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The Fat of the Land

June 27, 1996|JANA LIEBLICH

I love fat!

And I know I'm not alone. Low-fat eating may be the rage these days, the responsible thing to do, but I encounter closet high-fat lovers everywhere.

My dad is one. At every family get-together he makes it clear at the beginning of the meal that he will not have any dessert because he is not a dessert eater.

Yeah, right. Where have I heard that before? By the time dessert rolls around he has changed his mind and says he'll try just "a little." I, of course, serve him a generous portion knowing he'll enjoy every bite.

I'm not saying every meal should be high in fat. I support the trend toward healthier cooking and eating. But it's better to face reality and pace our fat pleasures than to ignore it and binge later.

This Southern-style meal--fried chicken is a celebration of fat that would be a good meal to serve for the Fourth of July.

You've got all summer to eat salads.

Menu

Southern Fried Chicken

Biscuits (optional)

Cream Gravy

Spicy Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Apple-Pecan Upside-Down Cake

GAME PLAN

Night before: Prepare and bake cake. Prepare sweet potatoes and keep in covered pot to be reheated later.

2 hours before: Prepare biscuit dough with favorite recipe, if desired. Prepare ingredients for fried chicken.

1 hour before: Fry chicken, keeping cooked pieces covered in warm place while finishing the remainder of the chicken.

15 minutes before: Reheat sweet potatoes over low heat. Bake biscuits, if making. Make cream gravy. Warm cake in 150-degree oven for 10 minutes before serving.

STAPLES

Oil

Flour

Salt

Paprika

Black pepper

Eggs

Milk

Butter

Light brown sugar

Ground cinnamon

Ground cloves

Ground ginger

Baking powder

Poultry seasoning

Vanilla extract

SHOPPING LIST

2 (2 1/2- to 3-pound) frying chickens, cut up

6 sweet potatoes

2 (2-ounce) packages pecans

1 pint whipping cream

2 Granny Smith apples

SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN

Oil

3 cups flour

Salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons paprika

3 eggs

2 cups milk

2 (2 1/2- to 3-pound) frying chickens, cut up

Poultry seasoning

Every cook has a secret ingredient, and mine is Old Bay seasoning, though any poultry seasoning can be used.

Heat about 2 inches oil in heavy skillet or skillets (chicken may be cooked in batches or in multiple pans) until smoking and temperature reaches about 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, mix flour, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper and paprika in medium bowl. In separate bowl, whisk eggs into milk until well blended. Place chicken on baking sheet and sprinkle both sides lightly with salt to taste, followed by more generous sprinkling of poultry seasoning.

Dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture, shake off excess and transfer to egg-milk mixture. Remove, letting most liquid drip off. Return to flour mixture and dredge well. Shake off excess and place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Cook breasts first, placing chicken skin-side down in hot oil. Cook until skin turns nice golden brown, about 5 minutes. (Note: If chicken is burning, turn heat down immediately and wait for oil to cool before proceeding. Also, if oil gets too dark between batches, pour off and start over.)

Turn chicken over, reduce heat to low, cover and let cook about 15 minutes. Remove lid, turn chicken again and finish cooking, about another 15 minutes. Be sure to keep heat low to prevent burning. Remove chicken to paper towels and let excess oil drain off.

Repeat, cooking all chicken. Breasts and drumsticks take 30 to 35 minutes. Thighs take 20 to 25 minutes and wings take 10 to 15 minutes. When finished, pour off all but 1/3 cup pan drippings, being careful not to discard brown bits from bottom, to save for gravy. (See Kitchen Tip above.)

Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains about:

832 calories; 1,561 mg sodium; 269 mg cholesterol; 40 grams fat; 56 grams carbohydrates; 57 grams protein; 0.32 gram fiber.

SPICY WHIPPED SWEET POTATOES

1 (2-ounce) package pecans, chopped

6 sweet potatoes

1/4 cup butter, cut into 4 pieces

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup milk, warmed

1/4 cup whipping cream, warmed

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

Toast pecans on ungreased baking sheet at 450 degrees until nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Boil unpeeled sweet potatoes in water to cover until fork-tender, 30 to 45 minutes, depending on size of potatoes. Drain and cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, peel.

Puree sweet potatoes in food mill, or mash using hand-masher, being careful to remove all lumps. When potatoes are smooth, add butter and brown sugar and mix to combine. Add warm milk, cream, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Add all but 1/4 cup pecans and stir to combine. Transfer to warmed serving bowl, top with reserved pecans and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains about:

282 calories; 230 mg sodium; 26 mg cholesterol; 14 grams fat; 39 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 0.97 gram fiber.

APPLE-PECAN UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

TOPPING

1 (2-ounce) package pecans, chopped

1/4 cup butter

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

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