It may have been all stars and stripes in NY in the wake of our departure, but it was mostly business as usual here in the garden on the 4th of July. Still, maybe it was reading blog posts about people’s days, or emails from family, but yesterday my mom and I suddenly found ourselves on fire to fry a chicken.
I make fried chicken approximately once a year, and I always use my aunt’s recipe. She knew that I loved it, so she used to make it for me every time I visited her and my uncle in Portland, OR. (That and pigs’ feet in black vinegar. Mmmmm….) When it came time for me to try and make it on my own, I turned to Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything and discovered his very clever method for frying chicken and combined it with Auntie’s recipe. This, then, is how we fry chicken at my house:
Auntie Ga’s Fried Chicken
1 chicken, butchered to your liking
2 cups milk
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder
1 teaspoon salt
flour for dredging
A big fry pan with a lid
oil for frying (my aunt used Crisco, my cousin revealed to me. Daisy from Coolcookstyle fed me rumors of chicken fried in bacon fat — oh, if only! Do what you must.)
1. At least an hour beforehand, combine the milk, garlic, five spice and salt in a big bowl and submerge the chicken in its tasty bath.
2. When you are ready to fry, get out your big fry pan and fill it 1/2 inch deep with oil. I’d like to tell you to heat it to about 300 degrees, but really, using a thermometer just illustrated how wildly the oil temperature in my pan fluctuates. Mark Bittman says that when a pinch of flour sizzles upon contact with the oil, it’s ready.
3. While the oil is heating, dredge the chicken in flour. If your five spice has been sitting around for years like mine, you may want to add a teaspoon or so to the flour, and if you like salt you might want to toss in a hefty pinch or two.
4. Now here’s where a timer comes in handy. You will need to gently lay your chicken pieces in the oil (not too many, now!) and cover the pan. Cook for 7 minutes, noting with satisfaction that all that popping is going on safely under the lid of your pan and not spraying your entire kitchen with oil. Then uncover, turn over, and cook for another 7 minutes (try not to be disappointed if the oil takes this opportunity to make up for lost time). Finally, turn once more and cook for 5 minutes.
5. Keeping the chicken in the oven (300 F) will keep it nice and hot and ensure that it is cooked well, but I had biscuits in there, so I couldn’t and the chicken was just fine.
Sour cherries are in season at the moment. Unfortunately, our grand total harvest of cherries for the year was 5 cherries. I’m not proud, so I bought 3 kilos of cherries at the market yesterday and made a cherry pie for dessert with some of them. (The rest are going into jam and into cherry liquer, which I will write about soon.) All in all, not a light meal, but a tasty one.
On a more self-sufficient and healthy note, the garden did provide a some tasty plums. I went down to the tree and I gave it a food hard shake, which elicited a hearty giggle from Kaya (who was on my back in his carrier). I hunted around for the plums and rounded up a nice big bowl of them. They’re very nice — firm and sweet-tart.