The chicken is having quite a year. Its versatility hasn't always been mused as impressive, but with the attainability of better-tasting birds, it's officially having a gourment moment. Fried chicken has become a gateway drug for innovative yet low-country, persistent assemblies of the Southern classic.
Breakfast or Brunch: Chicken and Waffles
While the re-emergence of the classic American breakfast (or lunch, or dinner) is inspiring brunch-goers all over the country, it’s also igniting controversy. The argument: is it a Southern thing or a Yankee’s dish?
First, make this pan-fried chicken recipe and set aside. Next, make the waffles. Place the chicken on a sturdy, rich waffle – fried chicken needs an equal counterpart and wouldn’t rest well atop a lighter waffle. We really like this buttermilk waffle recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Pour this red-eye gravy over top, or make a rich maple-butter gravy to drizzle over the dish.
For maple gravy, make a roux with 3 tablespoons flour and ½ stick butter. Then add 1 and 3/4 cups of milk and 1/3 cup good quality maple syrup. Season with salt to taste, add hot sauce for a kick if desired, and add pinch of cinnamon if desired.
Lunch: Fried Chicken Cups
The bits left in the pan after frying, or in the bottom of the serving dish are definitely team favorites. This dish is inspired by those tasty leftovers. Find the freshest butter lettuces available – they should be tender, yet sturdy and crisp.
Cut and crumble the above fried chicken recipe and place in butter lettuce cups. Top cups with chopped radishes and make this herbed buttermilk dressing. Generously drizzle dressing over top. Serve as 3 cups per plate or serving.
Dinner: Fried Chicken, Grits, and Fried Egg
Yep, more breakfast-inspired chicken. But serve this dish for dinner with a side of asparagus, if desired. Make the fried chicken recipe listed above and set aside.
Prepare yellow or white (depending on preference) old-fashioned grits. Buy stone-ground grits from a good local mill if possible. House Autry out of South Carolina is one of the best Southern brands - their grits are available for purchase online. Make grits according to package. Add butter, salt, and pepper to taste. Add fresh parsley or rosemary to grits if desired.
While preparing the grits, fry an egg over the stovetop.
Lay fried chicken over warm grits and top with the fried egg. Break and consume.
*Note: if for any of these recipes you prefer less of a crisp on your chicken, skip the cornmeal and only use all-purpose flour.