Posts Tagged With: Southern cuisine

348/365: National Biscuits & Gravy Day*

Today’s food holiday celebrates a hearty breakfast duo. Bacon and eggs? Nah. Pancakes and sausage? Guess again. December 14 is National Biscuits & Gravy Day!

It’s also National Bouillabaisse Day. This one-pot fisherman’s stew that originated in France sounds satisfying, but we didn’t feel like going to the trouble (and expense) of making it or ordering from a restaurant. No need to knock ourselves out with just a couple of weeks left, right?

Biscuits and gravy are two distinct foods that are delicious on their own. But together, they take on splendid new flavors! Kind of like what happens when you mix peanut butter and chocolate…only much more savory. They consist of soft dough biscuits covered in a thick “country” or “white” gravy that usually includes pan drippings, flour, milk, and crumbled sausage. It is often seasoned with black pepper and sometimes called “sawmill” gravy. The dish originated in the American South following the Revolutionary War. At that time food was in short supply, and breakfast was usually the most substantial meal of the day, providing energy for a long, hard day of work on the plantations. Because pigs were a popular and cheap source of livestock, sausage became a key ingredient. This filling morning meal was enough to get people ready for a busy day ahead.

We stopped by our favorite neighborhood mom ‘n pop restaurant for breakfast this morning, and shared some biscuits and gravy. Bonus points for this meal: it’s perfect hangover food!

National Biscuits & Gravy Day

Categories: Breakfast | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

187/365: National Fried Chicken Day

Some people like breasts. Others prefer legs. I’m a thigh man myself. Before you call me a pervert, relax – I’m talking about today’s food holiday. July 6 is National Fried Chicken Day!

Fried foods have existed since the Middle Ages, when they were known as fritters. Almost anything was breaded and fried back then, including meat, seafood, and fruit (but sadly, Twinkies wouldn’t hit the deep fryer for another 500 years or so). The Scottish traditionally deep fried chicken, whereas their European counterparts were more likely to bake or boil theirs. When Scots immigrated to America and settled in the southern U.S., they brought along their favorite fried chicken recipes. African slaves who worked as cooks took a liking to fried chicken, mainly because plantation owners allowed them to raise chickens, which were cheap and plentiful. They added their own spices and seasonings to “kick it up a notch,” as Emeril is fond of saying, and fried chicken soon became a Southern staple, often served on special occasions. The invention of the cast iron skillet and the growing use of lard as a byproduct of hog rendering plants helped spread the popularity of the dish.

In 1930, a service station owner in Corbin, Kentucky named Harlan Sanders began cooking and serving fried chicken, ham, and steaks for his customers. His dishes became so popular he opened a restaurant in a nearby motel and, over the next several years, perfected his “secret recipe” for frying chicken in a pressure fryer, with a blend of 11 herbs and spices. In 1949 his friend, the Governor of Kentucky, recommissioned him as a “Kentucky Colonel” and soon after he began wearing his distinctive trademark white suit and string tie, and grew a mustache and goatee which he dyed white to match his hair. Quite a fella, the Colonel, but it’s hard to argue with success: in 1952 he franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken and became a very rich man. KFC was instrumental in helping to launch fast food fried chicken chains.

In honor of the holiday, I wanted to make my own fried chicken. I have a recipe that’s both tried and true and tastes excellent. But we were on the go all day today, hiking up near Mount St. Helens. We got home late in the afternoon and didn’t feel like going to all the trouble of making from-scratch chicken…not when there was a Popeye’s a few miles away willing to do all the dirty work for us! I guess we should have opted for KFC since I wrote about them here, but I’ve long thought Popeye’s serves better chicken.

National Fried Chicken Day

Categories: Poultry | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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