Southern Fried Chicken and Chicken Gravy

1 three pound whole fryer chicken, cut into pieces          1 quart Crisco or other vegetable oil

1 cup all-purpose flour

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste                                   2 cups milk for the gravy

 Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Roll in flour. Heat oil in a heavy skillet, until a sprinkle of flour into the hot oil sizzles. Then add chicken pieces. (If the oil is not hot enough, the chicken will not get crisp.) Cover and fry until golden brown, turning once. Total cooking time about 15-20 minutes. If juices run clear when the piece is pierced close to a bone, the chicken is done. Drain on paper towels. Serve six people, warm or cold.

 For the gravy, pour most of the oil out of the pan, leaving 4 tablespoons of oil in the pan. Heat up the pan and oil, over low to medium low heat. Add 4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Stir the oil and flour together, scraping up any chicken crispies from the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring and allow the mixture to brown for a few minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan as you go. If it seems too thick add a bit more oil, or too thin add a bit more flour, but make sure the flour gets a bit browned. You want a smooth mixture here, something stirrable but smooth.

Pour in the 2 cups of milk, continue stirring, adding a little more milk if the mixture seems too thick. Add salt to taste. Leave the gravy over low heat stirring occasionally. Serve over the mashed potatoes. Pass the rest if someone wants some gravy over their biscuits.

Copyrighted, 2012 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.

Southern Style Sweet Tea

 For 1 gallon:

  •  8 regular size Luzianne or Lipton tea bags or 3 quart-sized bags or equivalent amount of loose tea in a tea infuser
  • 1 1/2 quarts of water
  • 1 3/4  cups sugar

Tie tea bags together and remove paper tags.  Place water & tea bags in 2 quart sauce pan and water bring to a rolling boil, let simmer about 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and  add to sugar while tea is still hot. Stir until sugar is dissolved. (Adding hot tea to sugar and mixing the sugar well, is the critical step for making good tea.)

 Fill pitcher about half full of cool, tap water. Pour tea/sugar mixture into pitcher, adding more tap water if necessary.

 Serve over ice with a lemon slice, if you have the lemon.  Only make what you can drink that day. The tea is much better freshly made.

Copyrighted, 2012 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.


Cornbread and the Cast Iron Skillet

When the Scots-Irish came to America, they brought with them their foods and methods of cooking. Many of the cooking styles and foods became ‘American cuisine.’ One example is cornbread.  

In Scotland and Ireland, flat oat breads were cooked on a griddle. Oats and wheat were not as available on the frontier, but corn was. Cornbread quickly became the bread of the Scot Irish families and is still common throughout supper tables throughout the South.

Season your cast iron skillet before its first use. In the early days, a new skillet was lightly covered with lard and placed in a bed of coals and left overnight as the coals burned down. Now, the same thing can be done in an oven. Just put some foil on the shelf under the skillet to catch any drips. Lard still seems to work the best for seasoning, just a thin coat. You just have to season the skillet once, unless someone does something crazy, like putting the cast iron pan in the dishwasher.

In the old days, the corn bread was cooked in a skillet next to the fireplace or anyplace where coals were available. When Dutch ovens came into use, cornbread was often cooked in them.

Clean up is easy. Just wipe out the pan with a damp cloth and put on a high burner on the stove top for a few minutes. After it looks dry in just a couple of minutes, turn off the burner and leave the pan on the burner to cool over night. The next morning, the pan will be there waiting for you and the breakfast sausage and eggs. Nothing should stick to the pan and it won’t get rusty, with this regular use.

I remember suppers with a cereal bowl of corn bread with a little sugar sprinkled over it, then milk poured over it. Delicious! Our maternal grandfather, Daddy Holder, said it was better with sliced green onions and buttermilk . He never convinced us kids of that, since our daddy liked it with the sugar.

 Southern Corn Bread

 1 1/2 cups cornmeal*               2 tablespoons bacon grease or butter, melted                    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour*   2 eggs                                                                               Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt*           2 cups milk or buttermilk, more if batter seems dry      1 ¾ tablespoons baking powder *                                                                                           for the skillet – 2 T bacon grease or oil                                                                                   (*OR 3 cups corn meal mix instead of the above 4 dry ingredients)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Sift together the dry ingredients, into a mixing bowl. Add butter, egg and milk. Mix well. Heat your dry cast iron skillet over high heat for two minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of oil (bacon grease, preferred) to the skillet. Swirl oil around to coat bottom and sides of pan. Heat pan on burner another minute to get the grease hot.  Pour batter into pan. The batter will sizzle as it goes into the pan. Place in preheated oven and cook for about 30 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm with butter. Serves 10. (Variations include adding to the batter – sugar, as desired; chopped jalapenos; a small can of creamed corn or all of them. Good but not real Southern Corn Bread.)            Andrea Musgrove Perisho – “After Toil Comes Rest”

Copyrighted, 2012 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.