|LOOKS SO WRONG; TASTES SO RIGHT|
Let me first say that this may be one of the most unappetizing-looking photographs I'll ever share with you, but let's face it-- does a plate of dirty diner fare like this ever really look good? On a recent trip with family down south, we stopped on a Sunday at a Virginia diner famed for its Southern fare, and though I tried to distract myself from my grumbling tummy and empty plate by admiring the impressive hats of the church-goers surrounding me, my eyes kept being drawn to the plates next to me piled with fried chicken, biscuits & gravy, and I found myself thinking, "Why do I want that so badly?" When, a few weeks later, a friend advertised online that she was eating chicken fried steak with biscuits & gravy for dinner, and the same thought resurfaced in my brain, I decided that I needed to make it happen. And hot damn, did I make it happen. There were exaggerated (but sincere) looks of amazement on my face, tap dancing in place, and even a bit of (manageable) heartburn for the genuine Southern comfort food experience. What a perfect winter meal! The chicken tastes remarkably buttery, and the rustic flavor of the biscuits, albeit not a very traditional choice, pairs really well with the savory gravy. I may play around with the biscuits a bit more in the future to see if I can satisfy another, "Why do I want this so badly?" craving for KFC biscuits. This meal is easily made vegan by using tofu instead of chicken, if you are one of the lucky souls who can indulge in soy, or you could try breading thick-cut vegetables like zucchini, summer squash or eggplant.
1 15.3 OZ CAN CHESTNUT PUREE
1 CUP WATER (OR VEGETABLE OR MEAT STOCK IF YOU CAN TOLERATE IT)
1 1/4 TSP TOASTED SESAME OIL
1/2 TSP MEXICAN SMOKED SEA SALT (OR SMOKED SEA SALT OF YOUR CHOICE)
2 PINCHES OF ASAFOETIDA POWDER
PUT CHESTNUT PUREE IN FOOD PROCESSOR OR BLENDER AND PROCESS, ADDING LIQUID SLOWLY AS IT BLENDS. ADD REST OF THE INGREDIENTS*, MIX UNTIL SMOOTH, AND HEAT ON STOVE TOP.
* IF YOU CAN TOLERATE ALLIUM, THIS WOULD TASTE LIKE A DREAM WITH CARMELIZED ONIONS OR SHALLOTS PUREED INTO THE GRAVY AS WELL.
1 1/2 CUPS BUCKWHEAT FLOUR
1/2 CUP TEFF FLOUR
1/2 CUP TAPIOCA FLOUR
1 TSP SEA SALT
1 TSP BAKING POWDER
1/4 CUP FLAX MEAL
2/3 TSP BAKING SODA
1/4 CUP OLIVE OIL
2 TSP FRESH LEMON JUICE
1 CUP WARM WATER
PREHEAT OVEN TO 400 DEGREES. MIX FIRST FIVE INGREDIENTS IN A LARGE MIXING BOWL. IN SMALLER BOWL, MIX FLAX MEAL AND BAKING SODA, ADD WARM WATER, LEMON JUICE AND OLIVE OIL, MIX THOROUGHLY, AND ALLOW TO SIT FOR A COUPLE OF MINUTES. POUR WET MIXTURE INTO THE DRY, KNEAD UNTIL ALL CRUMBS ARE MIXED INTO THE DOUGH. LINE A BAKING SHEET WITH PARCHMENT PAPER, FLATTEN OUT DOUGH TO ABOUT 3/4 INCH HIGH, AND USE A CUP OR COOKIE CUTTER TO CUT OUT ROUNDS ABOUT 2 1/2-3 INCHES WIDE. BAKE 8-10 MINUTES.
MAKES ABOUT A DOZEN
4 TBS FLAXMEAL
1/2 CUP WARM WATER
6 TBS (3/8 CUP) GROUND RAW CASHEWS
2 TBS TAPIOCA FLOUR
2 TBS TEFF FLOUR
1/2 TSP SEA SALT
2 PINCHES OF ASAFOETIDA POWDER
2 LARGE CHICKEN BREASTS (OR EQUIVALENT AMOUNT OF TOFU OR VEGGIES), CUT INTO STRIPS
GRAPESEED OIL FOR FRYING
IN A SMALL BOWL, MIX FLAXMEAL AND WATER UNTIL THE MIXTURE GELS. IN A LARGER BOWL, MIX THE DRY INGREDIENTS. HEAT SKILLET ON STOVE, AND POUR ENOUGH GRAPESEED OIL IN THE PAN TO FRY, ALMOST A 1/4 INCH DEEP. COAT EACH STRIP IN FLAXMEAL MIXTURE, AND THEN COAT WITH DRY MIX THOROUGHLY. WHEN OIL IS HEATED, DROP THE STRIPS INTO THE OIL AND FRY, TURNING WHEN ONE SIDE IS BROWNED.
POUR GRAVY OVER THE CHICKEN AND BISCUITS, AND ENJOY.