Book Club: Where the Crawdads Sing - And some Deep South inspired recipes
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.
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!
Breakfast Grits - https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/14020/breakfast-grits/
Ingredients: 3 Cups of Water
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Cup of Corn Grits (Polenta)
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
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
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.
3. Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Biscuits and Gravy - https://www.waterstones.com/blog/recipe-buttermilk-fried-chicken-biscuits-and-milk-gravy
For the Buttermilk Fried Chicken
8-10 Chicken Thighs, boned and skinned
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 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.