Thursday, July 16, 2009

Spicy Fried Chicken: A Cooking Basic

For today, dear friends, a break from the Colorado focus. I know I've just made someone's day. But, before the actual post, I want to point out that I've updated my blog list with most of the blogs I check with some regularity. I've got a few more to weed through. I thought some of you might find some of them interesting, and have been meaning to get them posted for some time out of my bookmarks. And, today's the day! Woo-hoo. I also updated my interesting links list to include more websites I visit. I hope you find some of them as interesting as I do. OK, enough of that.

For today, a cooking basic.

I have a confession to make. I like to cook without a recipe. And, when I do that, I have a hard time telling someone else what I did. But, for you, dear blog readers, I tried to pay attention and make up an actual recipe from what I did. So it can be a cooking basic post here on Ate Up Amateur.

And, I tried to write out the recipe so I can also post it here - Tasty Kitchen - the Pioneer Woman's new recipe site. I think the new site is great! I already posted my previous recipes on there, and I plan to add more. (this recipe can be found here.)I did not post the sangria recipe, because it came from Cuisine. And, I did not post the brownie/cookie recipe since it came from Betty Crocker. But, I will begin to post others there as well as here because I love to make stuff up. And because my "cooking basics" posts seem to be popular with my 22 readers. So I figure I'll make up some more of those too!

And, with all my cooking basics posts, what I want to urge you to do - if you don't already do it - is to get in that kitchen and MAKE STUFF UP YOURSELF! It's easy, it's fun, it's rewarding. It's like your very own science experiment. And, this, dear friends, is an easy place to start - start with chicken. It's very forgiving. And make up a new recipe. And tell me about it! And post it on P Dub's new site, too! It'll make your Thursday.

I trimmed the chicken with my birthday present from Dad and Torchy -
a Cutco knive. It works like a dream.

So I bought some chicken tenders at the grocery store that were on sale "buy one get one free." I froze one container of said chicken and put the other one in the fridge for last night's meal. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the chicken, but I was going to cook it somehow. But not in the oven. It's too hot to heat up the house with that oven. Have I mentioned it's hot? And that I hate the heat? Oh, well, just in case you didn't get that memo, it IS hot. And I hate the heat. But I digress.

It was S that got me thinking of frying it really. I've mentioned before that S is a picky eater, but he's been sort of open to trying new things lately and he mentioned he thought he might, maybe, one day sort of kinda try some fried chicken. Or, "old dead chicken" as my dad calls appetizing, no? Anyway, I tried to make some that I thought he would like. I used some of his favorite ingredients - buttermilk - flour - spices - cornmeal, even.

Then he wouldn't try it. Sniff.
I drowned my sorrows in a nice glass of wine.

It's OK. I ate it. And it was good, friends, it was yummy goodness. And, before we go any further, for you health nuts wondering why on earth I'd fry up perfectly healthy chicken, wondering what on earth I'm doing to my arteries, I'd like to quote Paula Deen. Oprah asked her, when she appeared on Oprah's show, (I think, right as Paula was adding four sticks of butter to a mixing bowl) what Paula would say to those who might say her cooking is not heart healthy - and please, think this quote in Paula's southern accent - she gave Oprah this look like she was crazy and then she said:

"Honey, I'm your cook, not your doctor."

Well put, Ms. Deen, well put. And perfectly summarized for all who might go down that path. I'm a cookin' here folks. Just go with it. But, just because I'm nice like that, I'll make you feel better about eating that fried chicken later in the post.

So, here it is, for my wonderful blog readers, no matter your cooking experience - you can make this - it's super easy, quick and tasty:

Ate Up Amateur's Spicy Fried Chicken
(Printable version on Tasty Kitchen)

1 lb raw chicken tenders, trimmed of fat (or any raw chicken, trimmed of fat)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal (I used white cornmeal because it is in my refrigerator for Anna's Cornbread)
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 cup buttermilk
Cooking oil - enough to have at least 1/4 inch in the pan

Now, people all those amounts are approximate guesses...I did not measure any of them out...I just "eyeballed" my amounts. If you want to add more or less, do it. It'll be OK. And you'll be on your way to making your own, possibly better, recipe!

I should also say there are as many fried chicken recipes out there as there are chickens. Another confession I should make - I read recipe books. Just sit down and read them. Cover to cover. Love doing it. I have tons of them in my house. And more at the bookstore I read there and left like it was a library. So, I'm sure some of that reading makes it into my concoctions, by osmosis, so to speak. There is nothing really new about my cooking experiments. They are just lots of cooking ideas rearranged. That's why this recipe is a basic, folks. This recipe is not that revolutionary - it's just a combination I thought I would like. And I did. Like it, that is.

Put your skillet on the stove, put the cooking oil in the skillet, put it on medium heat to warm up. And, I don't care what sort of cooking oil you use. Canola, corn, olive, bacon fat, vegetable. Whatever. Maybe not mineral. Heh heh. Just use some oil, OK? And, if you're deep fryer folk, knock yourself out and use that mac daddy. I don't use one. So it's not pictured here in this post.

Combine flour, cornmeal, and all spices in one bowl. Put the buttermilk in another bowl.

Dredge the chicken through the buttermilk and then through the flour mixture.

Repeat for all chicken pieces.

I should say some people swear by dredging first in egg. I don't do this.

Some others dredge first in the dry mixture, then in the buttermilk, then again in the dry mixture. I find this to be very messy and haven't seen that it really adds much. But that's just me. Maybe I'm missing some universal truth about double dry dredging and you are clued in to the mystery. Who knows. Do whatever you'd like to do. I won't tell.

Place the chicken in the hot oil. Adjust the temperature if the oil gets too hot, but don't lower it too much, or the chicken will not brown quickly. To fry chicken, sometimes that oil will pop on you. Or at least it does on me - if I lower it to not pop, it gets too cold to fry fast enough for my taste. I don't like the chicken to sit in the grease any longer than it has to, so I'm willing to go with a little popping to fry it up fast. So, play with the temperature as you wish and find your own perfect solution.

Cook on one side for a few minutes and then turn the chicken over to cook on the other side. If you're using larger pieces of chicken, maybe you should pound them out before dredging so they cook faster.

If you're not up for that, then maybe you should make the oil even hotter. Or, trim the chicken down to smaller pieces for cooking. Or just let it cook longer. Play around with it. You'll find the solution.

Remove from the skillet when browned on both sides and drain on a paper towel.

Then, you can eat it up just like that. Or as part of a larger meal. Or with some biscuits ala KFC. Or, like me, to make myself - and you health nuts out there - feel better about eating fried chicken, make a spinach salad with some tomatos and carrots and other vegetables in it and add the fried chicken to the salad. It's tasty! It really is!

So, there you go my friends, a cooking basic for a Thursday. Happy Thursday! See you tomorrow.


  1. Nothin' like some good fried chicken. Gotta love it! Must have lunch now.

  2. It certainly looks and sounds YUMMY!!


  3. Aw come on Amy lets have a good peanut butter fudge recipe!


  4. Looks delicious! My grandma (good ol' Texas small town, cotton picker, mother of 10, amazing woman) just recently taught Todd how she makes fried chicken. Her ultimate trick for getting the temperature just right and keeping it there is to use a cast iron skillet. And now my dear hubby is a fabulous chicken fryer (and he's adapted the process fabulously).

    S missed out by not trying yours. I bet it was yummy!

  5. Again you're making me hungry. I don't think I've ever met a picky eater that wouldn't eat fried chicken. What does S eat?!?!? What did he eat while you were enjoying that fried chicken goodness all by yourself? Oh, and great call with the spinach salad to make yourself feel a little better about it - I would probably eat it with biscuits, mashed potatoes and homemade white gravy. MMMMMMMM - time to head home and make dinner.... :-)


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