Fried Chicken Thighs & Cheesy Grits

My husband’s dream Valentine’s Day dinner has to involve fried chicken. ❤ Weeks earlier, I had seen this recipe in Bon Appetit and thought it would be perfect for our celebration… The problem was that I didn’t remember where I had seen my perfect recipe. :/ I had to search far and wide to finally track it down. Thankfully, that happened in time!

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Alison Roman. I used coarse yellow grits and added additional water and milk until the desired consistency was achieved. I also used a combination of baby kale, chard and spinach for the sautéed greens. My husband didn’t want hot pepper jelly (can you believe it?) so I didn’t add it to the greens while they were cooking. I added it to my plate at the end! (Tons of it!)

We ate this dish for dinner but it would be wonderful for any meal of the day- brunch too. 🙂 Absolutely Delicious!!

AND… I almost forgot… We had my homemade version of the best-selling Momofuku Milk Bar Crack Pie as our grand finale. What a meal. 🙂

Yield: Serves 4

For the Chicken:

  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs

For the Grits:

  • coarse salt
  • 1½ cups white or yellow grits (not instant)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 ounces finely grated Parmesan
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • milk, as needed, to achieve the desired consistency

For Frying And Assembly:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, plus more
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 T unsalted butter or olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds baby kale, chard and spinach or 2 bunches kale, or Swiss chard, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T distilled white vinegar
  • 1 T hot pepper jelly, plus more for serving (I used Trader Joe’s)

Marinade the Chicken:

  1. Combine buttermilk, cayenne, garlic powder, salt, and paprika in a large bowl or large resealable plastic bag. Add chicken thighs, cover bowl or seal bag, and toss to coat. Chill at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours. (I did 12 hours.)

Make the Grits:

  1. Bring 4 cups salted water to a boil and gradually add grits, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking occasionally, until grits are very tender and creamy, 25–30 minutes. Add cream cheese and Parmesan; whisk until melted and incorporated; season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve. Add more water or milk to adjust the consistency as needed.

For Frying And Assembly:

  1. Whisk flour, cayenne, garlic powder, paprika, and 2 tsp. salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Remove chicken thighs from brine, letting excess drip off.
  3. Working in batches, dredge chicken in flour mixture, occasionally dipping your fingers in brine as you pack on flour to help create moistened, shaggy bits (the makings of a super-crisp crust); transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Fit a large cast-iron skillet with thermometer and heat oil until thermometer registers 350°.
  5. Working in batches and returning oil to 350° between batches, fry chicken thighs, turning occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and coating is deep golden brown and crisp, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet and let sit while you cook the greens.
  6. Heat butter or olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add greens in large handfuls, letting it cook down slightly before adding more and tossing to coat. Season with salt and pepper and cook, tossing occasionally, until wilted and bright green, about 2 minutes. Add vinegar and 1 Tbsp. pepper jelly and toss to coat, if desired.
  7. Divide grits evenly among bowls and top with greens, fried chicken, and more pepper jelly.

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Scallops and Polenta

I have a soft spot for quick, easy, and pretty comfort food dishes! This dish is very reminiscent of one of our household favorites- shrimp and grits. Traditionally, we make that special dish from Charleston, South Carolina at Easter-time. Maybe this version should be our fall variation! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, via The Gourmet Gourmand. We ate it with sautéed broccoli rabe and broccoli on the side. Lovely!

Yield: Serves 2

  • 1/2 cup dried polenta (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand; do NOT use instant polenta for this recipe)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly ground Parmigiano-Reggiano (I also added a little bit of shredded Gruyère)
  • 8 sea scallops, side muscle removed
  • 3 T grape seed oil
  • 1 1/2 T unsalted butter
  • 2 sprigs of fresh herbs such as oregano, parsley, and/or thyme, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

To prepare polenta:

  1. Bring water and 1/4 tsp salt to a boil. (I used an enameled cast iron pan.) While whisking, slowly add the polenta. Whisk frequently to avoid lumps. When mixture begins to spit, turn heat down to simmer (polenta should intermittently bubble and pop, but not rapidly).
  2. Continue to cook, stirring often, for about 30 minutes, until polenta is thickened and soft and pulls away slightly from the edge of the pot. Add the grated cheese and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and about 1/4 tsp of salt.

To prepare scallops and sauce:

  1. Pat your scallops dry and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. Using a regular or cast-iron skillet, bring the grape seed oil to high heat. When pan is very hot, add scallops and sear for about 3 minutes. Flip the scallops and sear on the opposite side for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until scallops are cooked to your liking. Remove scallops and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add butter to the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until butter is lightly browned and smells nice and nutty. Turn off heat. Finish sauce with lemon juice (carefully! It will bubble and spit). Quickly pour into bowl or serving vessel to stop the cooking process. (It can be strained through a fine mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter or cheesecloth, if desired.)
  4. Serve scallops over bed of polenta, with a drizzle of the brown-butter sauce and minced herbs.

Note: Cooking the scallops in oil vs. butter allows you to sear them at a higher temperature for optimal sear marks and will give you more control over creating your browned butter sauce without burning the butter.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Pesto Polenta with Fresh Tomatoes

This is a fast full-flavored dish. Healthy too! I always forget about how much I enjoy creamy polenta. 🙂 We ate it for dinner but it would also be wonderful for brunch.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Todd Porter and Diane Cu. I increased the salt, doubled the tomatoes, and made homemade pesto. The pesto recipe is from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. Tasty!

Yield: Serves 3 (in my house!) or 4

For the Pesto: (Makes about 1 cup)

  • 2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
  • coarse salt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 T pine nuts or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or pecorino Romano

For the Dish:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes (I used Campari)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup pesto

To Make the Pesto:

  1. Combine the basil with a pinch of salt, the garlic, the nuts, and about half of the oil in a food processor or blender.
  2. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary and adding the rest of the oil gradually.
  3. Add more oil if you prefer a thinner mixture. (Sometimes I add a little bit of stock instead to achieve the same result.)
  4. Stir in the cheese.

To Finish the Dish:

  1. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. (I use a cast iron pot.) While whisking, gradually pour the polenta into the water.
  2. Reduce the heat to simmer or low and continue whisking for an additional minute.
  3. Continue cooking for about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot.
  4. Remove the polenta from the heat when it is tender and creamy and has reached your desired thickness.
  5. Stir the salt and butter into the polenta until the butter is melted.
  6. Scoop polenta out onto plates. Top each with about 1/4 cup pesto. Divide tomatoes among plates. Serve. (We individually mixed together all of the ingredients before digging in!)

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Shrimp with Fresh Corn Grits

We eat Southern Shrimp and Grits every year on Easter- it reminds us of our time in the beautiful sunshine while we lived in Charleston, South Carolina. It’s such a flavorful dish that isn’t popular here in New York. This year we branched out and ate this dish on Easter Eve… such a break from tradition. :/ Still wonderful! 🙂

The fresh corn in this version puts it over the top. SO good. The grated corn in the grits makes them thicker and the sautéed kernels sprinkled over the top provide wonderful texture. This recipe is from Bon Appetit, contributed by Dawn Perry. I added more fresh corn and garlic to the topping as well as sharp cheddar-gruyere melange cheese to the grits. Festive & Amazing!

Yield: Serves 6

  • 5 (small) ears of corn, husked
  • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup grits (not instant)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (I used a sharp cheddar-gruyere blend), optional, to taste
  • 5 T olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ to 3/4 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika or ½  to 3/4 tsp. smoked paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails left intact
  • chopped fresh chives, for serving

IMG_3423

  1. Grate 3 ears of corn on the large holes of a box grater over a medium bowl, catching as much juice as possible; set aside. Cut kernels from remaining 2 ears of corn into another medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Bring broth, milk, and 1½ cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat so liquid is at a simmer and gradually whisk in grits. Simmer, whisking often, until grits are very tender, 20–25 minutes. Mix in butter, cheese (if using), and reserved grated corn; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Fifteen minutes after you have added grits to saucepan, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook garlic, oregano, and paprika, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add reserved kernels and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and beginning to pop, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add shrimp and cook, tossing occasionally, until cooked through, about 4 minutes.
  5. Serve shrimp and corn over grits topped with chives.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Shrimp & Grits with Tomatoes

IMG_8491

We have a few Easter traditions in our home… the neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt, writing a family member’s name on each Easter egg before dyeing it, following the string left by the Easter Bunny, and eating a classic Charleston dish, Shrimp and Grits, on Easter day. A newer tradition has been to attend the sunrise Easter mass at our beach- which starts at 5:30am!! We have only made it 3 or 4 times… the problem is that everyone is exhausted for the rest of the day. We will see how long that tradition lasts! 🙂 This year my kids also made bunny “peep-ka-bobs” or “shish-ka-peeps” (the name is still being worked out…) as an Easter treat. So cute & sweet! This new project is likely to become an annual tradition. 🙂

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This version of shrimp and grits has a wonderful tomato sauce served over parmesan cheese grits. I usually make cheese grits with sharp cheddar cheese and this was such a fabulous alternative. We preferred it! The cheese added just the perfect amount of salty deliciousness. This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I used Bob’s Red Mill Organic Coarse Ground Yellow Grits. Although a simple dish, the preparation usually requires a group effort because everything is done at the last minute for the best result. I suppose another one of our Easter traditions is to cook this meal together! 🙂

Yield: Serves 8

  • 4 cups milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 4 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 cups coarse ground yellow grits
  • 2 sweet onions, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juices reserved
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds large shrimp, shells removed, tails intact
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus a bit more shaved for garnish, if desired
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh herbs, such as parsley, oregano, and thyme, coarsely chopped in a food processor
  1. For the grits: Heat 4 cups water, milk, 2 tablespoons butter, and salt to a gentle boil in a medium saucepan. Sprinkle in the grits. Reduce the heat to simmer, and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is smooth, thick, and falls easily from a spoon, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare tomatoes: Add 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet. Saute onion and garlic until soft and translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in white wine, and cook until dry, 2 to 3 minutes. Add bay leaves, and stir in tomatoes and reserved juice. Season with cayenne pepper. Reduce the heat, and simmer until slightly thickened and the tomatoes have broken down, about 10 minutes.
  3. For the shrimp: Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat to sizzling. Add shrimp, season with salt and black pepper, and saute to sear on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.
  4. When grits are thickened, stir in heavy cream and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Keep covered with a tight-fitting lid until ready to serve. When tomatoes are ready, remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in the chopped herbs. Cover, and keep warm until shrimp are cooked.
  5. To serve, put a heaping spoonful of grits onto a soup plate. Top with the tomatoes, and arrange the shrimp around the plate. Garnish with freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, if desired.

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One Year Ago:

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Hominy Grill’s Shrimp and Grits

hominy grill shrimp and grits

When I first moved to Charleston, South Carolina all of my co-workers and I went out to lunch at one of Charleston’s oldest restaurants named 82 Queen. It was the first time I ate (or heard of!) Shrimp and Grits. What a great dish! I’m not sure how it started, but it is our family tradition to serve this delicious southern dish on Easter. This recipe is adapted from another restaurant in Charleston named Hominy Grill. It is my favorite version of this dish. Years ago when we served it to guests there was a comment that every bite has different layers of flavor- SO GOOD! I serve it over cheese grits.

Yield: Serves 4

For the Shrimp:

  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 T flour
  • 2 T peanut, canola or coconut oil
  • 1 1/4 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • Tabasco or Sriracha
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

For the Grits:

  • 1 cup Stone Ground Grits
  • 4 1/2 cups milk (skim okay)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • grated extra sharp white cheddar cheese, to taste
  1. Prepare grits: Boil milk, then add grits in a slow stream. Stir and cook approximately 20 minutes, until thick. Add salt, pepper, and cheese. Cover and keep warm while cooking the shrimp.
  2. Fry bacon until crisp, remove from pan and reserve; pour off all but 1 T of fat.
  3. Gently toss shrimp with flour until lightly coated; remove excess flour.
  4. Add oil to pan with bacon fat and heat over medium high heat. Add shrimp and sauté until half-cooked. Add mushroom and toss. When they begin to cook, stir in reserved bacon, add garlic but do not let brown. Then very quickly stir in the hot sauce and lemon. Cook until the shrimp are pink on both sides and mushrooms are golden brown. Season with salt, add green onions and then remove from heat.
  5. Spoon shrimp mixture over grits. Serve immediately.

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