I often hear people say it’s hard to cook interesting food for one or just two, but for many years, I’ve found recipes and food ideas that work for any number of people. It’s really a matter of whether you’re willing to eat leftovers or if you can find a recipe easily cut in half. I recently wanted to add new techniques to make my cooking experience at home more fun, and I wanted to do more cooking with or for other people.
So, a couple of weeks ago, a friend and I started cooking together once a week, and I’ve found my inspiration to cook at home again. I mean cook, not just toss together easy things I’ve done before. My “rules” are pretty loose but the goal is to cook at least one thing I have never made— either through technique or unusual ingredients I don’t have on hand. (This gets me out to the markets or interesting food stores.) We pick ideas or recipes where we can determine our own amounts or easily adapt for two people or four, if we’re up for extras.
We’ve been successful so far with a great fennel/apple slaw paired with BBQ pork chops; lasagna Bolognese (no lasagna assembly since I was a kid!); and my favorite so far, Fried Chicken, recipe courtesy of The Chopping Block. I tried this dish when I worked a Chicken 101 class with Chef Lucio and I couldn’t believe how delicious AND easy the dish was. (I used to get tripped up over handling the leftover frying oil but you can strain it and reuse it, or just cool it completely and pour into a metal container before tossing.) I’ve also found the sauce to be truly delicious when the chicken is still warm and that cold leftovers were even better!
Buttermilk Fried Chicken Legs and Thighs
Yield: 4 servings
Active time: 35 minutes
Start to finish: 12 hours, 35 minutes (includes marinating in buttermilk)
4 chicken legs and thighs
2 cups buttermilk
Oil for frying
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Flour, for dredging
- Place the chicken legs and thighs in a sealable bag or a shallow dish and cover with buttermilk. Allow the chicken to marinate, refrigerated, for about 12 hours.
- Place about 1 1/2 inches of vegetable oil in a heavy, deep cast iron pot. (You need just enough oil to completely submerge chicken.) Heat oil, uncovered, over medium heat until it reaches 325º.
- While the oil is heating, remove the chicken from the buttermilk and place on a sheet tray.
- In a small bowl, mix together the salt, paprika, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Season both sides of the chicken with the salt and spice mixture.
- Dredge the chicken though the flour, shaking off any excess.
- Place the legs and thighs, skin side down, in the oil.
- Fry the chicken until the skin is golden brown and crisp, about 10-12 minutes. Flip and repeat. Continue to cook the chicken until it reads 165° on a meat thermometer.
- While the chicken is frying, set up a rack set over a sheet tray. Once the chicken is done, set it on the rack to rest. (You can keep the chicken warm in a 200° oven if needed.)
- Serve with Tabasco Honey Butter Sauce (recipe follows).
Tabasco Honey Butter Sauce
Yield: 1 cup
Active time: 10 minutes
Start to finish: 10 minutes
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon Tabasco, or more if desired
Salt to taste
- Place the butter in a saucepan and heat gently until melted.
- Whisk in the honey and lemon juice and add the Tabasco, to taste.
- Season with salt to taste and serve warm. u