Southern Birthday Dinner

southern dinner

For my boyfriend’s birthday this year, I decided to make him a southern meal (since he always talks about wanting fried chicken!). Having never been to the south and neither eaten a proper southern meal nor deep fried chicken before, this whole meal could have been a disaster. Surprisingly, most things were edible! 😛 The only real problem I had was the brine of the chicken which turned out to be way too salty. It was the first time I followed Cooks Illustrated’s recipe exactly and it didn’t turn out quite right. In fact, I’d half the amount of salt next time and I think it would be absolutely delicious.

hush puppies and mixed green salad

The appetizers were a mixed greens salad with goat cheese, candied pecans, toasted pumpkin seeds, and cranberries with a cherry vinaigrette dressing, accompanied by fresh corn, onion, and jalapeño hush puppies with a honey butter spread.

buttermilk fried chicken, red beans and rice

For the mains, I made buttermilk fried chicken (coated twice — which is key for crispiness), red beans and rice, and french green beans with parmesan.

For the red beans and rice, I used the following ingredients:
smoked pork neck, spicy Italian sausage (didn’t have andouille on hand), homemade chicken and veg stock, kidney beans, onion, celery, green bell peppers, garlic cloves, bay leaves, Thyme, Parsley, Garlic powder, Onion powder, Paprika, Cayenne, Red pepper flakes, Hot sauce, and Bacon grease.

I also perfected my stove top rice cooking method after I learned from my dad that he places his hand flat in the pot and fills the water up to his wrist. I’m sure there are variances in wrist height and how much rice you put in the pot (I think I used two cups of dry rice), but it came out with slightly chewy, individual grains of rice that were not mushy nor overcooked and did not stick or burn to the bottom of the pot. It was a miracle! 😛

key lime "pie"

For dessert, I made a key lime “pie,” in ramekins. It turned out pretty good considering I’ve never tasted a key lime pie in my entire life and it was a total crap shoot in the dark! 😛 Below is the recipe I concocted, which could use a little tweaking

14 oz sweetened condensed milk
Homemade graham cracker crust
1/4 C Buttermilk
1/2 T unsalted butter
6 oz key lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons key lime zest

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