Thursday, December 27, 2012

Creamy Chicken and Rice

It's winter outside and time for some of my favorite comfort foods. One of my favorites is my Creamy Chicken and Rice. I guess technically it is a casserole, but not in the "just throw everything in a baking dish" sense. I always try and save half of a rotisserie chicken for this when I buy one. I use the rotisserie chicken because of it's wonderful flavor it imparts to the dish. I also use these tasty chickens in my Jambalaya recipe as well. I have to say that Walmart has about the best rotisserie chickens I have found.

I have several other "Chicken and Rice" dishes but this one is my favorite. My Mom used to make one that was the inspiration for this version. I added a touch of cayenne and a little more garlic than you might like, I like it a little spicy. You can leacve out the chicken and substitute other types of cream soups like celery and mushroom if you want to use this as a side dish with your chicken or whatever.

2-3 cups cooked chicken meat
1½ cups water
1½ cups uncooked rice
2 10 oz. cans of Cream of Chicken Soup
½ large onion (diced small)
2 sticks celery (sliced thin)
4-5 cloves of garlic (minced fine)
3 green onions (with green tops, sliced thin)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp Tony Chachere's
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbs minced parsley (dried or fresh)
¼ stick butter
2 tbs oil

Preheat oven to 350º, then in an oven-proof pot (with a lid) on the stove at MED heat, saute the onions and celery in the butter and oil. When wilted, add green onions, garlic, and all seasonings. Cook 5 mins., then add chicken and cook for another 5 mins. Add water and bring to a boil. Add the rice and stir well to incorporate. Cook until rice has nearly absorbed all the liquid. Add the soup and stir well to make sure all is blended well. Place covered in the oven for 45 mins. to an hour. Rice should be done and tender with a nice bubbly crust on top. Let it steam for about 10 mins and serve.

I always use my left over rotisserie chicken for this recipe. I usually have about half a chicken, the thighs and one side of the breast meat, left over for this recipe. If you use fresh chicken, make sure it is cooked done before adding rice. You can omit the oil and add more butter, but be careful not to burn your vegetables when you sauté them, the oil helps prevent that.

Enjoy this dish during the winter months to take the chill off, I think you'll love the richness of it.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Scottish Shortbread for Christmas

Here is a quick traditional Scottish recipe for Christmas. One of my family's favorite Holiday recipes. A friend from Scotland taught me this recipe. Merry Christmas!

Scottish Shortbread

2 cups all-purpose flour - sifted
½ cup powdered sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 cup real butter - softened

Preheat oven to 325º. Sift flour, sugar, and salt together in a bowl. Gradually add butter into the mixture and combine with pastry blender or a fork. Pat mixture onto an un-greased cookie sheet. Pat it out thin and pierce with a fork about every inch. bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cut into squares and sprinkle with colored sugar while still warm.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Leapin Lizzards! It's Gizzards

When most people hear the word gizzard in relation to Southern cooking, they automatically think of Granny from the BEverly Hillbillies who often spoke of Crow Gizzards, Hawk Gizzards, etc. when she rattled off her daily menu for the family. The lowly gizzard is something I eschewed for most of my life. Up until 2 years ago, I had never eaten a gizzard. Now I've had livers, which I am not too fond of, maybe the texture or the organ meat twang, but never a gizzard.

I had seen an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, with Guy Fieri, about a place called Joe's Gizzard City. They were frying up gizzards by the bucket-full for their patrons who were putting them away. So I thought I would give them a try. After a little experimentation, I have come up with my own recipe. Now I will warn you GIZZARDS ARE CHEWY! I do not par-boil or pressure-cook my gizzards, but I do have a step that helps to tenderize them and mellow out their taste a little.

I am finding when I buy gizzards, it's usually Tyson, they come with hearts. The heart is a nice little less-chewy tidbit that is like a little bonus. I wash them thoroughly and look for any yellowish-green skin that pulls right off, this doesn't occur very often maybe 1 piece per pound if that many. Just peel it off and throw it away. I soak 1 pound of them in a cup or so of buttermilk, overnight in the fridge to ready them for action. I then drain and shake off the excess buttermilk, (I really give them a shaking in a sieve or strainer, you don't want them dripping), let them sit on a plate and dry for a bit to bring them up to nearly room temperature. I dust them in the flour mixture and pan fry them. Here's what you need...

Fried Chicken Gizzards
1 lb chicken gizzards with/without hearts
3 cups of flour
1 cup cornmeal (I like yellow)
3-4 tbs Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tbs black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1-1½ cup buttermilk + 2 tbs salt added to buttermilk
enough oil for half inch in cast iron skillet.

First, soak the gizzards overnight in a zip-lock bag with buttermilk and salt. Remove from fridge and drain really well, DON'T RINSE, and lay out on plate to dry and come up to room temp.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large zip-lock plastic bag. Take gizzards and dredge them in flour mixture. toss them around with bag zip-locked making sure they are well coated. Leave them in bag and start your oil heating in skillet on MED/HI. When oil is really hot, (pinch off and test a small bit of coating from one of the gizzards) use a sieve or strainer to shake off excess flour mixture. One at a time ease the gizzards into the hot oil.

You might want to fry them in two batches so as not to overcrowd the skillet. Overcrowding lowers the oil temp and they do not fry as well. Cook until nice and brown on the outside, turning them as they cook. I like to put them on a rack and keep in a warm over for about 20 mins. I think this helps tenderize them. Get ready for some chewing, but it's good chewing!

Dipping Sauce
4 tbs mayo
4 tbs sour cream
1 tbs yellow mustard
1 tsp Tony Chachere's
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tsp smoky paprika (opt.)
1 tsp tabasco or Sambal Chili Sauce

Combine all ingredients and enjoy dipping your Gizzards. You might want to try my Jezebel Sauce Recipe with these as well. You can pressure cook your gizzards in water and spices, or par-boil them but I like them just fine like this. If you have a deep fryer, they will turn out great. Have fun making Gizzards, the good news is... THEY'RE CHEAP!!! Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Making Sausage Cornbread

I told you last time we would be doing Sausage Cornbread as a follow-up for my cornbread recipe, well here it is. My buddy and fellow banjo player Tucker McCandless loves this sausage cornbread, and I fix it every so often and take him some, his Mama Cassie likes it too. I am going to repeat my cornbread recipe so you don't have to keep scrolling around the blog looking for it. I do this in two different skillets, the reason is frying sausage seems to stick in my cast iron skillet, plus I like to keep it nice and slick for cornbread. I use quite a large skillet (11 in. across the top) and use whatever saute pan for the sausage and onions.

The sausage filling consists of...

1 lb country breakfast sausage (broken up)
1 med onion (diced)
8 - 10 leaves of fresh dried sage (rough chop)
4 green onions (sliced thin with green)
½ tsp red pepper flakes (opt)
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp black pepper

Crumble up the sausage and combine with all other ingredients into the saute pan and cook until sausage is done. Drain grease and set aside to cool.

Now for the Cornbread
2 cups yellow cornmeal (I like martha White)
1 tsp Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning
1 tsp parsley flakes
3 eggs
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
2 tbs oil (I like corn oil)
2 tbs bacon grease

Put bacon grease in a cast iron skillet, and place in a preheated 425º oven for 10 mins. Mix first 3 dry ingredients thoroughly in a bowl with a whisk. Mix next 3 wet ingredients in another bowl or big measuring cup. Combine wet and dry using whisk. Add sausage mixture and combine thoroughly.

Remove skillet from oven. Pour batter mix into melted, hot bacon grease and give the skillet a little shake to settle the mix. Bake for 15 mins. or so until top of the cornbread browns a little and you cap tap the top and feel it is solid. Tucker I hope your Mama dont see this or she'll do it better than me, you won't want mine anymore. I got this dish from my dearly departed Aunt Stella Yeary Burnette. She was one of the best cooks ever. I love her and miss her. She taught me a lot in her kitchen and when she'd come over to mine. This was my favorite of her specialties.