For the past 15 years, I have shared New York City with my sister, Heather. Heather opened her Hell’s Kitchen loft to Michael and me when we returned from our European adventure poor and homeless. Together we lived on the edge of this island in a commercial building shared with a man who made food carts and the commissary that prepared food for those carts. It is a unique life, waking to the sound of men chopping chickens up for a Jamaican truck! Eventually life led Michael and me (and then Adelaide!) to Battery Park City via Williamsburg and she to Red Hook via Park Slope. Now she, and her husband Ethan, have bought a house and this week, moved to the C O U N T R Y !
Thursday I invited her over to share in my first venture into frying chicken. Yes, I have fried chicken before; nice, flat, boneless chicken cutlets for parmesan or schnitzel but deep fried chicken on the bone? Never. I have my great grandmother’s cast iron dutch oven that begs to be fried in, but the idea of all that grease, the spattering, the smell, the mess? I had yet to be brave enough. But Martha put it in front of me in her June issue, like a gauntlet thrown, and I decided the time was now.
Martha’s instructions are a bit time consuming but in a multi-step sort of way. You brine the chicken overnight in iced salt water and them marinate it in spiced buttermilk for another night all before frying day. I marinated mine overnight and then switched it to the buttermilk bath the morning of cooking night, eight hours is eight hours whether the sun is up or down, right? The night of cooking you simply dredge your chicken straight out of the buttermilk into your mixture of flour and cornmeal and into the fat it goes! I floured my pieces and let them sit while the grease came up to temperature, I believe this helps the coating stick to the chicken while frying.
The recipe instructions said to fry the larger pieces for 10 minutes and the smaller for 6-7, mine must have been larger than their large as they needed a bit more time. An instant read thermometer is an absolute must since there is no way to tell what is done by looking or touching. To deal with the spattering grease, I bought myself a splatter guard which seemed to help with both the spattering and the residual fried chicken smell that I remembered from Sunday suppers past.
The finished golden nuggets were sprinkled with sea salt and eaten with our fingers along with garlicky sauteed swiss chard and a roasted red pepper and feta caprese salad. The few pieces that were left were later eaten straight from the fridge and one is destined for a chopped salad for Adelaide’s lunch tomorrow.
A new experience an old pot, a new house, and old friendship. I will miss having Heather across the river, they said goodbye to Brooklyn on Saturday, and drove themselves, their two dogs one cat and two goldfish up the river to a new life in the Catskills. I am excited for them and this new life, a wee wistful, but excited none the less.
Here is the plan for this week. You might see that there are some carryovers from last week, our weekends are always a bit fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants meal wise. Friday night led us from Adelaide’s dance class, to Kara Walker’s Subtely at the Domino Sugar factory in our old ‘hood, Williamsburg (go see it if you can, http://creativetime.org/projects/karawalker/) to tacos at La Esquina (http://www.esquinabk.com). Yesterday our evening stroll ended in falafel at Taim (the best! http://www.taimfalafel.com) so I am carrying over the Strawberry panzanella and grilled lamb meatballs to this week. I just noticed I’m a dinner short. Stay tuned!