Nikki Giovanni’s Butter-Fried Chicken

Great food, a bottle of wine and great literature go hand in hand…….

New York Time journalist Elizabeth Harris interviewed the poet Nikki Giovanni for an article that appeared in the newspaper during the week of December 14,2020. Giovanni, 77, whose 19th collection of poems, “Make Me Rain,” came out this Fall. In the course of their discussion, Giovanni told  Harris about the butter-fried chicken she makes for dinner sometimes. That recipe didn’t make it into the final copy of the interview, but Harris did share Giovanni’s recipe with the rest of us in a .a brief excerpt found in the NYT Cooking column on-line.

It’s not so much a recipe as it is a no-recipe recipe, like the one’s our Grandmothers would hand down by word of mouth, and it results in an excellent chicken dish. The texture of the outer layer is crispy and the inner part is juicy and tender.  And in Giovanni’s own words:

“I’m a Southern cook so I use whatever is around. Cut the chicken up or if you are lucky and working purchase wings. There is no such thing as too much butter. A half stick is usually good, though. Put a couple of cloves of garlic in the skillet to let them simmer. I like to rub the wings with ginger but I forgot to tell you a shake or two of nutmeg really helps. If summer, get your rosemary from the garden or your tarragon or whatever is green growing. Do not roll a lot of flour on them. Just enough to cover then shake off. Do not batter them. You are not, after all, a chef trying to stretch your money.”
“Cook that floured chicken slowly,” Giovanni emphasized. “If you don’t have time to slowly fry,” she wrote, “then remember the old blues song: ‘Come back tomorrow and try it again.’   

It really takes the hand of an experienced cook to fry chicken in butter as it is a slow and tedious process. Scientifically, it is possible to cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts in butter, provided the temperature is kept below the 350° F frying point without danger of burning the chicken and the milk proteins found in the butter, as you find in Italian cuisine. As for bone-in chicken with the skin on, butter helps the skin to go brown because the milk solids in the butter brown, but it doesn’t make the chicken crispier by any means. Butter is used for colour and flavor. For that very reason, we adapted Nikki Giovanni’s recipe and we recommend frying the chicken in a combination of vegetable oil and butter, after thoroughly drying your bird, and reducing the temperature while frying the chicken to a slow simmer. This slow simmering of the chicken in butter is reminiscent of the term, à la meunière, which can be roughly translated as, in the manner of miller’s wifein reference to a French cooking technique in which a whole fish or  fish fillets are lightly dusted in flour and then sautéed in butter. The technique is easily adapted by replacing the main ingredients or incorporating additional elements.

Try it for dinner and see if it doesn’t suit your taste. We think it’s delicious, warm and fragrant, and is most  excellent when paired with  a nice Chardonnay! 

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
One 3-4 lb chicken cut up, or 3 pounds of thighs, drumsticks and wings
1 cup all purpose flour
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3 garlic cloves
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 stalk of celery
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 stick of unsalted butter
 

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 175 º F.

To prepare a draining station, set a wire rack in a rimmed baking pan. lined with paper towels; set aside.

Using clean paper towels, pat the chicken dry. Season with salt and pepper and set aside on a clean plate.

In a large bowl, add flour, salt, pepper, paprika, nutmeg, allspice and oregano. Mix them well until it is all incorporated.

Dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour mixture. Shake off the excess flour and set aside on a rack to dry. Repeat the same dredging process for the remainder of the chicken pieces.

Add the  vegetable oil to a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven to a depth of 2 inches. Heat the  oil  to 350 ºF. Add the butter, garlic cloves, rosemary and celery stalk. Add the chicken, and shallow fry for 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to fry the chicken for 15 to 20 minutes. Using tongs, turn and rotate the chicken pieces every few minutes to ensure even cooking and prevent the skin from burning, until the chicken is golden brown in color and the internal temperature of the chicken is 165° F (See Cook’s Notes Below).  

Transfer chicken to the prepared paper towel lined tray, and drain the chicken. Transfer the chicken to the oven to keep warm and repeat frying the rest of the chicken.

Serve immediately with your choice of tabasco sauce and side dishes, like potato salad, coleslaw, collard greens, or green beans.

 

Cook’s Notes:

As an alternative to using a mix of vegetable oil and butter, you can also use Crisco Butter Flavor Shortening. For the record, Crisco shortening has 50 percent less saturated fat than butter and 0g trans fat per serving. It is excellent for frying, and great for baking – giving you higher, lighter-textured baked goods, in addition to adding  a rich buttery flavor to foods.

While frying the chicken, cook slowly of medium-low heat, just about to a simmer, to prevent the flour from burning.

Use thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken, being careful not to touch the bones. Don’t be afraid to break the chicken’s crust to take the meat’s internal temperature; it should read 165 ° F.  Drumsticks/thighs are also done at 175 ° F.  Being on the safe side, a broken crust is vastly preferable to undercooked chicken. Plan on the whole process of  frying chicken to taking around 15–25 minutes, keeping in mind that white meat will cook faster than dark.

 

Recommended Products:

We are starting a new feature with this blog.  We get so many questions in our emails about the products we used in our recipes as well as the styling featuring our plates and props in the photographs. And running a free blog is not cheap endeavor, with  researching our favorite dishes, purchasing food props, and eventually cooking the dish and writing it up for your enjoyment.

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, we earn a very small commission from qualifying purchases.  These commissions help support  our blog in  providing you, our loyal followers, free access to our content.

Thank you for browsing and shopping! It is greatly appreciated.

Make Me Rain: Poems & Prose by Nikki Giovanni 

Butter Flavor Crisco All Vegetable Shortening, 48 oz.

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Combo Cooker, 2-Piece Set 

Saferell Instant Read Digital Food Thermometer

 

 

Hello Friends!

All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you!

 

 


Grilled Pork Chops with Balsamic Cherries

IMG_3116 pork chop

As the Summer of 2020 is quickly drawing to a close, I know that many of us probably have hit “the cooking wall” during the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic and it’s okay. We have to remind ourselves that everything does not have to perfect, as we are all looking for easier ways to prepare meals and break through the doldrums of being at home.

The one comfort I do find in my every day life can be found in my kitchen. Cooking has always served as my therapy in one form of another. With a little imagination, there is endless combination of proteins and produce that can grace your table. And if you like to eat seasonally, summer fruits like cherries, peaches and melon can take center stage in sweet and savory dishes.

This recipe is easy and only takes five ingredients and takes advantage of common pantry items like balsamic vinegar and olive oil. You can use bone in or boneless pork chops. I prefer bone in chops as they are less likely to dry out on the grill. Pork goes well with just about any type of fruit. Feel free to mix it up a little by using peaches, apples, blueberries, black berries or even strawberries, if you like.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups of fresh cherries, pitted and cut in halves
4 bones pork chops
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Preheat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium heat.

In a small bowl, add the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Ass the cherries and toss to coat. Allow the cherries to stand at room temperature and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Pat the pork chops dry with clean paper towels. Brush the pork chops all over with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season both sides with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place the pork chops on the grill and cook 3 to 4 minutes per side, until thoroughly cooked. Using an instant read thermometer inserted into each pork chop, the temperature of the meat should be 145 °F. If you are using bone-in pork chops, cook them for 6-8 minutes per side or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chop registers 145º F, as well.

Using tongs, remove the chops from the grill and place on serving platter, allowing them to rest for at least 5 minutes.

To serve, spoon the cherry mixture over the pork chops and garnish with parsley.

Cook’s Notes:
Fresh bing cherries were used for this recipe, but any variety of sweet cherry will also work in this dish. I find that a little bit of sweetness goes particularly well with pork dishes.

If you are only able to find sour cherries, it is recommended that you add one teaspoon of sugar to the sauce as it reduces. This dish tastes great with either fresh or frozen cherries, so use fresh if they are in season and if you are still craving this dish in the dead of winter, it is perfectly fine to use frozen cherries.

If you do not have any parsley on hand, herbs like thyme,rosemary or tarragon would work beautifully in this dish.

Also, you can substitute the pork with chicken thighs or boneless chicken breasts.

Alternatively, you can dredge the pork chops in seasoned flour and shallow pan fry until golden brown.

Hello Friends!

All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you!


Basque Roasted Chicken Thighs with Sweet Bell Peppers

101661306_2943181492397649_4682075094980231168_o

Chicken gets a Spanish spin, thanks to a sprinkling of smoked paprika and splash of sherry vinegar in this easy gluten-free dinner. You can roast the chicken and peppers on a sheet pan or a cast iron skillet, and either method will make for an easy clean up in the kitchen.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
8 oz mini sweet peppers, halved and seeded
1 small red onion, cut into thin wedges
2 pounds small bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
¼ cup smoked ham, diced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
¼ cup chopped parsley

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425°F. To a large bowl, add the oil, garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper. Add the peppers, onion, chicken, and ham and toss to coat.

Arrange on a large parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (or 2 smaller baking sheets) in a single layer with chicken skin-sides up. Alternatively, you can also use a 12-inch cast iron to roast the chicken and peppers. Bake 30–35 min., until chicken is cooked through.

When the chicken is done remove from the oven. To serve family style, transfer the chicken and peppers to a platter and drizzle with vinegar and  garnish with a sprinkle with parsley.

Hello Friends!

All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!