Recipes for Gracious Living
The South is famous for it's hospitality, with every front porch rocker being made for friends to sit a spell and every pan of cornbread intended for sharing. Food is a central part of southern hospitality, and a lot of it has become famous and well loved everywhere. Here are a few tastes of the South, in all it's gracious, generous living.
Perfect for front porch settin' with a friend. Take two large or four regular sized black tea bags and bring to a boil in four cups of water. Take out of microwave or off of stove and cover to steep for about an hour. Put a half cup of sugar in a half gallon pitcher and pour the tea in over it. The tea should still be warm, but stir it to dissolve the sugar completely. Chill completely and serve over a full glass of ice, or without if you prefer.
Fried chicken is so quintessentially Southern that it's practically stereotypical. And it's really not hard either! Simply take a cut up chicken or boneless skinless chicken* pieces and soak them in milk or buttermilk for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste to all-purpose flour and dredge the soaked chicken pieces through it. Heat about one inch of oil in a skillet or electric frying pan, and don't be horrified-- tradition doesn't always equate healthy. Be sure that it's very hot by dropping in a bit of the butter milk or flour. If it sizzles immediately you're good to go, but if it doesn't wait for a few more minutes. If you wish to create genuine fried chicken this is a vital step. Oil that isn't hot enough will be detrimental to the breading on the chicken, making it fall off and be soggy.
Once you have the chicken breaded and in the oil let it cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the first side is golden brown. Turn all of the pieces with a fork (using tongs will just pull breading off) and let the other side cook until golden. Turn the heat down to medium-low, clap a lid on that pan, and let that chicken sizzle away for 30-45 minutes. There are two ways to tell if it's done or not. The first is the old-fashioned way-- poke it with a fork and if the juices run clear it's ready. Or you can get all fancy and poke it with a thermometer and look for a 180 degree temperature.
Now for serving you've got options. You can take it out of the pan, pile it high on your platter and serve it all in it's crispy golden glory with mashed potatoes and gravy made of the drippings. Or you can serve it cold for a picnic or midnight snacking.
*This is only for the new-fangled Southern Girl. Your grandmother would be ashamed of this low-calorie fried chicken option. Technically boneless chicken doesn't take as long to cook either, but just remembered that good things come to those who wait.
Bless your heart, there ain't nothing like a fresh, homemade, hot biscuit with butter and honey. It might just cause you to ditch you boyfriend, the Pillsbury Dough Boy, forever. Put about 2 cups of self-rising flour* in the bowl, cut in about half a stick of butter, and then use your hands to work it all in. Make a well in the flour and pour in buttermilk and mix it up until the dough is sticky but not soggy. Sprinkle with more flour and knead the dough by hand in the bowl. Pinch of a portion of dough and roll into a ball. Put it on a greased baking sheet and gentle pat the balls down until they're about an inch thick.
Bake at 425 for about 10 minutes or until the biscuits are barely golden and flakey. The fascinating thing about biscuits is that no two person's are ever the same, even if they follow the same method. So take delight in creating something that you and only you can ever make.
*If you don't have self-rising flour, add three tsp. Baking powder and ¼ tsp. Baking soda to the biscuits. Also, White Lily brand self-rising flour makes the best biscuits.
Now listen up ya'll and get this right, because there are grits and then there are greeyuts. Down South you eat the latter, white or yellow, boiled or bohled. There should be directions on any package of grits at the supermarket, but if you live in Yankee country they might be hard to come by.
Butter is the key ingredient for serving grits. Butter with salt and pepper, butter with honey, or butter and cheese, butter and molasses, butter and cornbread. All those fancy chefs that try to add vegetables and upscale ingredients don't quite capture the essence of grits like the simplest of genuine southern cooks. So just bring on the butter and don't think twice about the calories. Amen.