pecan chicken with bourbon maple cream sauce.

I’m kind of particular about chicken. If you know me, you’d probably say I was pretty particular about a lot of specific things, but chicken is a biggie. I don’t like chicken on the bone, or with skin. I don’t like dark meat. I don’t like fried chicken… wait, I’m Southern through and through, and I don’t like fried chicken? Nope. I can almost pinpoint this dislike to having fried chicken at tailgates, and using paper napkins, and having little pieces of paper stick to my hands. I think it has ruined me for life. (I’m pretty sure my disdain for boned chicken involves the kid that sat across from me at the lunch table in the third grade and ATE chicken leg bones. I’ll never get over it.)

As such, I have never fried chicken. I’m actually not much of a fryer in general, but I’ve gone out on a limb a time or two. My mom never fried much growing up, and it was just not ever something I had a taste for. My husband, on the other hand, grew up with fried everything – he’s a Pee Dee boy, after all. Fry it or barbeque it, and that’s about all you need in life. Needless to say, when he came home from work late one  Friday night recently and I was about to start frying some chicken, he about died. It may have been the greatest day of his life, and it was indeed one of my culinary crowning achievements. I was so proud of this dish, and I talked about it for weeks afterwards.

Make it. It’s not an every week sort of dish but it’s well worth the effort.

pecan chicken with bourbon maple cream sauce.

pecan chicken with bourbon maple cream sauce.
via Spicy Southern Kitchen.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup buttermilk
Vegetable oil
¾ cup pecan halves, chopped finely
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Bourbon Maple Cream Sauce
3 bacon slices, chopped
¼ cup chopped shallots
2½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
⅓ cup maple syrup
¼ cup whole grain Creole mustard
¼ cup bourbon
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1½ cups heavy cream

Pecan Chicken.

Combine chicken and buttermilk in a large zip-top bag and place in refrigerator for 4-6 hours, or overnight.

Pour 1 inch of Vegetable oil in a large, deep skillet or sauté pan. Heat oil to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, pecans and 2 teaspoons of salt in a shallow pie plate. Remove chicken from buttermilk and dredge chicken in pecan-flour mixture, turning to coat both sides well.

Fry in oil 10-12 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Place on wire rack to drain off oil. Keep warm.

Bourbon Maple Cream Sauce.

Cook bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat until crispy. Remove to paper towel-lined plate to cool.

Add shallots to bacon drippings and sauté over medium heat for 2 minutes. Stir in flour and cook, stirring continuously for 2 minutes. Whisk in maple syrup, mustards, boubon salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
Gradually whisk in cream. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently for 5 to 8 minutes, or until thickened. If too thick, thin with a little milk.

To serve, top chicken with gravy and sprinkle with bacon crumbles.

And now I want to make this again,
jcristg

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Pimento Cheese and Bacon Jalapeño Poppers

If you like jalapeno poppers, you are going to pass out when you see this recipe.

Pimento Cheese and Bacon Jalapeño Poppers

They came to be a few weekends back, when I was in South Carolina visiting Crist. We were spending the weekend at the beach, and the weather was predicted to be bringing some nasty storms – so we limited our plans to hitting the grocery store early, and then staying in and drinking and eating and watching crappy TV and movies all day (Mystic Pizza, anyone?). The rain never did come, but our plan to eat, drink, and be merry held fast, and we spent some time brainstorming deliciously unhealthy things to cook… and this is the result.

Pimento Cheese and Bacon Jalapeño Poppers

Pimento Cheese and Bacon Jalapeño Poppers
makes 16

8 large, fresh jalapeños
6 slices of bacon
about 3/4 cup pimento cheese*
1/2 cup all purpose flour
salt and pepper
2 eggs
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
olive oil

*If you do not live in an area where pimento cheese is readily available at the grocery store (ahem, MICHIGAN), you can use Crist’s recipe here.

1.) Start by cooking your bacon until crisp, in whatever fashion you prefer (microwave, stovetop, oven, etc). Allow the bacon to drain any excess fat on some paper towels, and preheat your oven to 375°.

Pimento Cheese and Bacon Jalapeño Poppers

2.) Cut the stems from the jalapeños, and then slice them in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the ribs and seeds, and be sure to wash your hands very well when you’re done (and dear god, do not touch your eyes or your face or anything else before your hands are thoroughly washed).

3.) Chop your crispy bacon into small pieces. Add the pimento cheese and bacon to a small bowl, and combine well. Spread the cheese and bacon mixture into the jalapeños halves, and then pop them into the freezer for about 15 minutes so they harden up a bit.

Pimento Cheese and Bacon Jalapeño Poppers

4.) While the poppers chill, set up a breading station: flour (whisked together with a pinch each of salt and pepper) in one wide, shallow bowl, eggs (well beaten) in a second, and panko in a third. Coat the poppers in the flour, then egg, then panko – being sure to tap off any excess flour and egg, and pressing the panko into the poppers so that it sticks well.

5.) Arrange the jalapeños on a foil-lined baking sheet, and lightly mist or drizzle them with the olive oil. Bake for about 20 minutes, until they’re nice and brown and crispy. Serve warm.

Pimento Cheese and Bacon Jalapeño Poppers

I mean… there is not much that can be said about these jalapeño poppers, really. Spicy, crunchy jalapeños stuffed with gooey pimento cheese and salty, smoky bacon, and coated in golden brown panko? SIGN ME UP. Damn, they were tasty. I would like one (or a half dozen) right now, as a matter of fact.

This recipe will definitely be added to my “go to appetizers” list. I love that they could be largely prepped ahead of time (seed and stuff the peppers with the cheese and bacon, then refrigerate, covered, for as long as 24 hours; bread them and bake them when you need them). And who doesn’t love a cheesy, crunchy jalapeño popper?? They’re sure to be a hit with everyone you know.

Pimento Cheese and Bacon Jalapeño Poppers

They’re healthy because they’re basically just stuffed vegetables,
Tina

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

Sometimes, you just need to fry something. And in the case of this particular week? That something was chicken. Not your traditional bone-in, skin-on chicken – but a well-breaded chicken cutlet, just the right size to plop into the middle of a honey-ed, hot-sauced-ed, delightfully buttery biscuit. Don’t get me wrong, the whole thing was a little involved for a Tuesday night… but despite having a lot of steps and about a million dirtied bowls and utensils, making these fried chicken biscuits doesn’t take ALL that long – and regardless, they’re totally worth it!

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce
makes 8 sandwiches

For the chicken:
8 chicken cutlets*
2 c buttermilk, divided
1 T hot sauce (I prefer Frank’s Red Hot)
1.5 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 tsp black pepper, divided
0.75 tsp cayenne pepper, divided
1 clove of garlic, smashed
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
vegetable or peanut oil, for frying

For the biscuits:
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
0.25 tsp baking soda
0.5 tsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
12 T cold butter, cut into cubes
1 cup cold, well-shaken buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten well

For the sandwiches:
butter
hot sauce
honey

*you want the chicken to be about 2 pounds total. I like to buy the “thin sliced” chicken breast at Trader Joe’s, but you can also take regular chicken breasts and butterfly them (some of those things are monsters, and you’d be able to get 3 thin pieces out of each breast). I have another dish planned for later in the week that requires chopped up chicken breast, so I also trimmed a couple inches off the end of each piece of chicken, so they’d be ever so slightly more biscuit-sized, rather than having 4″ of chicken hanging off the side. Proceed as you see fit.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

1.) In a large ziploc bag, combine one cup of buttermilk, one tablespoon of hot sauce, half a teaspoon each of kosher salt and pepper, one quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and the crushed garlic. Add the chicken, squeeze the excess air from the bag, seal it, and move everything around until the chicken is coated well. At this point, you can let the chicken marinate in the fridge for a couple hours (up to 8); or, if you’re short on time, just leave the chicken in the marinade while you prep and bake the biscuits.

2.) While the chicken marinates, let’s make some biscuits. Preheat your oven to 400°. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Use a pastry blender (or two knives) to cut the cold butter into the flour mixture, until the mixture looks like coarse meal, with some pea-sized bits of butter. Pour the buttermilk over the flour and butter mixture, and use a fork to gently mix everything together until everything is just moistened. (If you require more detailed instructions on making biscuits, see this post.)

3.) Lightly flour your countertop, and pile the dough together. Use your hands to VERY briefly knead the biscuit dough until it forms a somewhat cohesive lump, then pat it out into a circle about 3/4″ tall. (Keep in mind: with biscuits you want to handle the dough as LITTLE as possible, so it stays cold, and gluten doesn’t have a chance to form – so, work quickly, and with light hands!)

Buttermilk Biscuits

4.) Use a 2.5″ biscuit cutter to cut rounds from the dough. Re-roll scraps once, and cut more biscuits. Place the biscuits on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet, brush the tops with the beaten egg, and bake for about 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown.

5.) While the biscuits bake, you can work on your chicken! Place a large skillet (preferably cast-iron, 10-12″) over heat set at slightly above medium. Fill the skillet with oil to about 1/2″ depth; it will take about 10-15 minutes to come up to temp for frying.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

6.) Set up your breading station for the chicken. Set out two shallow bowls; in one, pour one cup of buttermilk, and in the other, whisk together a cup and a half of flour, one teaspoon each of kosher salt, garlic powder, and onion powder, and half a teaspoon each of black pepper and cayenne pepper.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

7.) Remove the chicken from the marinade, and let any excess buttermilk drip off. Immediately dredge each piece in the seasoned flour, being sure to coat them well. Then, dip each piece back into the buttermilk, and then back into the flour, for a second coating. This double coating of buttermilk and seasoned flour is what helps give the chicken a nice, crispy coating, without any skin!

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

8.) When all your chicken is breaded and ready to fry, your oil should be ready. You can use a candy thermometer to check the temperature – it should be about 360°. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, throw some panko bread crumbs or a small piece of bread into the oil – it should bubble pretty vigorously around the bread, and take a minute or so to turn golden brown.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

9.) Add the chicken, a couple pieces at a time, to the pan (being sure to lay them into the oil so that the last end to go in faces away from you, in case of splattering). Be sure not to overcrowd the pan; I like to fry 2-3 pieces at a time. Fry for 3-4 minutes per side, until they’re golden brown. Once they’re done cooking, remove them to a baking sheet lined with foil, paper-towel, and a baking rack; this will allow them to drain any excess oil (and can be thrown into a 200° oven to keep warm while you finish frying, if needed).

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

10.) When your biscuits are baked and your chicken is fried, it’s time for sandwich assembly. Split each biscuit in half, and spread both sides with butter and hot sauce (as much or as little as you like). Add a piece of chicken to each biscuit, drizzle it with honey, then add the top of the biscuit. Serve immediately.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

I mean… what really needs to be said here? Do I really need to convince you that a buttery, flaky biscuit topped with hot, crispy chicken, and dripping with honey and hot sauce, will be amazingly delicious? If you need convincing, then I am not sure we should be friends, quite frankly.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

Yeah, these sandwiches are awesome. Really, really awesome. The buttermilk marinade keeps the chicken super moist, and the double-dip in very well seasoned flour gives the coating a great amount of flavor and spice. Add in the acidic edge of hot sauce, the subtle sweetness of the honey, the buttery richness of the biscuit… what I’m saying is, it’s a damn good thing I hate to fry stuff, or I’d be making these daily, and then I’d need much, much larger pants. It would probably be worth it.

When I find a foolproof method to remove the fried smell from your house, I’ll let you know,
Tina

hot savannah crab dip.

Are you a Paula Deen fan, or a hater? I find most people tend to feel strongly one way or the other, though I’m not as big of a hater as I once was. Once you get past her put-on accent, she really does have some great recipes to try — not that you’d want to make them every day, lest you find yourself 400 pounds. I’m just saying, I tend to save her recipes for parties or special occasions, or even tailgates. Girl knows what she’s doing in a kitchen, that’s for sure.

There’s nothing worse than planning an elaborate holiday meal, and then realizing that people might want a little appetizer while you finish everything up. But then, who wants to spend a lot of time on something ELSE? No one, that’s who. Let me tell you – this dip will save your Christmas Eve and you’ll once again look like the culinary genius that you are. No one has to know it’s easy as pie.

Hot Savannah Crab Dip.
Paula Deen

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
5-6 roasted garlic cloves or 2 cloves minced
1/4 cup green onions, minced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated pepper jack cheese
1 lb jumbo lump crabmeat, free of shells
1 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp dry mustard
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375.

Toss pepper jack with the crab. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Pour into a greased casserole dish and bake 40 minutes.

I took the leftovers to my parents this past weekend, and my dad reports this is delicious both hot and cold. Though the thought of eating it straight out of the fridge makes me cringe a little bit, you may like it too. Suit yourself!

Ho ho ho, Christmas is comin’…
jcristg