Chicken Fried Chicken with White Country Gravy

At the end of June, the bf and I embarked on a little cross-country vacation. I flew from LA to my hometown of NYC with my pup while the bf drove from LA to meet us in NYC. We spent about a week in NY and then after a one day trip to Boston, headed to his hometown of St. Louis. While I was home in NYC I ate at a lot of the same places I used to, hot dogs and cheese fries at Nathan’s in Coney Island, a meal at my favorite restaurant Southern Hospitality, bagels, pizza, the usual. Before we left for the trip I did some research into food chains that weren’t in NYC or LA but may be on our route. I found a couple I wanted to try and made bf promise that we’d go.

The two main places I wanted to go were Sonic and Cracker Barrel. We get Sonic commercials here in LA even though the closest one is like 25 miles away or something crazy. The food itself wasn’t anything to write home about but their shakes are insanely good. I got a chocolate covered strawberry the first time and strawberry cheesecake the second. I love strawberry. While Sonic was nothing special, Cracker Barrel on the other hand was AMAZING!! I love country style cooking so I was insanely excited when we finally went. I got the chicken fried chicken (I’m not a huge fan of chicken fried steak mainly because I like my steaks thick) and it came with three sides so I got corn, green beans and mashed potatoes. When the waitress asked what kind of gravy I wanted on my potatoes I chose white gravy. Mainly because I never really had it before but I had heard wonderful things. And it was absolutely wonderful.

Ever since I’ve been craving a re-creation of that meal. Once I got home and settled I decided I would just make it myself. I didn’t find any satisfactory recipes on my go to, the Food Network website so I just Googled chicken fried chicken and white gravy. Chicken fried chicken is incredibly easy; its basically a chicken cutlet breaded with flour instead of breadcrumbs. You just have to pound the chicken breast really thin. I think next time I make it, I may add a little Panko or breadcrumbs just to give the coating a little crunch. But it was still great. The gravy on the other hand was a bit of a challenge. Thank god I told bf to get the gallon of milk. When I tried to follow one recipe I found and make it in the same pan I made the chicken in, it didn’t work. I don’t know if there was too much grease or not enough but it just tasted like flour and wasn’t that pure white I was looking for. So I went back to the internet and found another recipe that makes it on the stove top. It makes a lot so be prepared to have some leftover for another few meals. You could probably freeze it; I have it refrigerated right now. When you reheat it, just add milk to thin it out again. You can find the gravy recipe here.

Now, since this is a typical southern country meal, I knew it needed some typical country sides. I served my chicken with mashed potatoes, corn and macaroni and cheese. You can find the recipe for the mashed potatoes and mac and cheese here on my blog. The corn was just frozen corn, nothing special to prepare there. I only made two chicken breasts but you can make however many you need. That being said, here are the recipes!

Chicken Fried Chicken
boneless skinless chicken breasts
flour to dredge (about 1/2 cup)
salt, garlic powder and poultry seasoning to season flour
1 egg
oil for frying

Pound breasts to flatten. You want them about 1/4 inch thick. Season flour with spices. Crack egg in a separate container; beat with a fork.

Dredge chicken in egg, then flour mixture then egg again. Heat oil in pan on medium heat. Don’t make it too high or your oil will get too hot and your breading will burn.

Add chicken to heated oil. Cook until golden brown on each side, about 8 minutes total.

Remove and place on paper towel to drain excess oil

White Country Gravy
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat.

Add flour, Stir until smooth and bubble. Add salt and pepper

Add milk and bring to medium heat, whisking constantly. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Let boil for one minute.

chicken fried chicken

Chicken covered in white gravy!

chicken meal with gravy

Full meal: chicken, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and corn!

Simple Strawberry Shortcake

It’s summer! I love summer and more importantly I love summer fruit! Strawberries are my absolute favorite fruit of all time hand’s down, no question about it. They are one of the most universal dessert fruits really. There isn’t much you can’t do with a strawberry. They’re good on their own, with any kind of cake, topping or dipping sauce. God, how can one fruit be so bloody amazing?

I really love strawberry shortcake by the way. There is something perfect about the combination of strawberries, vanilla cake and whipped cream that is just so perfect. I usually order it for dessert at a restaurant unless I’m craving chocolate cake. I just impulsively decided that I really wanted a strawberry shortcake. I looked through my recipes and discovered I had saved a bunch of recipes but I really just decided I wanted to create my own cake. Really, its that I was lazy and didn’t want to bake an entire cake from scratch and boxed cake was the way to go.

When I got to the grocery store I was faced with a few decisions to make, namely what kind of cake mix to buy. I knew yellow cake wasn’t going to work with the recipe because it had too distinct of a flavor. So that left me with either French vanilla or white cake. I couldn’t make a decision so I bought both and figured I’d decide when I got home. French vanilla won mainly because white cake requires egg whites and again, I was lazy. I also like the subtle taste of vanilla in my cake so I think that also influenced my decision.

Box cake mix is really where the simple part of where this cake comes from. I also had one other shortcut, whipped topping. I find its a better binder in the center of the cake than homemade whipped cream. But the homemade whipped cream is perfect for frosting the outside of the cake. As far as the strawberries are concerned, you could just slice them and fill the cake but they are so much better if you macerate them. Macerate means to soften or break up. It just really enhances the strawberry flavor and if you use strawberries that are close to but not entirely ripe, macerating them will really bring out the strawberry flavor.

The cake was truly a success! The boyfriend ate two large slices of the first night and actually devoured most of the cake. Usually I don’t bake cakes because he never eats them but now I know he’ll be all over this one!

strawberry shortcake1

Here is step one in cake construction. One layer of cake, whipped topping and the macerated strawberries.

strawberry shortcake2Here is step two! Second cake on top!

Simple Strawberry Shortcake
1 box french vanilla cake mix
1 pint strawberries
1 8oz. container whipped topping
1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar

Bake cake in two 9 inch round cake pans according to box directions. Let cool completely

Cut one pint strawberries into slices. If you have larger berries, cut the slices into halves. Mix with 1 tbsp. sugar. Place container into refrigerator to macerate. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, up to 30.

Remove cakes from pans. Place thicker cake on plate, slice off a thin top layer with a serrated knife to create an even surface for whipped topping. Spread half of whipped topping over cake. Cover with macerated berries. Cover with whipped topping. Its okay if you have some left over. Place other cake on top and refrigerate.

Mix cold cream and 1/4 cup sugar in a metal bowl. Whip until stiff peaks are formed. Cover entire cake using offset spatula.

Place strawberry on top of the center of the cake to decorate. Refrigerate before serving or serve immediately.

strawberry shortcake full

Finished product!

strawberry shortcake slice

First slice!