Thinking about fried chicken this morning got me to pull out one of the dearest cookbooks I've ever read, The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock. To be honest, I remembered that I rejected their fried chicken recipe without remembering why. A quick glance explained it: lard and butter are the cooking fat, and a piece of country ham flavors the fry. Not my style.
But on the opposing page, I found a recipe I did try. And loved. Since it involves the chicken fat from fried chicken, I think it's on-topic enough to share belatedly.
"We love to serve creamy tomato gravy along with fried chicken using a bit of the flavorful frying fat after the chicken is done and either fresh tomatoes or good quality canned ones depending on the season. The gravy is a very old Deep South recipe and was often prepared as part of a hearty breakfast, just spooned over hot biscuits. For nonchicken uses, prepare the gravy with bacon fat in place of chicken frying fat and substitute milk for the chicken stock."
I remember serving it over grits topped with grilled shrimp that had been rubbed with a hot little spice mix, mimicing a dish I'd had in Charleston.
Here's their recipe:
2 tbslp chicken frying fat
1 cup finely diced onion
2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tblsp flour
1 pound tomatoes, peeled/seeded/diced
1/2 c milk
1/2 c cream
Heat the fat in a heavy, non-reactive skillet and add the diced onion. Saute over medium hihg heat for five minutes, then add the garlic, salt, pepper and thyme and cook another five minutes. Sprinkle the flour over and cook, stirring well, for another 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped tomato and cook another five minutes. Slowly stir in the cream, then the milk, and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for another five minutes [Jenise's note: the longer the better], adjust seasoning and serve.