Last week was my birthday week, and coupled with that-which-shall-not-be-named, I decided to make one of my favorite, and least often consumed meals: Fried Chicken and Mash, with Country Gravy. This is definitely a special occasion recipe, but in the light of present times, and it being my birthday, I felt a treat was in order. Instead of going with traditional fried chicken, I decided to mix it up a bit with a twist on the Southern classic, Chicken Fried Steak. Chicken Fried Chicken is something I occasionally ordered while dining out at various country style restaurants back in Texas. It’s a very comforting meal and very nostalgic for me. This recipe requires a bit of prep work, but it is absolutely scrumptious!
For the Chicken:
2 chicken breasts, pounded down to 1/2 to 1/4 in thick
2 cups AP flour
1/4 cup fresh thyme, stems removed and rough chopped
1/4 cup fresh oregano, stems removed and fine chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp seasoned salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp Tony Chachere’s, or to taste
1 tsp cracked black peppercorns
1/2 tsp Spanish or smoked paprika
1 tsp Italian seasoning herb blend
2 cups milk
1 tbsp Crystal hot sauce, or to taste
2 – 3 cups peanut oil
For the Mash
3 – 4 red potatoes, washed, skin left on (or peel, if you prefer)
2 cloves black garlic, optional
1 tbsp vegetable Better than Bouillon
1/4 cup Ranch dressing
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup whole milk, or as needed
For the Country Gravy
2 cups whole milk
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp AP flour
salt to taste
generous amount of cracked black peppercorn
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep a baking sheet by placing a wire baking rack on top of it and set aside.
Place the red potatoes in a med soup pot and cover with tap water. Add in the black garlic, if using. Bring up to a boil over high flame. Add in the vegetable BTB and stir until dissolved. Cover and reduce flame to low. Boil until the potatoes are fork tender, 20 – 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large casserole dish, combine the flour, thyme, oregano, seasoned salt, Tony Chachere’s, garlic/onion powder, paprika, Italian herb blend, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg, milk, and hot sauce. Place the pounded chicken breast into the milk mixture and submerge. (Note: this step can be done in advance 30 minutes, one hour, or the night before you plan to fry the chicken, if desired.)
Preheat a cast iron skillet over high flame. Once the skillet is smoking hot, add in the peanut oil (about 2″ worth) and reduce flame to med high.
While the oil heats up, remove the chicken breast, one at a time, from the milk mixture and allow much of the liquid to drip off. Transfer to the seasoned flour and dredge the chicken in the flour on all sides until well coated.
Once the oil is shimmering, carefully place the breaded chicken breast into the hot oil. Fry the chicken about 10 – 15 minutes, flip, and repeat until the chicken is golden brown on all sides. Transfer the chicken to the wire baking rack. Repeat with the second chicken breast. Transfer both the fried chicken breast to the oven and turn off the heat. (Note: chicken breast should be cooked until an internal temperature of 165 degrees is reached.)
In the same skillet, discard all but 1 tbsp of the oil. Reduce the flame to low and add in the tbsp of AP flour, stirring until well combined. Slowly pour in the whole milk and allow it to come to a simmer. Once simmering, add in salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Increase the flame to med, and continue cooking until the milk has thickened into a gravy, stirring constantly. Once the gravy reaches the consistency you like, turn off the heat. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
To finish, mash the potatoes with the Ranch dressing, milk, and butter, adding more milk as needed until the mash is smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve immediately with the Chicken Fried Chicken and Country Gravy.
Garnish: sliced green scallion