Real Food for Real Life

Monday, August 9, 2010

Gone camping...

Fried Chicken, Green Beans, and Biscuits with Pan Gravy

We went camping this weekend at Governor Bebb Preserve in rural Butler County (otherwise known as "the sticks").  While this park only offers primitive camping (no water, one port-a-let), it is one of our favorite places to camp, or to just spend a day, and you can find us here at least a few times during the spring to fall camping season.

We usually eat well while camping, because with a grill and a camp stove you can cook just about anything you can at home.  This time around we thought we would do something that we don't do at home.  The whole family loves fried chicken, but this is something I refuse to make at home, not in my kitchen, not on my deck (or anything deep fried for that matter).  We figured that using the campstove and cooking on a picnic table, we were safe from mess and odor.  Frying the chicken did indeed prove to be a messy endeavor, even using a splatter screen (reinforcing my stance against doing this at home), but the results were oh, so gooood.  After spooning off most of the frying oil, I made a pan gravy with the "leavin's" and served this over biscuits that we had brought along.  Uum, uum good!!

We did not have a thermometer for the oil and I believe we probably had it too hot, but we got delicious crispy skin while retaining  juicy flavorful meat, so mission accomplished.  There are several trains of thought about preparing chicken for frying...some think it should be soaked in buttermilk, some think it should be soaked in a brine...I decided to do both, and with the addition of salt and sugar, made a "buttermilk brine."  The night before we left I got the chicken soaking in this "brine" in a gallon bag, and prepared another bag with heavily seasoned flour in which to dredge the chicken (homemade "shake and bake",,,is that stuff even still around?).

Southern Fried Chicken with Pan Gravy
This recipe is for camp cooking

2 lbs. chicken parts (we used 6 legs)
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 tbs. lemon juice)
1 tbs, coarse salt
1 tbs. sugar
2 cups flour
seasonings of choice- I used ground pepper, table salt, garlic powder, paprika, and dried parsley flakes
canola oil, as needed
2 cups milk (I used 2%)

Place the chicken, buttermilk, salt, and sugar in a gallon sized zip bag; seal and mush it around to combine everything; refrigerate over night.  If your chicken will be hanging out in a cooler like ours did, you will probably want to seal it in an additional gallon bag (unless you are VERY trusting that the bag won't leak).  Put the flour in another gallon bag and season VERY generously with whatever you like, but you should certainly include salt and pepper. 

Our breading station
When you are ready to cook, heat a cast iron skillet and 1/2 to 1'" of canola oil (we used about 3 cups) until very hot- you will want the oil to reach about halfway up the sides of your chicken.  Dredge the chicken heavily in the flour (a surprisingly thick amount will adhere) and place carefully, skin side down, into the hot oil.  Cook until richly brown on the first side and turn over (you don't want to turn it too much and risk breaking off the crust).  Cook the second side until brown, and remove when the chicken is cooked through (I can't give you a time here...Ben has a weird ability to just "know" when chicken on the bone is done...I don't share this ability).  Cook the chicken in batches so as to not crowd the pan, and remove to a paper towel lined plate when finished, just cover lightly with foil to keep warm (and keep the pesky flies off of it).

When all the chicken is fried, spoon off most of the oil into a heat resistant bowl to cool (then you can pour it into a plastic bottle to dispose of it, don't dump it on the ground).  Pour what is left of the flour into the pan with the oil and cook until a nice golden color (this will happen very quickly).  Using a whisk, stir in a small amount of milk until smooth, then slowly whisk in the rest of the milk, scraping up any brown bits from the pan too (that's the best part).  Turn off the heat and serve with the chicken and biscuits.  I found the seasonings in the flour to be enough, but Ben added some pepper, so have that handy for any who want it :)

We also cooked some green beans (with some bacon :) to go with this fried feast.

The next morning we made a Mountainman Breakfast, our third time making this dutch oven meal, but the first time to actually do it while camping.  We were also able to warm up leftover biscuits from the residual heat.

Mountainman Breakfast, biscuits with honey, coffee percolated on the campstove, and OJ...what a great start to a morning outdoors :-)

A view of the creek near our camp site.

Christopher, all on his own, decided to start weeding the playground.  Now he wants to go back with garden tools and finish the job.  I think this is a beautiful idea, as the parks in Butler County have suffered severe cutbacks and can use all the help they can get.  Chris and daddy are also scheming a service project for their Webelos den (the last cub scout rank)...I love my guys :-)


  1. On Facebook:
    Tracey said: now i want fried chicken.....kfc is closed! grrr... I used to love my grandmas fried chicken. She has this big black cast iron skillet she made it in.. Every sunday we had fried chicken, mashed potatoes, veggies, cornbread (hillbilly staple u know) salad or wilted lettuce (do you know about that?) and dessert..heavenly!! That woman could cook like nobodys business....
    Monday at 10:53pm

    On Facebook:
    Casa En La Cocina said: Mom always made it in an electric skillet...she used it for chicken and taters :-) KFC and Kroger deli are now only "okay" after the chicken this weekend...I am really growing to lobe the cast iron, we've had the skillet maybe 18 months, the dutch oven just a couple...
    Monday at 11:47pm

    On Facebook:
    Tracey said: yeah kfc is just a substitute when you really need some..and like you, i hate deep frying in my kitchen. I hate the smell of fried foods that seem to linger forever.
    Yesterday at 9:27am

  2. Honey Creek resort in Rathbun Lake is the best summer experience. I've been there last month when I visited my hunting land in Iowa. I love hunting big bucks and whitetails in Iowa. There are lots of hunting lands for sale in Iowa.


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