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.

Ottolenghi’s Meatball Toad-in-the-Hole

More meatballs! This is an updated version of the classic British dish. Ottolenghi describes the key elements as “well-cooked meat, crisp pancake and velvety gravy.” He modified the popular dish by using ground pork in the meatballs. It was very hearty and rich.

The complete dish was time consuming to prepare, but the components can be made separately and ahead to save time, if desired. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yotam Ottolenghi. I modified the baking times.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Time: about 2 hours

For the Batter:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup/240 ml whole milk
  • 2/3 cup/160 ml India pale ale or another pale ale (I used Sierra Nevada)
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 3/4 cups (225 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

For the Gravy:

  • 2 T sunflower or canola oil
  • 1 T (15 g) unsalted butter
  • 2 small onions (about 12 oz (350 g) total), halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 3 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 T all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups/480 ml chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 T/100 ml India pale ale
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Meatballs:

  • 7 oz/200 g sourdough bread, crusts discarded and bread cut into 1/4-inch (1/2-centimeter) cubes
  • 3/4 cup/180 ml whole milk
  • 1 1/2 pounds/700 g ground pork
  • 4 oz/115 g pancetta, very finely chopped (I used a food processor)
  • 1/2 onion or 1 very small onion (about 3 oz/80 g), grated
  • 1/3 packed cup/20 g roughly chopped parsley
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 6 T/90 ml sunflower or canola oil
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  1. Heat the oven to 475°F/240°C, preferably on convection.
  2. Prepare the batter: Add the eggs, milk, beer and mustard to a large bowl, and whisk vigorously until foamy, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the flour and salt to a separate large bowl, making a well in the center, and pour the egg mixture into the well, in about four increments, whisking lightly each time until the flour is just incorporated. Whisk until there are no lumps and the ingredients are just combined, taking care not to overwork the batter.
  4. Set batter aside for at least 30 minutes, or while you continue with the next step.
  5. Prepare the gravy: Add the oil, butter, onions, rosemary and vinegar to a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-centimeter) baking dish (tin)(Do not use pyrex/glass). Bake, stirring a couple of times during cooking, until the onions are thoroughly collapsed and browned, about 20 minutes.
  6. Whisk together the flour, stock and beer in a bowl until smooth. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper, then pour flour mixture into the baking dish.
  7. Return gravy to the oven and bake, stirring twice throughout, until the gravy is thick and rich, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard the rosemary sprigs and keep warm.
  8. While the gravy is cooking, prepare the meatballs: Soak the bread in the milk in a small bowl and set aside until the liquid is absorbed, 10 minutes. Use your hands or a fork to break apart the bread into a lumpy mash.
  9. In a large bowl, mix together the ground pork, pancetta, onion, parsley, garlic and lemon zest with 1 teaspoon salt and a generous amount of pepper. Add the bread and use your hands to knead the mixture until it is very well mixed. Shape into 12 large meatballs.
  10. Spread 2 tablespoons oil across the bottom of a large roasting pan (tin), about 9-by-13-inches (23-by-33-centimeters) in size. (I used an enameled cast iron baking pan.)
  11. Add the meatballs and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until some of their liquid has been released. Transfer the meatballs to a baking sheet (tray) lined with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture. Pour the liquid released from the meatballs in the roasting pan directly into the gravy, and then wipe the roasting pan dry.
  12. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons oil to the meatball roasting pan and return to the oven until very hot and beginning to smoke, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  13. Working as quickly as possible, pour the batter into the pan (it should bubble around the edges) and then add the meatballs and 2 rosemary sprigs. Return to the oven immediately and bake for 15 minutes.
  14. Reduce the temperature to 400°F/210°C (don’t open the oven!) and bake for 20 to 30 minutes more, or until golden and well risen. (If you want, near the end of baking time (when the custard is set), you can sneak the gravy into the oven to rewarm during the last 5 minutes of baking.)
  15. Serve immediately, with the gravy alongside.

Mushroom Carbonara with Orecchiette

I found one additional recipe that I’ve been waiting to share from Bon Appétit’s popular recipe list. Most of these popular recipes are comfort food dishes- no surprise!

This vegetarian carbonara has wonderful rich flavor from the deeply browned mushrooms combined with shallots and garlic. Genius. The luxurious sauce is made with the traditional Italian method, using egg yolks and cheese. This recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Molly Baz. Very nice.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 lbs crimini or button mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 medium shallots
  • 1 cup parsley leaves with tender stems (about ½ bunch)
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 cups (4 oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb orecchiette
  1. Fill a large pot with water and season well with a few big pinches of salt. Bring to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, tear off and discard stems of mushrooms, then tear them into quarters (or in halves if small). Transfer to a medium bowl.
  3. Lightly smash and peel the garlic cloves, then thinly slice.
  4. Peel and finely chop the shallots.
  5. Coarsely chop the parsley.
  6. Whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, Parmesan, and freshly ground black pepper in another medium bowl; set aside.
  7. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high for a good 3 minutes. You want to get the pan very hot since adding the mushrooms is going to lower the temperature of the surface of the pan.
  8. Toss mushrooms and 4 T extra-virgin olive oil once in pan to coat in oil. Cook, tossing once every 4–5 minutes (but mostly undisturbed), until mushrooms are mostly golden brown, 13–16 minutes. This will take some time and they will let out a lot of moisture before they start to brown.
  9. Once mushrooms have been cooking for about 10 minutes, put the orecchiette into boiling salted water and set a timer 2 minutes shy of al dente according to package directions.
  10. When the mushrooms are deeply browned, reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic, shallots, and 1½ teaspoons of salt. Cook, stirring often, until aromatics are softened but not browned, 30–60 seconds.
  11. When pasta is 2 minutes shy of al dente, reserve 2 cups pasta cooking liquid, then drain pasta.
  12. Add pasta along with 1 cup pasta cooking liquid to mushroom mixture. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often to finish cooking the pasta and absorb liquid, about 2 minutes (this is why you’re cooking the pasta 2 minutes shy of al dente; it allows for the flavors to meld as the pasta finishes cooking in the sauce).
  13. Remove from heat and let cool 1 minute. (Don’t skip this step—if the pasta is too hot when you add the egg mixture, it will turn into scrambled eggs instead of a luxurious sauce.)
  14. Add 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to reserved egg mixture and whisk to combine and loosen eggs.
  15. Gradually add egg mixture to pot, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed to loosen things up, until a very creamy, luscious sauce coats all noodles.
  16. Add parsley and stir again to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning for salt.
  17. Divide pasta among bowls. Top with Parmesan and a few cranks of pepper.

Creamy Bucatini with Crispy Mushrooms

As in my last post, this wonderful dish is also part of Bon Appétit’s Most Popular Recipes of 2019. I made this and several other dishes on the list before it was compiled- apparently I was not alone! 😉

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Andy Baraghani. I added garlic and white wine. Yummy comfort food.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb mixed mushrooms (such as maitake, oyster, crimini, and/or shiitake), torn into bite-size pieces (I used 10oz quartered cremini and 8oz torn shiitake)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 lb spaghetti or 12 oz bucatini
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 oz Parmesan, finely grated (about 1/2 cup), plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot over medium-high. Cook half of mushrooms in a single layer, undisturbed, until edges are brown and starting to crisp, about 3 minutes. Give mushrooms a toss and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until all sides are brown and crisp, about 5 minutes more.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to a plate; season with salt.
  3. Repeat with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and mushrooms and more salt.
  4. Finely chop the shallots and garlic in a mini-food processor, if desired.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low and return all of the mushrooms to the pot. Add shallots and garlic; cook, stirring often, until shallots are translucent and softened, about 2 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
  7. Using tongs, transfer pasta to pot with mushrooms and add cream, white wine, and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  8. Increase heat to medium, bring to a simmer, and cook, tossing constantly, until pasta is al dente and liquid is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
  9. Remove pot from heat. Add lemon zest and juice, parsley, butter, 1/2 oz Parmesan, and lots of pepper and toss to combine.
  10. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Adjust consistency with additional pasta water, if needed.
  11. Divide pasta among bowls and top with more Parmesan and parsley, as desired.

Spicy-Sweet Sambal Pork Noodles

This tasty and quick dish is listed as one of Bon Appétit’s Most Popular Recipes of 2019. It’s a great list! 🙂 The dish is inspired by pad kee mao, known as drunken noodles.

I used fresh noodles from an Asian grocery that were the most similar to fresh ramen noodles. This dish was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I modified the proportions and method. Great.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 2.5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 lbs ground pork, divided
  • 1 2 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, cut into thin matchsticks or finely chopped
  • 10 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/2 T granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 T tomato paste
  • 2 sprigs basil, plus more for serving
  • 6 T hot chili paste (I used sambal oelek)
  • 5 T soy sauce
  • 5 T unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 lbs fresh ramen noodles or 16 to 20oz dried spaghetti
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 T unsalted butter

  1. Heat oil in a large wide heavy pot over medium-high. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  2. Add half of pork to pot, breaking apart into 6–8 large chunks with a wooden spoon. Cook, undisturbed, until well browned underneath, about 5 minutes. Turn pieces and continue to cook, turning occasionally, until pork is browned on 2–3 sides, about 5 minutes longer.
  3. Add ginger, garlic, sugar, and remaining pork to pot and cook, breaking up pork into small clumps, until meat is nearly cooked through, about 5 minutes longer.
  4. Add tomato paste and 2 basil sprigs. Cook, stirring occasionally, until paste darkens, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add chili paste, soy sauce, vinegar, and 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened and flavors have melded, 30–45 minutes.
  6. Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute short of al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. (I cooked 1 pound of noodles at a time for 1 minute each, removing the first batch with a bamboo strainer.)
  7. Add to cooked noodles to the pot with sauce along with butter and a splash of pasta cooking liquid. Simmer, tossing occasionally, until sauce begins to cling to noodles, about 1 minute. Pluck out basil sprigs.
  8. Adjust consistency with additional pasta water, as desired.
  9. Divide noodles among plates. Top with torn basil.

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