Southern Fried Chicken and Ranch Potato Salad

Southern Fried Chicken and Ranch Potato SaladFiddlin’ Around
Every year for the last nine years we have spent Father’s Day in Grass Valley. Why, you may ask? Well, if it’s Father’s Day in Grass Valley it means that the Bluegrass Festival is being held at the Fairgrounds. Both my daughter and husband are bluegrass musicians (or at least they are working real hard at it). We will go this weekend so that they can be with their own kind and jam.

The festival is three days of non-stop pickin’ and fiddlin’ and I do mean non-stop. Most of the attendees spend the weekend camping at the Fairgrounds in their tents and/or RVs. But if you thought you would be able to get sleep at night you would be wrong. Once the “main” concert shuts down for the night the ”real” concert begins in the campgrounds, and it goes into the wee hours of the morning if it stops at all.

While there are headaches (literally) involved with going up there, the music is great and we generally have a good time. There are some great vendors there, which for the non-picking members of the audience is awesome. There is a lovely lady who sells hand-made jams, preserves, and vintage aprons in her booth. I make certain to get an apron each year to add to my collection. If I had one complaint (okay, so there might be more than one), it would be the food.

It is unreasonable to expect Thomas Keller five star dining at a music festival, but I would settle for something a little bit north of edible. Maybe I’m being harsh. Maybe. I love burgers and burritos as much as the next guy, but one can live on burgers for only so long. (Wait. Was that my outside voice?)

Each year we have the conversation about how we would improve or add to the food. The possibilities have ranged from healthy bento-type boxes for the kids, to giant fresh salads, to some serious BBQ Ribs. The best idea might be the Picnic Basket Booth. It would offer the kind fare to take on a country picnic: fried chicken, fresh potato and macaroni salads, corn bread and biscuits, fruit hand pies, and a big jug of iced tea. Of course, you could just go wacky and add on a three bean salad and some homemade dill pickles….grilled corn? The possibilities are endless, and they are the perfect accompaniment to the music. (Bluegrass and fried chicken? We got ourselves a hootenanny boys!)

Who knows? We may get there Friday night and be pleasantly surprised but I’m not holding my breath. In the meantime, try my favorite recipe for Southern Fried Chicken and Ranch Potato Salad for Dad this weekend, and let me know if it’s got booth potential… 

Southern Fried Chicken
Adapted from The Lady & Sons Cookbook by Paula Deen
Yields 4 Servings
“My Grandmother Paul always said to season chicken and return it to the refrigerator and let it sit as long as time permits, at least 2 to 3 hours. At the restaurant, we season ours with House Seasoning and Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. Always use small chickens. I find that a Dutch oven works best for frying chicken.” (from Paula Deen)

House Seasoning
3 eggs
1/3 cup water
2 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon pepper
2 1/2 pounds of chicken pieces
Crisco shortening for frying

Make the House Seasoning
This is great to have handy stored in a shaker, on your countertop.

Mix well together: 1 cup salt, 1/4 cup black pepper, and 1/4 cup garlic powder.

Do in advance
Do this at least 2 to 3 hours in advance. It’s best left to sit in the fridge overnight.
Season the chicken with your home-made house seasoning.

Prep the Chicken
Beat the eggs with water. Add the teaspoon of black pepper to the 2 cups of self-rising flour. Dip your seasoned chicken into egg, and coat it well in the flour mixture.

Fry in moderately hot shortening (350°) until brown and crisp. There is different cooking times for dark and light meat: about 13 to 14 minutes for dark meat, and 8 to 10 minutes for white meat.

Ranch Potato Salad
Adapted from The Cooks Country Cookbook
Yields 6 to 8 servings
We prefer the flavor of white wine vinegar to the distilled white vinegar that is often used.

3 pounds red potatoes. peeled and cut into 3/4 -Inch chunks
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers (can be from a jar)
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 finely chopped scallions
1 minced garlic clove
1 teaspoon fresh dill
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

Place the potatoes in a pot, add 1 tablespoon salt, and cover by 1 inch. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are just tender (about 10 minutes).

While the potatoes simmer, whisk the mayonnaise, buttermilk, 2 tablespoons of the vinegar, the red peppers, cilantro, scallions, garlic, dill, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper in a large bowl.

Drain the potatoes, then spread them in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Whisk the mustard and the remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar in a small bowl. Drizzle the mustard mixture over the hot potatoes and toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate the potatoes until cooled, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the cooled potatoes to a bowl with the mayonnaise mixture and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled (about 30 minutes). Serve.

The salad can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

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