I love my large extended family. The last time we moved, a dozen cousins showed up at 8 a.m. to load up the moving van and all their various assorted cars. Once we got to the house, they quickly unpacked everything and even started lining my pantry cupboards! We fed them a couple of buckets of chicken and afterward they proceeded to set up and assemble my furniture. We were treated to a funny, amusing mirror show by one of my cousins and just used the opportunity to hang out with each other. And then we all went out for dinner.
This past weekend was no different. This time around I requested help with several large dressers and my bed and frame. I didn't expect them to cart my many, many, many books. Nor did they want to either. I put out the call and got half a dozen family members and two of their significant others. My second-youngest uncle lent me his van. And we were off! Well, with phone calls around 10 a.m. nudging everyone awake...
I swear, our family motto should be, "Will work for food."
Of course, I needed to reward my family for all their hard work so I made Feta Cheeseburgers. I made the patties the night before and they cook up quickly on my little George Foreman grill. While the burgers were cooking, I was frying up chicken.
How good were they? Well, my second youngest cousin was supposed to go to the beach with his friends but opted to help move so he could have some fried chicken. OK, maybe the light sprinkling of rain had a little something to do with that decision too...
I made 5 lbs worth of mashed potatoes with sour cream, but the cream gravy doesn't come until after I finish frying the chicken. This is not a low-fat meal, so it's a good thing I only make this once a year.
Southern Fried Chicken and Mashed Potatoes with Cream Gravy
For the chicken, you'll need:
1 4-lb package of chicken drumsticks (or thighs or breasts or whatever your preference)
3 cups flour (I use a 2/3 white, 1/3 wheat flour ratio)
1-2 cups milk or soy milk
1 tblsp salt
Spices (I use Old Bay, celery salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, basil, thyme, parsley, and a touch of cayenne pepper. Go up to 11 herbs and spices if you like.)
For the mashed potatoes, you'll need:
5 lbs potatoes (I use cheap Russets because it was on sale for 99 cents for a 10-lb bag. But I've also used a mix of gold and red potatoes too.)
Optional: sour cream
The night before you intend to fry the chicken, wash the chicken and allow to drain in a colander. Season with about 1 tablespoon of salt. I use a ratio of about 1 teaspoon per pound of chicken. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and leave in fridge overnight to brine.
You can make the mashed potatoes ahead of time if you wish. Or if you're not in a rush to feed hungry movers like I was, you can make it fresh on the same day you fry the chicken. Don't these mashed potatoes look so yummy?
OK, now let's get started making the potatoes, shall we? Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Peel and wash the potatoes. Keep them in a bowl of salty water to prevent them from browning.
Cut into 2-inch chunks.
Add to pot of boiling water. When the potatoes are so tender they break apart with a fork, drain into a colander.
Then dump the potatoes back into the pot. Mash with various portions of milk, butter, and sour cream until it's to your liking.
And you're done. Cover the potatoes and set aside.
Time to make the fried chicken. Mmm. Just look at the crispy coating.
Add oil to your wok or fry pan and turn the heat between medium and medium-high. Back to the chicken, in a bowl mix 2 cups white flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, add in as many spices as you like. I dump in a tblsp of Old Bay and Lawry's seasonings, then a tsp or so of paprika, parsley, oregano, garlic powder, and ground black pepper. Mix thoroughly.
In another bowl, beat two eggs into 1 1/2 cups milk. As you can see, you want to keep your brined chicken, flour and herb mixture, and milk and egg mixture near you for ease in frying.
Take your chicken and dip it into the egg/milk mixture.
Dredge it through the flour mixture making sure to coat evenly. Notice that even though it seemed like I added in a lot of seasonings, after mixing it up, you can barely see it amidst the flour.
Dip it into the egg/milk mixture again.
Dredge it through the flour mixture again. The double-dipping and dredging makes a nice crispy crust.
Mmm. Crispy fried chicken.
When all the chicken has been fried, drain the oil into another pan or bowl, reserving the flour that was in the bottom of the fry pan. If you're making a big batch of chicken, keep an eye out to make sure the flour doesn't burn. If it does, just drain out the oil, clean the pan, and continue frying. You don't need too much of the flour mixture to flavor the cream gravy. This is actually the amount of flour from about half a dozen drumsticks. I know this seems fatty, but it makes the best cream gravy. And I only make this about once a year so might as well indulge.
Add any remaining flour spice mixture and any egg/milk mixture to the pan. Add a good couple of cups of milk if needed. Stir until the flour has thickened the milk and a cream gravy has formed.
Now add all the elements together and you've got the perfect plate of Southern fried chicken, mashed potatoes with cream gravy.
You may want to serve this with Buttermilk Biscuits.