. Continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through and zucchini is browned and caramelized, about 10 to 12 minutes more, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
  10. Remove the pan from the oven and squeeze the juice from half of a lemon over the chicken and zucchini.
  11. To serve, fill a rimmed platter with the rice. Top with the chicken and zucchini followed by a drizzle of pan juices over the top.
  12. Garnish with basil and serve with more lemon wedges and red-pepper flakes on the side, as desired.

Chicken & Corn Stir-Fry

I have a couple more dishes featuring sweet summer corn to share. This quick stir-fry was perfect to serve after a busy day outside. After prepping the ingredients in advance, it was fully prepared in the time that it took for the rice to cook.

This recipe was (slightly) adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. The original recipe notes that peppers, peas, mushrooms, or summer squash could be substituted for the fresh corn. Great!

Yield: Serves 4

  • 3 T oyster sauce
  • 1 T unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 4 to 5 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 lb), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 4 T vegetable oil, divided (I used canola oil)
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped (about 1 T)
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper (or other mild chile flakes or paprika), or more, to taste
  • 3 ears of corn, kernels cut from cobs
  • cooked rice (I used white Basmati rice)
  • cilantro leaves with tender stems, for serving
  1. Stir together oyster sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Trim the chicken and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Prep the red onion, garlic, ginger and corn. Set aside.
  4. Cook the rice using your preferred method.
  5. While the rice is cooking, season the chicken pieces with salt and sprinkle with cornstarch; toss lightly to coat.
  6. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large well-seasoned wok or nonstick skillet over medium-high. (I used a 14-inch stainless steel skillet.)
  7. Cook chicken, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and nearly cooked through, 6–8 minutes.
  8. Add red onion, garlic, ginger, Aleppo-style pepper, and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Cook, tossing, until vegetables are softened, about 2 minutes.
  9. Add corn kernels and cook, tossing often, until tender, about 3 minutes.
  10. Stir in reserved oyster sauce mixture and cook, tossing often, until reduced nearly to a glaze, about 2 minutes.
  11. Taste and season with salt if needed.
  12. Serve stir-fry with rice, topped with cilantro.

Weeknight Chicken Shawarma with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

Even though I have a tried and true recipe for this family favorite, I couldn’t resist trying another version- especially a Milk Street version. 🙂 It did not disappoint! It was more flavor-packed and spicy than the recipe I’ve used in the past. This shortcut version uses the broiler to cook the chicken and does not require advance preparation or marinating time. Great.

This recipe was adapted from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Magazine, contributed by Rose Hattabaugh. I used the suggested amount of hot paprika but would only use half next time. (It was spicier than I had anticipated!) The delicious yogurt-tahini sauce offset the spiciness nicely. Serving the chicken with rice and warm naan also balanced the meal.

For the Spice Mix:

  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 T ground coriander
  • 2 tsp hot paprika (or 1 tsp hot paprika with 1 tsp sweet paprika)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the Chicken:

  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 T tahini
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 5 large)
  • 1 medium-large red onion

For the Yogurt-Tahini Sauce:

  • 1 tsp Spice Mix (reserved from above)
  • 8 oz (1 cup) plain whole-milk yogurt (I used Greek whole milk yogurt)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T tahini
  • grated lemon zest from 1 lemon (about 1 tsp)
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 T chopped fresh mint
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Serve:

  • chopped mint, for garnish
  • warm flatbread such as naan or pita, optional
  • rice or rice pilaf (I served the chicken over brown Basmati rice)
  • chopped cucumbers (seeded, if desired)
  • chopped tomatoes
  • lemon wedges, optional

To Make the Spice Mix:

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons black pepper.
  2. Measure 1 teaspoon of the mix into a medium bowl; set aside. This will be used in the Tahini-Yogurt Sauce.

To Prepare the Chicken:

  1. Trim the chicken thighs and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Cut each thigh crosswise into thirds (or fourths if large).
  3. Cut the red onion in half. Slice 1/2-inch thick. (I cut the onion into 12 slices.)
  4. Into the remaining spice mix, whisk the olive oil, 1 T tahini, and 2 T lemon juice.
  5. Add the chicken and onion pieces to the spiced olive oil mixture. Mix until coated evenly. Set aside.
  6. Preheat the broiler with a rack about 6 inches from the heating element. (I set my oven to Broil+Max @500 degrees.)
  7. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Lightly coat with cooking oil spray. While the broiler preheats, make the yogurt sauce.

To Make the Yogurt-Tahini Sauce:

  1. To the reserved teaspoon of spice mix, add the yogurt, 1 T olive oil, 2 T tahini, lemon zest, 1 T lemon juice, and 2 T fresh mint.
  2. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir and set aside.

To Cook the Chicken & To Serve:

  1. Transfer the chicken-onion mixture, along with the marinade, to the prepared baking sheet. Distribute in an even layer.
  2. Broil until the chicken is lightly charred on both sides, 18 to 20 minutes, flipping the pieces once about halfway through. (I also rotated the pan halfway through.)
  3. While the chicken is cooking, cook the rice. (I served the chicken over brown Basmati rice.) Cut the cucumbers and tomatoes.
  4. Remove the chicken from the oven.
  5. Place the rice in an even layer in a shallow serving dish. Top with chicken and onions; drizzle with pan drippings. Sprinkle with chopped mint.
  6. Serve with lemon wedges, warm flatbread, chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, and yogurt-tahini sauce.

Grilled Za’atar Chicken Thighs & Tomatoes with Garlic Yogurt Sauce

My husband made this full-flavored grilled chicken for my birthday dinner. One of our favorite grilled chicken marinades is yogurt-based. It truly results in the most juicy and flavorful meat. Because yogurt is more gentle than vinegar or lemon juice used in other marinades, the marinating time can be extended without altering the texture of the meat. Making the marinade a day in advance is perfect when activities are planned for the day of the meal and there is little time to spend in the kitchen.

Much of my birthday celebration was focused on food- no surprise. 🙂 My first surprise was a very special breakfast pastry delivery from Dominique Ansel in NYC. (I am a huge fan!) So beautiful, I had to take a few photos.

If that wasn’t enough, we enjoyed the beautiful weather by going out to lunch at a favorite outdoor spot. Lovely.

We ate this grilled chicken over rice for dinner. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. The original recipe suggests serving it with pita and cucumber-tomato salad. I loved it with grilled tomatoes. We also had warm naan on the side.

My daughter and I made Strawberry Crumb Cake for our celebratory dessert. We ate it warm with vanilla ice cream. ❤

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 6 garlic cloves, finely grated, pressed, or minced
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more sprigs for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the tomatoes and for serving
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons za’atar, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or marjoram, plus more sprigs for garnish
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 8)
  • 8 to 10 Campari tomatoes
  • pita, rice, or naan, for serving, as desired
  1. In a large bowl or container, stir together 5 of the grated garlic cloves, half the lemon zest, 1/3 cup yogurt, the cilantro, oil, za’atar, oregano or marjoram, salt and black pepper. Add chicken and toss until well coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  2. When ready to cook, light the grill to medium (or heat your broiler with the rack 3 inches from the heat source).
  3. Remove chicken from bowl, shaking off any excess marinade, and grill or broil on one side until charred in spots, 5 to 8 minutes. Flip the chicken and grill or broil for another 5 to 8 minutes, until just cooked through. Using an instant-read thermometer, the meat should have an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  4. Brush the Campari tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Thread onto skewers. Grill until heated through, slightly charred, and soft.
  5. While the chicken and tomatoes are cooking, place remaining 2/3 cup yogurt in a small bowl. Stir in the reserve grated garlic clove and lemon zest, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Cut one zested lemon in half and set aside for serving (save the other zested lemon for another use).
  7. To serve, place chicken on a serving platter and drizzle with olive oil and a large squeeze of the zested lemon. (We served it over Basmati rice and drizzled it with the juices accumulated after removing the chicken from the grill.)
  8. Top with cilantro and oregano or marjoram sprigs and serve with yogurt sauce.

Kuku Paka (Chicken & Coconut Curry)

I was happy that the weather cooled down a little bit so that I could sneak this dinner into our springtime menu. The sauce was beyond creamy and delicious. Typically, this dish is prepared with charcoal-grilled chicken; I loved that this recipe was adapted to make using the broiler instead- perfect in cooler weather.

This recipe was adapted from Let’s Eat by Zaynab Issa, via Bon Appétit. It is a wonderful version of this popular East African-Indian chicken curry. It gave my son, who is studying World History in high school, a moment to review the impact and influences of the Indian Ocean trade routes prior to 1450 with our family. 😉 In Swahili, the trade language formed across the Indian Ocean, Kuku means chicken and Paka means to smear, to spread, or to apply.

The original recipe recommends using boneless thighs but notes that any cut of chicken, or a mix of breasts, tenders, or drumsticks (with pieces of similar size), could be substituted. A mix of vegetables can also be used in lieu of chicken to create a vegetarian version. I served it over rice with steamed spinach. Fast and fabulous.

Yield: 4 to 6 Servings

  • 3 to 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 lemons, divided (one for marinade & one for serving)
  • 1 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more (or 2 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika or Kashmiri chile powder
  • one pinch or dash of cayenne pepper (omit if using Kashmiri chile powder)
  • 2–3 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 8 to 10 large)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 plum tomato
  • 1 medium jalapeño or 1–2 green Thai chiles, seeded and ribbed
  • 1/4 cup (packed) cilantro leaves with tender stems, plus more for serving
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 can (13.5 oz) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) heavy cream (can substitute nondairy milk or additional coconut milk)
  • Basmati rice and/or crusty bread, for serving
  1. Finely grate the garlic cloves into a large bowl with a Microplane; alternatively, a garlic press can be used.
  2. Cut 1 lemon in half and squeeze juice into the bowl; discard seeds.
  3. Mix in 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt (or 1 tsp Diamond Crystal) and the smoked paprika and cayenne pepper (or Kashmiri Chile powder).
  4. Add the skinless, boneless chicken thighs (I used 10) and toss to evenly coat.
  5. Cover bowl and let sit at room temperature 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the curry base.
  6. Coarsely chop the onion, tomato, chile(s) (depending on how spicy your chiles are and your heat tolerance), and cilantro. Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend or process until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
  7. Place an oven rack in the highest position. Heat the broiler. (I set my oven to Broiler+Max at 500 degrees.)
  8. Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a high-sided skillet or large pot over medium. (I used a large, low, and wide enameled cast iron pan.)
  9. Add ground coriander, ground cumin, and ground turmeric. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  10. Pour in purée and add 3/4 tsp Morton kosher salt (or 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal). Stir to combine and cook, stirring occasionally, until raw onion smell subsides and curry is paste-like in consistency, 15–20 minutes.
  11. Arrange chicken on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet and broil until cooked through, charred in spots, and a thermometer inserted into the thickest parts registers 165°, 14 to 20 minutes. (I placed the chicken “skin side down” for 7 minutes, flipped each piece over and cooked an additional 7 minutes.)
  12. While the chicken is cooking, shake the can unsweetened coconut milk to ensure coconut cream is incorporated, then add coconut milk to curry and stir well to combine. Curry should be pale yellow. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until warm and slightly thickened, 5–10 minutes.
  13. Once chicken is finished, add chicken and all of the pan juices to the curry and reduce heat to low; mix well to combine. Stirring constantly to prevent curry from breaking, dribble in the heavy cream.
  14. Taste and season with more salt, if needed.
  15. Serve the chicken and sauce over Basmati rice garnished with additional cilantro.
  16. Cut remaining 1 lemon into wedges. Serve kuku paka with crusty bread and lemon wedges for squeezing over at the table, as desired.

Fried Chicken Biscuits with Cornmeal & Sage

My entire family looks forward to my husband’s birthday feast. It typically involves a lot of comfort food like fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. 🙂 We always have his favorite Vanilla Bean Cheesecake as our celebratory dessert.

When my food blog friend Jess@Cooking is My Sport posted Cornmeal Sage Chicken Biscuits, I knew that my husband would absolutely love them. My first thought was to serve them on Valentine’s Day but then I realized that they would be perfect for his birthday dinner. Jess is an amazing cook and baker but most of all I must say that she is a complete master of biscuits. I learned many new techniques from her post in order to make biscuits thick enough to create a sandwich. Flaky and amazing! I also loved that she incorporated cornmeal in both the biscuits and the seasoned flour that is used to coat the fried chicken. This recipe also made all of us fans of Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute.

I served these fried chicken biscuits with classic macaroni and cheese and green salad dressed with Icebox Buttermilk Dressing. The chicken biscuit recipe was adapted from CookingisMySport.com. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, modified the proportions, cut the biscuits into squares, and omitted the topping. My daughter declared it was the best birthday feast ever. 🙂

Yield: Serves 12 to 14

For the Cornmeal & Sage Biscuits:

Yield: approximately 14 2-inch biscuits

  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 T baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground sage
  • 1 T savory spice mix (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk, plus more if necessary

For the Fried Chicken Thighs:

Yield: about 16 to 18 pieces

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 heaping tsp savory spice mix (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 8 to 9 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds), trimmed, halved crosswise, patted dry
  • 8 cups vegetable oil
  • hot sauce, for serving, optional (we used Chipotle Cholula)
  • bread and butter pickles, for serving, optional

To Make the Cornmeal & Sage Biscuits:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, coarse salt, baking powder, sugar, ground sage and the seasoning mix.
  2. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients; stir with a fork.
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; add the sour cream. Using a fork, incorporated it into the dry ingredients until it forms thick clumps.
  4. Make another well in the center of the dry ingredients; add the buttermilk. Use a large fork and a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add the additional buttermilk, just until it forms a shaggy dough. (I added 1 3/4 cups of buttermilk.)
  5. Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board, or a clean, smooth countertop with flour. (I used a silpat baking mat.)
  6. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)
  7. Use a bench scraper (or a large sharp knife) to divide the dough in half. Roughly shape each half into a square.
  8. Stack one of the halves on top of the other and use a rolling pin to roll it together into one mass. Repeat this process 4-5 more times before patting it into one final rectangle. (This is a process of layering so that the biscuits will bake flaky.) (I formed a 9×7-inch rectangle, about 2-inches thick.)
  9. Tightly wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
  10. Preheat oven to 425°. (I set my oven to convection.) Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.
  11. Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the biscuit dough out onto it.
  12. Using a bench scraper (or very sharp knife), trim the edges of the rectangle. (I trimmed it to form a 6×8-inch rectangle.)
  13. Using a biscuit cutter or a knife, cut the dough into rounds or squares about 2″ each. You can recut the leftover dough into new biscuits, just try not to handle it too much. (I cut my dough into 12 2-inch squares and reformed the trimmed edges into 2 additional 2-inch squares.)
  14. Place the cut biscuits on the parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheet, placing them close to each other (it will help them rise higher).
  15. Place the tray into the freezer for about 15 minutes.
  16. Spray the top of the biscuits with cooking spray.
  17. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 22 minutes, covering them with foil if they brown too quickly. (I baked mine for 22 minutes total, covering them with foil after 20 minutes.)

To Make the Fried Chicken Thighs:

  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper, foil, or plastic wrap on the bottom; place a wire rack on top.
  2. Line a second rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels; place a wire rack on top.
  3. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, cayenne, spice mix, salt, and black pepper in a bowl.
  4. Pour buttermilk into a separate bowl.
  5. Working with one piece at a time, toss chicken in flour mixture, dip in buttermilk, then toss again in flour mixture. Transfer to the wire rack over the wax paper/foil/plastic wrap-lined baking sheet to allow batter to set, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Repeat dipping process until all of the chicken is double-coated.
  7. Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil to 350 degrees. (I used a large stainless steel Dutch oven fitted with a thermometer. I found it much easier to control the temperature of the oil in this pot versus using a cast iron skillet as I have in the past.)
  8. Working in batches of no more than 3 or 4 pieces at a time, use tongs to place the chicken in the hot oil. Using a slotted spoon, turn it occasionally and cook until each piece is golden brown on both sides, about 2-4 minutes per side. (I tried to cook pieces similar in size at the same time.)
  9. Using a slotted spoon or clean tongs, remove chicken to the wire rack over the paper towel-lined sheet pan. At this point, use an instant read thermometer to confirm that the chicken is cooked, having an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  10. To assemble: Split a biscuit in half (it will have a natural breaking point) and assemble the sandwich with chicken topped with pickles, as desired. Serve with hot sauce to pass at the table, as desired.

Much to my husband’s displeasure, another birthday tradition is to document the many seasonal feathered visitors who arrive to celebrate with us. Like clockwork, the night heron arrived on his birthday morning while I was making pancakes. 🙂

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