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  • Writer's pictureClaire

Book Club: Where the Crawdads Sing - And some Deep South inspired recipes

Updated: Oct 29, 2023

As a lover of travel, nature and cooking, I love it when a book draws heavily on those themes as it really inspires me to plan in my head new trips that I can take in the future, (I'm always dreaming up trips). This book does exactly that but adds to it another element of societal division and prejudice, murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative with a tender love story. I devoured it in a couple of weeks, so a great camper trip read for this month's book club.

Set in the marshes of the deep south, it follows the life of Kya, the 'Marsh Girl' and how she perceives the world around her, how she navigates the life that she has been dealt; and her own journey into adulthood.

Author, Delia Owens has also won the John Burroughs award for Nature writing, which is why this book details Kya's world so beautifully.

Inspired by the food in this book I have found the following recipes that I want to try, the breakfast grits could be a great new camping breakfast idea!

Ingredients: 3 Cups of Water

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1 Cup of Corn Grits (Polenta)

Black Pepper

1 tablespoon Salted Butter

1/2 Cup of Strong Cheddar Cheese

i) Bring the water and salt to the boil. Whisk in the grits and continue whisking for 1 minute. Once boiling turn the heat to low. Stir frequently for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and add pepper, butter and the cheese, stir until the butter and cheese are melted. Serve with crispy bacon.


For the Crust

375g Plain Flour

225g Butter cut into cubes

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Salt

120ml Ice Water

For the Filling

4 Skinless chicken breasts

110g Butter

Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 Large Carrots, peeled and diced

1 Medium Onion, chopped

3 Garlic Cloves, crushed

95g Plain Flour

720ml Chicken Stock

60ml Double Cream

150g Frozen Peas

2 Tablespoons Parsley, chopped

2 Teaspoons Thyme, chopped

Egg Wash

Flakey Salt

i) Make the dough: Place flour and butter into the freezer for 30 minutes beforehand. In a food processor add flour, salt and baking powder and pulse. Add butter and pulse until pea sized pieces form, with the machine running add the ice water into the feed tube, 1 tablespoon at time unitl the dough forms and is moist but not wet and sticky. Turn dough out onto a floured surface form 2 balls and flatten into disks, making sure there are no cracks. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

ii) Cook chicken: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Grease a large baking dish with butter place chicken in it and put some buttered parchment over the top of the chicken so it is all covered. Bake until cooked through 30-40 minutes. After 10 minutes rest cut into cubes.

iii) Start filling: Melt butter in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, then the flour - cook the flour until the mixture is golden. Gradually whish in the chicken stock and bring to the boil and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the double cream, cubed chicken, peas, parsley and thyme, then season.

iv) Assemble the pie: On a floured surface roll out one disc of dough into a large round until 1cm thick. Place in a shallow pie dish, then add the filling. Roll out the second disk to the same thickness as before and place on top of the filling. Trim and crimp the edges. Knife slits into the top, brush with egg wash and top with flaky salt. Reduce heat to 190 degrees celsius and bake pie until golden, about 45 minutes.


For the Buttermilk Fried Chicken

8-10 Chicken Thighs, boned and skinned

200ml Buttermilk

2 Eggs, beaten

Groundnut Oil for Frying

Salt and Pepper

For the Biscuits

225g Plain Flour

3/4 tablespoon Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Salt

Pinch of Black Pepper

75g cold Vegetable Shortening, diced

135ml Whole Milk

30g Butter, melted

Pinch of Paprika

For the Seasoning Flour

200g Cornflour

200g Plain Flour

8 tablespoons Paprika

4 teaspoons Dried Thyme

4 teaspoons Garlic Granules

2 teaspoons Salt

1 teaspoon Onion Powder

1 teaspoon Celery Salt

1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

1/2 tablespoon Black Pepper

For the Gravy

20g unsalted Butter

2 tablepoons Plain Flour

120ml Whole Milk

120ml good quality Chicken Stock

i) Deeply score the chicken pieces sprinkle with salt and place in a freezer bag with the buttermilk. Massage the chicken then pop in the fridge and leave overnight.

ii) The following day, preheat the oven to 225 degrees celsius, and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

iii) Prepare the biscuits: put flour, baking powder, salt and pepper into a bowl and stir with a fork. Quickly rub the cold shortening into the flour, lifting it high and letting it fall to incorporate air. Do this until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the milk gradually stirring with a fork until the mixture forms a dough. Tip the dough onto a work surface and lightly kneed no more than 10 times. Roll out the dough to 5mm thick and use a 6cm round cutter to cut disc from the dough - you will need to put six on the baking sheet. Use melted butter to wash the uncooked biscuits and sprinkle each with a little paprika. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden.

iv) While the biscuits are cooking prepare the chicken: Put all the seasoning flour ingredients into a large bowl and mix with a fork until combined. Place a beaten egg into another large bowl. Take the chicken from buttermilk and pat dry, dunk in seasoned flour then in the egg, then back into the seasoned flour. Continue until all chicken pieces are covered. Pour groundnut oil into a large pan so it is 1cm deep heat on high until 180 degrees celsius, or a breadcrumb turns golden when immediately placed. Set aside a large place covered with kitchen paper to drain. When biscuits are cooked remove and place on a wire rack and turn oven down to low. Place the chicken pieces in the oil in batches. Immediately turn the heat down to its lowest setting and pop the lid on and cook for 4-7 minutes. Turn chicken over and pop lid on again and cook for.a further 4-7 minutes. Then turn the heat up and fry the chicken until golden turning frequently. Ensure juices run clear. As each batch of chicken is cooked place it onto the kitchen paper then place in a roasting tin covered with foil and put in the oven to keep warm until you finish your batches.

v) Make the Gravy: In a small pan on a low heat, melt the butter then whisk in the flour to make a roux. Gradually whisk in the mil and chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes, whisking continually until thickened. Season to taste. Transfer Chicken and the Biscuits onto a large serving plate and serve the Gravy in a gravy boat.

Where the Crawdads sing book cover

Grits and bacon

a cut pie in a pie dish

a plate Southern fry

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1 Comment

Aug 03, 2020

A darn good read could not put it down.

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