January 25, 2012

Dinner a la "The Help"

So I finally got on the bandwagon and read The Help. It was really really good. I read it in just under five hours and then I had to watch the movie version. I was really pleased with how well the movie stuck with the plot of the book. However, the combined effect of both reading the book AND watching the movie in the same week meant one thing: I really wanted some fried chicken. So at about four in the afternoon on Sunday I looked at Chris and said, "Are you hungry?" and when he said yes, it was was decided. Off to the store I went for the fixins for fried chicken. We ended up with quite the feast Sunday night. Fried chicken, green beans, buttermilk mashed potatoes and peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream.

Did I mention it was all weight watchers friendly too? ::insert sarcasm font here::

So in the spirit of the kind of hospitality and cooking you can only find below the Mason-Dixon line, I wanted to share the recipes I used to create our The Help inspired dinner.

"Minny Don't Burn No Chicken" Fried Chicken
*This is not a recipe so much as a method. I've never used one particular recipe for chicken and this is a compliation of several different ones that I have seen and read in the twelve years I have been reading cookbooks. I approached this much like Hermione does the first time she tries a memory modification charm. She's never done it, but she knows the theory.

  • 1 fryer chicken, or as many pieces as you like, skin on. I used two thighs, one large breast and two drumsticks. In short the store only had whole fryer chicken not one already butchered and Sarah don't butcher no chickens, thankyouverymuchmsceliafoote, so I bought mine separately and froze the rest for later.
  • 4 cups of buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • garlic powder
  • hot sauce (Louisiana Hot, Tabasco etc)
  • black pepper (freshed cracked preferably)
  • cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp paprika

Place chicken in a large dish in a single layer. Combine buttermilk, salt and as much of the seasonings as desired. I put probably 2 TBS of hot sauce because we like it spicy. Whisk together and pour over chicken pieces. Turn the chicken pieces at once to make sure the entire surface is coated. Let the chicken sit in the buttermilk brine mixture for at least one hour. It'd be ok to leave it in overnight.

While the chicken brines, put the flour, paprika in either a large ziplock freezer bag or a paper grocery sack. Add other seasonings listed to your taste. We like a lot of cayenne pepper. Shake to combine.

Once the chicken is done brining, let excess buttermilk drip off, place it in the sack with the flour and shake it all around for about 30 seconds to a minute until the pieces are all coated with seasoned flour. Remove the pieces one by one and set on a piece of saran wrap on the counter. It's best to get over it and use your fingers to do this so tongs don't scrape the breading off. Allow the chicken to sit for about 10 minutes so the breading can stick.

Meanwhile as the breading is sticking...

Fill a large skillet with high sides about 1/2 full with oil. Not too full now, remember we are frying chicken here, not deep frying.

Once the oil is very hot (about 300F) CAREFULLY place the chicken in one piece at a time. I used my fingers for this I think it is easier and the breading stays on better. Don't stick your thumb in the frying oil like I did. Fry for about 16 minutes turning once. If the chicken starts to get too dark lower the heat slightly. Once the chicken reaches an internal temperature of at least 165F it is done. I used a meat thermometer to determine this since I couldn't get a good feel on the flesh because of the breading.

Once chicken is cooked remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain. If you need to fry in batches, keep chicken in a warm oven. I got three pieces in my frying pan and then did the other two.

Enjoy your fried chicken! :)

Mae Mobley's Favorite Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1/2 stick of butter, divided into four pieces
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • salt
  • pepper


Peel potatoes and cut into 2 inch pieces.

Places cut potatoes into a large pot and fill with water until potatoes are about 1 inch covered. Boil potatoes over medium high heat until they are fork tender.

Drain potatoes and return to the pot and leave the cover half off. Let sit for five minutes. This allows the excess water to evaporate off and keeps the potatoes hot.

Remove potatoes to a large bowl. Add in buttermilk and butter and season to your taste with salt and pepper. Using a hand masher, mash potatoes to the desired consitency. Depending on the type of potatoes you might need to add a little more or less buttermilk. We like ours a little lumpy with lots of pepper.

Out of Season Peach Dump Cobbler
*Disclaimer, this is totally NOT my recipe. However I have no one to give credit to because if you haven't heard of it you must be living under a culinary rock. Google "Dump Cobbler" and I promise you, you will find about 10,000 recipes for this. I don't even remember the first place I found this recipe. I do remember that it was August and I made it for my little brother's birthday party. It's so easy I've never had to look it up again. So to all the authors of this recipe, thanks! :)
  • 1 stick of butter (Butter folks, butter. Not margarine.)
  • 1 cup of self-rising flour
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 can peach pie filling (any flavor will do here)

Preheat oven to 350F

In a deep baking dish place one stick of butter and place in the oven to melt.

While the butter melts mix flour, sugar and milk together.

Once the butter is melted remove the dish, pour the batter in the center of the butter. DO NOT STIR!!!

Next spoon the pie filling in the middle of the batter. DO NOT STIR!

Place dish back into the oven and bake for 40 minutes, until the top is golden and browning. Let stand in oven about 10-15 more minutes with the heat turned off.

Serve with vanilla icecream.

The Finished Product
(I was too tired to take a picture of the plated cobbler...)

The recipe I used for the Green Beans can be found {HERE}. I'll admit it I have a thing for canned grean beans...