The Challenge: Day Three, Part Two

So far for The Challenge, we’d done an Asian-inspired menu and a midwestern/comfort food menu. For day three, I thought a nice Southern meal would be in order: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, cornbread, greens, corn on the cob, and fresh fruit. I took off to Costco to pick up a package of chicken legs, as that’s my favorite piece of the chicken when it’s fried. My mom’s too. In addition, roasting up a couple of legs and throwing them into the mix with the chicken carcasses waiting patiently in the freezer plus some vegetables makes a damn fine stock.

Once back, I poured some more formula down the tube, and not half an hour later realized that I would not, in fact, be able to eat dinner. Nor would I be able to prepare it. My only thought about that time was that it would be a fine thing indeed to crawl under a rock and die to get the pain to subside. Instead, I gave the menu over to my mom and she agreed to stand in for me – a very good thing, since one of my sisters and her boyfriend had agreed to come over for dinner.

Boots kept me company while I spelled out the menu and sat in the recliner thinking about heart attacks, death, and other assorted cheery things.

My mom got right into the kitchen and started rattling some pots and pans. The first thing that had to be started was a soak of the chicken in some buttermilk for a couple of hours. This is classic Southern preparation of fried chicken, and always the way I prepare it.

She broke out her favorite – and she swears, the best – recipe she had for cornbread. Or, in this case, johnny cakes. One sign that you’re looking at someone’s well-loved cookbook is the presence of handwritten notes in the margins.

Thoe ingredients were prepped and waiting their turn.

A few ears of corn on the cob were shucked, and the potatoes peeled, cut, and put on the boil.

It was then time to rescue the chicken from its swim. The oil was heating, and the chicken was pulled from the buttermilk, tossed with some spices, and then dredged in flour.

From there, the chicken went into the oil, which was now nicely heated to 350 degrees.

After about 15 minutes or so, the cast iron skillet went into the oven with a bit of oil to heat for the cornbread mix. Once out, the batter was turned out into the pan, where the edges started immediately sizzling.

Things were coming along nicely, including the chicken.

And finally, dinner was served.

The diners enjoyed it quite a lot, as you can see from the before and after pictures.

I wish I hadn’t been struck by the gastro gremlins. It’s been a long time since I had real fried chicken.

So, what’s our breakdown?

Chicken legs – 0.28 x 5 = 1.41
Chicken breasts (boneless, skinless) – 1.325 each x 2 = 2.65
Corn – 1.00
Cornbread – .80
Beans – leftover from day one = 0
Potatoes – 1.00
Fruit (mixture of watermelon, canteloupe, peaches, grapes) – .60
Tomatoes – .20
Buttermilk – 1.00

Total this meal: 8.66
Total per diner (4): 2.17

There were some leftovers, which were eaten by my mom and by one of the boyfriends, who received a doggie bag as he was not in attendance.

The meal looked delicious. Too bad I missed out on it.

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