Down-home American Cuisine

Two weeks ago, Chow suggested we invite friends over to her house and cook a dinner that relied on a new cookbook she had received. The cookbook contained only “down-home” classic American dishes, organized on a state-by-state basis. Of course, I’m up for trying to cook almost anything in the kitchen, especially if it is someone else’s kitchen!

The main course of the meal was “Kansas Fried Chicken”. Having a lot of relatives in Kansas and having lived there a year before moving to Thailand, I can’t rightly say what distinguished fried chicken as “Kansas” fried chicken. This was only my second time trying to make fried chicken and I have to say, keeping the oil temperature consistent around the 350 F target is a pain in the neck.

The end result turned out pretty well. The chicken isn’t brined or marinated. Simply pat it dry, sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper, and paprika, and then dredge in a mixture of flour, salt, pepper, and I added some chile powder. The result was super. The chicken remained moist and with sufficient salt, very flavorful. Afterwards, I used a few tablespoons of the oil to make the best gravy I’ve ever made.

If you have gravy, you might as well have some biscuits, right? These were another recipe from the cookbook and, oddly, they used vegetable oil rather than a solid fat such as butter or Crisco. The texture was tender although I think my biscuit recipe (from my mother) is better. The Crisco in the recipe gives it a flakier texture.

Side dishes included a baked spinach casserole. The bread crumbs Chow used were panko, the Japanese bread crumbs used in tempura. The dish was very dry; not sure if something more was meant to be added to the greens. It was tasty, though.

The asparagus side dish was fantastic. It used cream of mushroom soup straight from the can, spread in alternating layers with the asparagus and then baked. On the top are crushed Cheese-It crackers. 

Used this opportunity to break out a jar of the pickled green tomatoes and shallots that I made a month ago. These were great. I need to figure out somewhere to get a larger quantity of green cherry tomatoes so I can pickle more.

Dessert was a cherry and blackberry pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Nice and simple, keeping with our Americana theme.


0 thoughts on “Down-home American Cuisine

  1. Man, you’re a good cook! So much variety and sooooo many ingredients!! You seriously cooked all that in one night?! I also want to hear more about that gravy! I reckon John makes the best gravy so I’m curious to see what you put in yours πŸ™‚

  2. Last week, I watched that movie “The Help”. There was a lot of chicken frying in large iron skillets in that film, made me hungry watching. One of the women teaches her young boss how to cook fried chicken onscreen. I think a large iron skillet helps to regulate the temperature needed.Both of my Southern grandmothers specialized in cooking fried chicken, one often made it for breakfast (sometimes a fresh chicken from her flock) as she had done for her farm family. They would both approve of this meal.

  3. The gravy is the most important part of the meal and no photo!! I also love the Corelle dishes – same pattern that my in laws used to have. Reminds me of Sunday dinner – fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, homemade egg noodles and the all important hot dish – usually a green bean or broccoli casserole made with soup… always had to get a can of soup on the table somehow!

  4. @beowulf222 – Sorry for undermining your diet!@Inciteful – Agreed, although commercial lard in the US has an unpleasant taste these days. Not like real, locally made lard.@awoolham – Recipe is super easy. Clean and trim asparagus stalks. Open a can of cream of mushroom soup. Crush a couple cups’ worth of cheese-in crackers. Grease/butter a dish, put in a layer of asparagus, add a third of the can of soup, sprinkle some cracker crumbs, and repeat three times until finished. Bake in a 350 oven for 20 minutes or so, covering if the mixture looks to be drying out too much.@murisopsis – Not sure that gravy photographs all that well! =D@Ricardo98 – Agreed that a heavy skillet probably does the best job of keeping the heat regulated.@CurryPuffy – Think of the calories I’ve saved you from consuming.@stepaside_loser – All gravy starts out the same, doesn’t it? A roux made with equal parts flour and flat. Cook for a bit to let the flour fully hydrate, and then start stirring in a liquid, normally milk. Continue to stir and add milk until desired consistency is reached. Season with s/p as needed.@stevew918 – Sure – when are we going to have the honor of your presence again?@Journal2myself – Actually, not all that bad, especially if eaten in moderation. There was a green salad, too, but didn’t share a picture of it.@armnatmom – Fried chicken – as much a Thai dish as an American one, right? =D@Fatcat723 – I have rarely met a cookbook whose recipes I didn’t deviate from.

  5. Cream of mushroom soup from a can? It reminds me of some of the meals my mom used to make too (usually a chicken casserole of some type). The fried chicken looks pretty good. If I cooked that at my condo, it’ll take about 3 or 4 days to air everything out.

  6. looks like a typical “fried” heart choker meal i would have loved the spinach and cheese without the panko and the asparagus without all the salt from the mushroom soup in the can. you are brave to eat all that sugar, salt, and fat. looked pretty but scary

  7. What a great meal! says the woman who grew up with this kind of food on a regular basis. I do think a cast iron skillet is probably best for frying chicken. I frequently added paprika to my flour mixture as well as salt and pepper. Many possibilities with that. Also not crowding the chicken makes for faster frying and crisper crust. It looked like you were using a deep pan for frying. I can’t imagine what made the spinach dish dry. Usually spinach has residual moisture from washing. It looked delicious, so I’d try it again. I think it would be good with chard, kale, or collard greens if any of those are available. I’m going to try the asparagus when we have it again. Ours is pretty sparse now as we’re at the end of the season. You know not to mess with the biscuit recipe…it works very well. I think the shortening is necessary for flakiness…oil just doesn’t produce that. Did you have difficulty finding any of the ingredients?

  8. As usual, it looks sooooo delicious Chris!Lets see now. Do I incessantly nag the husband to cook a meal like this, or do I attempt to do it myself? Either way, I know I’m the one who’ll be doing the dishes afterward. πŸ˜€

  9. Drooling! I have stopped eating chicken after the food (poultry)poisoning. But I cook it for the family. I think Sayeed and Mohamed and Dave will really go for this. The asparagus dish looks so good Chris. I shall make it this week. Thank you.

  10. @ZSA_MD – All those food scares in America… =(@marc11864 – You can practice while he is back in Thailand and then surprise him upon his return.@jandsschultz – I think Chow over-dried the spinach by squeezing out too much residual moisture. As for the ingredients, everything was easy to find, even the cheese-its, although Chow used another brand of similar crackers and not the original brand.@grannykaren – On some level, I don’t think it is too bad in terms of fat, salt, and sugar. (Well, except the gravy…) It is more a matter of moderate portion sizes.@ElusiveWords – This is why I’m not allowed to cook fried food at home, since our kitchen and living area are connected. Chow’s kitchen and dining room are an entire separate section of the house.@rudyhou – Let me know when you are coming for dinner…

  11. Looked great and I bet there wasn’t much left over either! We had fried chicken last Sunday after church but at the local restaurant that specializes in it! I shouldn’t eat the skin but it tastes so good when fried! Thanks for sharing this, Chris….very enjoyable indeed!

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