Sunday, April 5, 2009

Fried Chicken with Garlic Mashed Potatoes

What cookbook, recipe card catalog or oral history doesn't include fried chicken with mashed potatoes? None that I want to have anything to do with, that's for certain.
 
Fried chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and peas
 
I'll never know who made better fried chicken, my grandmother, or my father. I do know who makes the best gravy, however. That would be Pops O. Food. The guy could whip up an exquisite sauce from pond scum and pencil shavings. At the end of days he'll have to account for his kitchen sorcery.
 
With the PGA just finishing up its southern swing as preface to the Masters, I've been missing Pops, his golf swing, and his wicked good gravy pooling onto potatoes, soaking into biscuits and spilling over plates. So I brought a little bit of home to the Bronx and my cramped kitchen.
 
Seasoned chicken quarters
 
Perfect fried chicken is all about one thing: temperature control. If you can keep the frying oil at an even 350° during the cooking process, it's pretty much gravy (a pun!) after that. I season my chicken simply with salt and pepper as many hours ahead of time as my faulty memory will afford me. Be sure to bring your chicken to room temperature before cooking and dredge in plain flour shaking off the excess just before frying. Use your heaviest skillet. Cast iron is the oldest and still the best. Place pieces skin-side down. Put the thighs and legs closest to the center of your skillet, the breasts and wings on the perimeter. Don't over-crowd the pan. Cook until golden brown on each side, 10-12 minutes per side. Drain on a cooling rack over a baking sheet. Don't drain directly onto paper towels. Arrange on a platter with garlic mashed potatoes & steamed peas, take a pretty picture and serve.
 
Everywhere you go nowadays, it's garlic mashed potatoes. I love 'em. Pops O. Food - Mr. Old School himself - is a convert. I crank mine into overdrive...
 
Preparing to roast whole garlic head
 
Roasted garlic mashed potatoes
  • 2lbs russet potatoes
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 head garlic, roasted
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 3 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
Pre-heat the oven to 400°. Trim the top off the head of the garlic revealing the individual cloves. Nest garlic head in a square of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Close the aluminum square and bake for 30 minutes. Once the garlic is roasted, squeeze the cloves into a small saucepan with the half and half and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat. Meanwhile peel and dice potatoes and put in a large stock pot with plenty of salted water (make sure the potatoes are completely covered). Bring to a boil and cook on a rolling boil until potatoes fall apart when pierced with a fork. Drain potatoes and whip with warmed garlic cream mixture, cheese and salt in a stand mixer or with an electric hand mixer in a large mixing bowl. Let stand for few minutes to thicken.
 
Pan gravy
Discard all but 4 tablespoons of the oil used to fry the chicken. Mix with 4 tablespoons of all purpose flour to make a roux. Cook until mixture just begins to brown. Slowly add 1½ cups 2% milk and 1½ cups chicken stock, whisking constantly until all the liquid is added. Bring to a low boil over medium heat stirring frequently to prevent scalding. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Let thicken slightly and transfer to a gravy boat.
 
Falanghina dei Feudi di San Gregorio 2007 labelSweet tea was the drink of choice with fried chicken at home, but I'm a big boy now! Our man in California, Whogus, got his usual 9:00AM PDT wake up call from Mt Carmel Wines on Sunday morning. It was a fine wine-sipping day and I intended to pick his brain for something suitable. He didn't pause for breath before singing the praises of the Falanghina grape from southern Italy's Campania. Mt Carmel came up lucky number 7: 2007, Falanghina dei Feudi di San Gregorio. A cheeky little number, with a certain robustness that demanded attention. Actually, "Bottom" quotes aside, it's an elegant, medium-bodied white. Lots of green apple and banana in the nose, but more citrus in the mouth with minerals in the finish. There was just enough left in the bottle to wash down the meal. Food brought out every nuance in the mouth-feel. It caused the chicken to taste sweeter, and the peas and potatoes to sing. I'm buying six more bottles.
 
 
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food
 
 

1 comment:

Matt said...

Sweet Delicious Fried Chicken. You're making me miss Pops O. Food Too!