Cooked dinner for a friend's birthday and told her she could order anything. She wanted some of that Southern fried chicken I've been bragging about.
My favorite recipe comes from a wonderful collaborative cookbook written by Atlanta chef Scott Peacock and the late culinary icon Edna Lewis called "The Gift of Southern Cooking" and it involves brining the chicken, then marinating it in buttermilk and finally frying it in lard. Yes, lard. Lard that's been dosed with country ham and clarified butter.
I knew I wasn't going to find any country ham 'round here, but I did stumble onto some local tasso, a spicy cured Cajun style ham. When I went looking for lard at Fred Meyer, I couldn't find it anywhere. Not near the oil or shortening, nor back by the butter. Some manager tracked it down in the storeroom. It's off the shelves.
Hey, I know it's not good for the old ticker, or the waistline for that matter. That's why I'm going to spend some extra time on the treadmill at the gym today.
Anyway, the chicken turned out pretty darned fabulous, crispy, intensely flavorful. Not greasy. And I served it with good-for-you summer green beans and yams that I seasoned with orange juice and a little maple syrup. We had peaches and angel food cake for dessert.
I love the idea of a special home cooked birthday dinner. For me, it was always steak on the grill when I was growing up. What's on your plate when you turn a year older?