Marc and I had big plans for Kentucky--specifically, Texas toast piled with cheesey, bacony turkey; otherwise known as the Kentucky Hot Brown. The children, however, had other plans and we experienced our first all out mutiny. They were determined to have fried chicken. They didn't care that we've already had fried chicken, there is a Kentucky Fried Chicken right down the road from us and clearly that's what you should eat for a Kentucky dinner. Period. They won.
We consoled ourselves with the knowledge that fried chicken with biscuits was the favorite dinner of Kentucky native and Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe. While we hoped not to repeat any meals, I think we've done pretty well. This would be our 27th dinner, more than halfway done with no repeats so far!
For this meal, Marc managed the chicken and I handled the biscuits. He salted the chicken pieces and dredged them in white flour seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
Marc even went so far as to go out and buy a reliable fry thermometer, so he didn't have to guess at the oil temperature! In a large, enameled cast iron pot, he heated 8 cups cups of peanut oil to a full 375 degrees before adding the chicken pieces. The temperature dropped sharply right as the meat went into the oil, but it quickly recovered to about 350, where it stayed for the duration. He removed the breast pieces after about 25 minutes and left the dark meat for 30.
For the biscuits, I decided to use the lard that was leftover from our Navajo Tacos a couple weeks back. Usually, I bake biscuits and pastries with butter, but using lard was a revelation. It blended right into the flour and immediately created the perfect crumbly texture. The dough was soft, tender and easy to work with. Here's the basic recipe:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter or lard
3/4 cup buttermilk
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Blend the fat into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter. Slowly add buttermilk and mix briefly until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead once or twice. Pat (don't roll!) dough out into a circle 1-2 inches thick. Cut with biscuit cutter, reblending scraps only once. Bake for 10 minutes, until just barely done.
Coffee was apparently Bill Monroe's preferred beverage, so we made a pot for the grownups.
No one had any complaints about this meal. The chicken was perfectly done, with an even, crisp crust. The biscuits were remarkably tender--butter seems to give them a bit of a crunch, these were soft and delicate.
Next stop: Oklahoma