Sunday, January 3, 2016

Midwestern Style Fried Chicken with Honey Roasted Garlic Greens

I've been missing in action for a while--I apologize! I am now 14 weeks into pregnancy, and I was not feeling much like cooking up until a couple of weeks ago.

This mouthwateringly crispy, tangy, recipe is inspired by Amy Thielen's recipe from the Food Network show, Heartland Table. I just couldn't pass it up--this is truly yummy and actually pretty simple to make. I think the most appealing aspect for me was that it requires much less oil than a regular fried chicken. Try it out!

Honey Roasted Garlic Greens Ingredients:
-2 heads of garlic
-3 tsp. honey
-3 tsp. olive oil
-2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
-2 tbsp. slivered almonds or pine nuts
-2 lbs. greens of your choice (kale, spinach, swiss chard, or collard cut up with the thick stems removed)

Cut the tops off of the two whole heads of garlic, just exposing the tops of the cloves. Lay both top side exposed in a snug basket of aluminum foil. Drizzle over 2 tsp. honey and 2 tsp. olive oil. Seal the package and place in the oven at 350F for about 45 minutes. At this time you can get started on cooking your fried chicken.
 When finished baking, take out the packet and pour all of the juicy contents into a bowl. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic out of the cloves by pressing them out from the bottom, and discard the husks. Drizzle over the remaining honey.
When you are nearly ready to eat (when the chicken and gravy are finished), in a large pan, heat 1 tsp. oil over medium heat. Add your nuts and toast until golden. Then, stir in the greens a bunch at a time until they are all just wilted. Drizzle over the vinegar and saute for 1 minute. Lastly, combine the garlic cloves and all of the juices in the bowl. It seems like a lot of garlic, but the roasting took away all of the bite, and the honey made it creamy, smooth, and sweet. Sprinkle in salt to taste. Turn heat to low and cover until ready to serve.

Fried Chicken Ingredients:
-1 whole chicken, cut into pieces (or 2 packages of chicken legs, wings, breasts or thighs)
-1 cup buttermilk
- salt and pepper
-2 tsp. of fresh thyme or oregano (or 1 tsp. dry)
-4 cloves of garlic, smashed
-2 tsp. smoked paprika
-1.5 cups flour
-1 cup ground butter crackers (about a sleeve); you can whack these in a zip-lock bag with a rolling pin, or just toss them into the food processor
-canola or vegetable oil for frying

Combine buttermilk, 1.5 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, thyme, and garlic in a bowl with the chicken. Let marinate at room temperature for an hour, or overnight in the fridge.
When ready to fry, set a wide pan (a cast iron one is best) over medium-high heat and add 1 inch of oil. Keep your eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get too hot. Hint—if you toss a crumb into the oil and it immediately is covered in bubbles and is sizzling, it’s ready. If the oil starts to pop and crack or smoke, it is much too hot—take it off the heat for a few minutes to cool down. Also, preheat your oven to 350F and slide a cookie sheet inside.
While the oil is heating up, combine your flour, cracker crumbs, paprika, 2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper in a 9x13 pan. Dredge the chicken well in the coating, really packing it on, and set aside on a plate. You can also double-dredge if you are in the mood…then you would dip the chicken back in the remaining buttermilk mixture before dredging again.
When the oil is hot enough, carefully place the first few chicken pieces into it until the pan is comfortably filled. Flip the chicken after about 5 minutes, when the bottom is well browned. Once both sides are scrumptiously crispy, carefully take out of the oil and drain on paper towel. When all of the pieces are cooked, put them all on the pan in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, you can create a quick gravy, and work on your vegetables!

Gravy ingredients:
-2 tbsp. flour
-2 cloves of garlic, smashed
-1 bundle of fresh herbs such as oregano, thyme, or sage
-2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
-salt and pepper

Pour off all but 2 tbsp. of the oil from the pan in which you fried the chicken. If there are any burned bits, be sure to remove those, too. Add the smashed garlic and the herbs to the pan. Heat over medium until the garlic turns golden brown, then add the flour and whisk until combined and bubbling. Slowly add the chicken stock, whisking until each addition is combined. Heat until simmering and thickened. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a gravy boat.

Serve everything together!

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