Dinner tonight is courtesy of it being late spring! The local farmers have slaughtered chickens, so we have chicken available again (we had run out of the ones we bought and froze last fall). Also it is STRAWBERRY SEASON! Open season on all strawberries, no limit. We bought the chickens from one of our linked farmers, and the strawberries from our local biodynamic farmer. His strawberries and melons are the best I’ve ever eaten, no lie. We are having sugar snap peas from our garden to accompany, along with mashed potatoes.
(click pictures to enlarge. All my cooked chicken pictures came out blurry, /sigh)
Buttermilk Cornflake Chicken:
2 whole chicken breasts
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup Corn flake crumbs
¼ cup Soft flour
¼ cup white cornmeal (or ½ cup soft flour total, no cornmeal)
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
Canola (rapeseed) Oil or Peanut Oil
Split 2 whole chicken breasts. Don’t skin them, don’t debone them.
Combine warm water with salt. I use about ½ cup salt per quart of water. Brine for 1 hour and then rinse them. Use enough water to submerge the breasts.
Soak the 4 split breasts in 2 cups of buttermilk for another hour in the refrigerator.
Mix 1/2 cup soft (low-gluten) flour with ½ cup white cornmeal and 1 cup of ground corn flake cereal. I use 3 tablespoons of ground black pepper in this. Adding a dash of cayenne or sweet paprika are pleasant options as well.
Dip each buttermilk covered piece into the dry mix, coat, and place in a clear casserole dish. Add enough vegetable oil of your choice (I prefer canola or peanut oil) to come up the side of the pan 1/4 inch. Pour the rest of the dry mix over the chicken and the oil.
Cook at 375 degrees in a pre-heated oven for an hour, until done and slightly more than golden brown. Check the chicken at 30 minutes, you may need to baste them a bit. Remove chicken pieces from pan and drain on a rack or a paper towel. Serve. We like to use a slotted spoon to scrape up all the loose mix, we call them the “yummy bits”.
Mashed potatoes. 2 lbs of potatoes peeled and cut into evenly sized pieces. Boil until cooked. Add 4 tablespoons butter and 1 cup of whole milk or half&half. Add salt and pepper to taste (we like a lot). Mash/whip with a potato masher, adding more liquid if necessary for a lighter texture. Cover in a bowl with aluminum foil and it will hold for several hours if necessary before dinner.
Steamed sugar snaps. Sugar snaps from our garden! Steam them & serve. Some of the best things are the simple ones.
Glazed Strawberries in Crust:
I don’t want to call this a pie, though it kind of looks like one. It doesn’t have custard, or a lot of “filling”, the strawberries aren’t cooked, it doesn’t hold together like “pie”. Mostly it is a dessert paying homage to fresh strawberries, dressing them up for formal presentation while trying to maintain their natural sweetness and innocence. I even tried to research it to see who else might make something like this, and if the French have a name for it (they usually do) but I couldn’t find it.
Destem and wash 2 quarts of strawberries. Place in an air-tight storage container with ¼ cup of confectioner’s sugar and shake gently. Place in refrigerator for several hours.
Pie Crust: Combine 1.5 cups of low gluten flour (I use White Lily, same as my biscuit flour and the flour above with the chicken) with ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar, 3 tablespoons of cold butter, and 3 tablespoons of frozen lard (we get our lard from a local farmer and keep it frozen). The butter and the lard need to be in small pieces. Throw into a stand mixture and turn on low, allowing the fat and flour to combine until mealy. Add 4 tablespoons of cold (refrigerator cold) water, 1 tablespoon at a time, slowly. Add ½ teaspoon of white distilled vinegar. Turn off and test. If the dough will hold together as a ball when you squeeze it, you have added enough liquid. If absolutely necessary, add another tablespoon or two, no more. Store the dough in refrigerator for 30 min to 1 hour. Roll out into a circle and put in pie pan. Crimp and put in fork holes as needed. I used excess dough to cut out tiny stars to put on top afterward. Put in refrigerator for another 30 min. Remove and bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool completely. Note that starting this at least 3 hours before you want to add the strawberries becomes a good idea.
Glaze: combine 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water in a pan and bring to a boil. Add 4 tablespoons of caro syrup or other plain corn syrup and stir, bringing back to a boil. Make a slurry of 1 cup of water and 4 tablespoons of arrowroot powder and pour into sugar syrup, stirring constantly. Right as it starts to boil again, remove from heat and let cool. It should cool as a clear glaze.
Assembly: Lay out the strawberries on a cookie sheet, point up, as close as possible to each other. Drizzle the glaze over the strawberries evenly. Using tongs, transfer strawberries to the cooked and cooled pie crust. Pile them in and pile them as high as you like. Set the stars around the perimeter or on top in any attractive pattern. Refrigerate in a container until ready to serve.
Whipped cream: Combine 1 cup of whipped cream with ¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar and ¼ cup of honey. Whip until stiff. Cut a slice of pie and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.