It's about to get Western...around here tonight...
Actually, it already got western, we welcomed the annual Reno Rodeo to town a couple weeks ago and I managed to make it out to the arena 3 times during the 10 day run. My son thoroughly enjoyed his first rodeo and why not? It's been some time since I harped on it but I tellya folks, for pure family entertainment, with a large dose of patriotism on the side, you're hard pressed to survey the American sports scene and find anything to equal a good rodeo. Where else do you get the Star Spangled Banner along with John Wayne's "America, Why I Love Her", and get this....an honest to God prayer. Try that at a WNBA game and you'll have a team of ACLU attorneys crawling so far up the league's backside, it would take the switchboard operator a month to get an outside line for long distance. Rodeo on the other hand is like a silver cross to a vampire. Hell if an ACLU type even showed up, he'd probably be first out of the chute and run down by some steer wrestler from San Angelo, TX. But don't feel too bad for the poor fella, he gave that cowboy a record run, ACLU attorneys not being known for fleetness of foot.
Ok, admin details. We're done with schoolin' for a few weeks so we're gonna get caught up around here. First off that means recipes. I know some of y'all are waiting for the latest keen insights on the political scene. Keep your britches on, the election is still 16 months away. So lets get some recipes out there now and the rest will fall into place. After all, only serious political junkies are paying attention to the 2008 election at this point. Of those who are paying attention, you can discount half of them since you can't take democrats seriously anyway. At least I'd hope not, but I've seen some disturbing signs among friends of mine, behind enemy lines in the People's Republic of California. I mean you think you know some folks after 30 years but then they spring something on you like "Obama is intriguing"...what the hell? Intriguing like a case of genital warts? So with that kind of disturbance in the sphere of Smilin' Paul's friends, I'm trying to write it off as a case of summer fever. We'll revisit that topic only if truly needed.
In any event sports fans, summer is here and the 231st anniversary of our Nation's birth is just a couple days away. When I was a kid, the 4th of July was always my favorite holiday. Mostly because it meant fireworks and patriotic displays, parades without alternative lifestyle floats and of course good chow. I mean after all, when your momma is a Mexican from Texas, you can't help but eat good. Speaking of women in the family who can cook, my sister Cris was always pretty darn good in the kitchen her ownself. Over the years, Cris and I have had many a good discussion on various recipes. Now one thing we both agree on is that nothing screams summer like good ol' fried chicken. Cris has her own recipe and me? Well I shamelessly stole mine from that most famous of Georgia Peaches, Ms. Paula Deen. I've thrown down some fried yard strutter in my time and this is absolutely the best. Like Larry "Bull" Smith always says, it's so good it'll make you slap your grandma..."
I like to make at least a dozen pieces and this recipe will crank out 18 if you want to go that high. Usually I just cook thighs and legs since we like dark meat around these parts but you can easily use breasts here too.
Make up a batch of Paula's Deen's house seasoning. I use this stuff for everything from chicken to chops and even catfish. It's hard to beat for versatility.
1/2 cup of salt
1/8 cup of black pepper
1/8 cup garlic powder
Shake it all together.
Sprinkle the seasoning generously over your chicken pieces and place them into resealable plastic bags for at least 6 hours, overnight is even better.
2 cups of all purpose flour
1/3 cup of whole milk
I use an old jelly jar to store the seasoning and keep it right near the stove.
Early in the moring you're going to cook, or even the night before, liberally season the chicken with the house seasoning, place it in resealable plastic bags and store in the refrigerator.
When you're ready to cook. Get out a good stock pot, I use my stainless steel one myself. Pour about two inches of vegetable oil into it. Now let me suggest here that you get a candy thermometer, it will save you a lot of heartache and never fails to turn out perfect chicken. I turn the burner onto medium high and let it go. I want the thermometer to read about 375 degrees before I put in my chicken. While you're waiting on the oil to come to temp, get your batter ready.
1/3 cup whole milk
Lightly beat this mixture.
Take the 2 cups of all purpose flour and pour it into another resealable bag. I usually add a generous shake of the house seasoning to the flour but it isn't necessary. Now take a piece of chicken and dip it into the egg batter, then place it in your bag with the flour. I usually get four to six pieces of chicken in there at a time. Seal the bag and shake it to coat each piece. Now once the oil has come to 375 degrees, place the chicken into the oil, CAREFULLY, one piece at a time. The temp of the oil is going to come way down. I usually wait until the temp has come back up to about 360 degrees and then I pull the chicken out and drain it on paper bags. Of course with legs and thighs, it takes a bit of time, even deep frying but my rule of thumb is that they are done when golden brown and have been in the oil for at least 15 and usually closer to twenty minutes. You can always take a piece out, chop it in half and make sure the meat is uniformly white and that the juices run clear. Then you know it's done.
Now during the summer, I like to serve up my fried chicken with Pancho's Po' Salad, corn on the cob and buttermilk biscuits. In the winter, you just substitute masked potatoes for the potato salad. The biscuits stay. How about a picture or two of this wonderful chicken?
Smilin' Paul Villa U.S. Senate 2010
Proud Member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy and 2 SUV Family