I suspect this will be my next post, primarily because I have a photo for it. Mind you, it won’t be a very great photo but it will be nicely composed. Kris does the composing.
Being only my third post it miiiiiiiiight be a bit early to reminisce but I’m going to anyway.
I’ve toyed with the idea of a cooking blog for a long time and six months ago I started listing possible site names. After a page and a half of ideas I cut it down to Dinner? Again?, Sup w/ Paw Paw, or Reflections in a Skillet.
While I was working on this list I also started to list some “story starters” as my teaching colleagues would say – another page and a half. That’s what I’ve used for my first 15 or so articles. Unfortunately I didn’t think about photos so I’ll have to do them again. Lesson learned.
Reflection #1: This is also why some future pics may be a bit haphazard. I’m getting hungry and my food’s getting cold.
All of this is to get to a double topic. Neither of these was one of my story starters but I think they deserve to be mentioned now. Here I go.
My mother loved salt and I grew up with plenty of it She used salt when she cooked and then salted again at the table. That’s what I did, that’s what we all did in my family.
Kris and I decided early on that we should reduce salt. Kris has always done a much better job than I have but I’ve done pretty well. I don’t salt my pasta water (gasp), sauces (except gravy), or veggies while I’m cooking. I will add salt after serving myself and I feign smugness.
I’m often surprised by how much salt is used on TV cook shows. Some of their dishes seem use more salt than I will in a week. In contest shows the competitors are often chastised for not using enough salt. While I agree salt is wonderful flavor and a catalyst for other flavors, I’d rather ratchet it back some.
For the same reason I don’t brine. I tried doing two chicken breasts brined and two chicken breasts unbrined. Yes, the brined breasts were more moist and juicy but they were too salty for our taste.
I guess what I’m getting at is I’m okay (meh) but Kris is really good about salt.
Reflection #2: Soy sauce is my Achilles heel when it comes to salt. I use it in lots of things and often cook Chinese just so I have an excuse to use it.
There was always a blue can of white, fluffy cooking oil in Mom’s cabinet. It has many commercial names but it was what many cooks my age discovered was the secret to many of Mom’s recipes. It was an integral part of her pie dough and fried chicken among others. It has since been generally allocated to the “less desirable” category of ingredients. We’ve dropped hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils from our pantry. Other liquid oils work fine but it’s a bit trickier to cook with and my fried chicken never touches the memory of Mom’s.
Reflection #3: We do pretty well but bacon is my biggest downfall. Again, Kris shows a lot more restraint. Ah, me.
Chicken Fingers (for 2)
2 chicken breasts, about 1 lb
6 Tbs flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs Italian herbs
1 c milk
2 c bread crumbs
1 ½ c oil for frying
- Skin and debone the breasts and freeze the skin and bones for stock or buy skinless, boneless.
- Cut each breast lengthwise into equal widths. Lengths will vary but keep the thickness consistent. I usually get about 10. Sprinkle the Italian herbs over the strips.
- Set up a breading station. Combine the flour and salt in the first bowl, whisk the egg and milk in the next, and put the bread crumbs in the third.
- Heat the oil slowly while you complete the next part.
Reflection #4: Heating slowly is the key here. It allows you to control the temperature more carefully.
- Dredge several chicken fingers in the flour and lay them in the egg mix. I like shallow bowls so I can spread out 4 or 5 at a time.
- Working one at a time, coat a finger with egg, roll in the crumbs, back to the egg, and back to the crumbs one last time. Set aside.
- Repeat this process until all the pieces are done. Check the oil occasionally. When it reaches 350 degrees or when a pinch of crumbs bubbles moderately, turn it down or turn it off until you are ready to cook.
- Add 4 pieces or so. You don’t want to crowd them. It’ll take 10-12 minutes depending on the thickness. I turn it several times so I can control the browning.
Reflection #5: If you cut 10 pieces and you fry 4 at a time that leaves just 2 for the last pan. Turn the heat down or it will scorch before it’s done like mine did.
We dipped in a mayo/ranch combo or a favorite barbecue sauce.