Paula did a nice thing the other week. Oprah had a young boy on, who started a cookie baking business as a way to honor his twin brother, who had been lost to cancer. Aaron, the cute little baker boy, gives a lot of his proceeds, as well as many of the cookies, to charity.
Oprah was telling his story (via Nate) and she asked Aaron who his favorite chef was. He said Paula Deen. Darned if she didn’t walk out all bright and shiny as new penny and wrap him in her arms. It was must-see TV.
Paula is a national treasure. The larger-than-life persona, that shock of white hair, the signature laugh…it all must be striking in person and I’m glad that little boy got to feel a little of her magic.
The family is also getting a trip to
Paula’s in the kitchen with buddy, Cheryl Day, owner of Back In The Day Bakery. Oh my, she’s making Sweet Tea-Brined Fried Chicken On A “Biscone”.
Let’s see. You’ve got your sweet; you’ve got your savory; you’ve got your fried and you’ve got your breading - ALL served on extra bread too. What else could you want?
After we hear about the chicken dish and the pasta salad that Paula is going to make, Paula says to Cheryl, “I better see something sweet come out of this kitchen ‘sides you.” The “Scooped Out Cupcake Tart” will take care of that.
By the by, amazingly Paula’s recipe of Sweet Tea-Brined Fried Chicken is NOT the only one on the Food Network website. And I had never heard of it before.
Cheryl makes a big pot of sweet tea and Paula admits she’s never heard of this dish (either). That makes me feel less clueless. Cheryl adds a quartered lemon to the tea. Well, at least she’s using something from the fruit group that hasn’t been jellied or preserved in sugar.
Next she turns the tea into a brine by adding salt. Cheryl says brining takes the chicken to a whole new level. And she says she uses “gallon sized” tea bags. Of course, she does. Everything in this recipe is over the top.
Cheryl loves how the brine keeps the moisture in the chicken. She also tells us that she found this old family recipe on the back of an envelope.
Cheryl adds ½ cup of Kosher salt to the tea and lets it steep for five minutes. Paula adds the sugar and stirs it in.
They cool down the brine by adding a cup of ice. Then they cover it and put it in the fridge. (WHY is it covered if it's supposed to be cooling?)
Hey gals, you could make the brine the day before and you wouldn't have to add the ice cubes.
Cheryl drains Paula’s bow ties. Cheryl does the prep work. She dices some green pepper, measures out Kalamata olives and slices cherry tomatoes in half. (Are you tired of my RR tip yet?)
Paula says she likes her pasta salad a bit on the sweet side, so she adds part of a CAN of sliced mushrooms. I definitely don’t follow the mushrooms equaling sweet, but then I don’t follow using canned mushrooms either. A Southern thing? Dunno. (It’s funny. I’m as unfamiliar with this cuisine as I would be if they were cooking Maharggwe from Burundi or something.)
Paula makes the dressing. Sorry, she MEASURES out the dressing, which is one cup of a store bought “vinegar-ette” dressing. She says she likes the sweetness.
Ahem! How easy would it have been to whisk together oil, balsamic vinegar and a little sugar? Go for it if you want it to be sweet, but don’t use bottled dressing.
Paula adds a 1/4 cup of mayo to the dressing with 1 tablespoon sugar. Cheryl tosses the chopped vegetables with the pasta. Paula adds “a little” salt and pepper, freshly grated Parmesan and sets the pasta aside. (It is undressed at the moment.)
Cheryl says this will be a good accompaniment to their sandwiches. Funny, I kind of thought each dish could stand alone…based on their individual calorie counts.
Cheryl adds boneless chicken breasts to the brine. I love Paula for saying again that she never heard it before. Cheryl says both her mama and Paula’s mama would have made wonderful sweet tea, but that doesn't explain where the idea for the brine came from.
They move on to Cheryl’s cross between a biscuit and a scone - a “biscone”. It sounds positively luscious with a Southern accent.
Cheryl whisks together 3 cups of flour, 2 tablespoons of baking powder and salt and pepper. Then she cuts in 2 sticks of cubed butter with a pastry cutter.
Meanwhile, Paula readies the stuff for dipping the chicken. She has a heaping cup of flour in a rectangular dish. (THAT looks like 4 cups.) She has added 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and one teaspoon of her house seasoning. In another dish, Paula mixes buttermilk and hot sauce. Paula says hot sauce is the secret ingredient to the fried chicken at the Lady and Sons.
Paula has the fryer set to 350° F. Back to Cheryl, who adds 1½ cups buttermilk and 1 cup of parmesan cheese to the “biscone” batter.
Hey y’all, Paula takes the chicken out of the brine. She dusts it with flour, dips it into the buttermilk and puts it back in the flour. Paula fries up the first piece of chicken to decide if she wants that extra coating of flour.
Cheryl says to keep the “biscone” mixture in the bowl and that it’s not necessary to turn it out to knead it. It can all be done in the bowl.
Paula decides to dip the chicken only once. She tries a single-dipped piece and likes it.
Cheryl shows us how she finishes making “revolutionary, one bowl, no roll biscones”. She uses an ice cream scoop to form them. Paula says that’s how they make their biscuits at the restaurant too – no rolling and they use an ice cream scoop too. Not so revolutionary, I guess.
Cheryl puts the “biscones” on parchment paper and brushes them with an egg wash. They go into a 375° F oven for 18 to 20 minutes.
The chicken and the scones come out and Cheryl has an important question for Paula. To make the sandwiches, should they cut each scone in half or use one whole one for each side? (Think DD cup size).
Paula says “Oh, Cheryl!” I thought that meant, use 2 for each sandwich, but I guess not, because Cheryl is cutting them in half. She gives each half a schmear of scallion butter.
Paula layers the chicken on, saying it’s so dark because of the tea. Paula pronounces the sandwiches out of this world.
That got me to thinking what Paula Deen's Food Pyramid would look like. All the food groups are represented – Pork, Fat and Biscuits!
Paula is still chomping on her sandwich, while Cheryl starts dessert. 3 sticks of butter get creamed with 2 1/3 cups of sugar.
Cheryl separates 3 eggs. Cheryl says she does this in a separate bowl, UNLIKE Paula. (WELL! Cheryl should remember that Paula saved her 900 calories using only one “biscone” per sandwich.)
Paula is off in the corner eating away on her sweet tea brined mountain of a chicken sandwich, when she says between (actually during) mouthfuls, “Is this rude, Cheryl?” NOT AT ALL, Cheryl says. “I’m just glad you’re enjoying it.”
They add the egg whites to the batter for dessert. No yolks? I guess they’re conserving fat calories, although they might have started by cutting down on that that 20 ounce “biscone”.
Cheryl sifts together 3 cups of cake flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt. She adds that alternately with 1 1/2 cups of room temperature buttermilk.
Cheryl sprays a muffin pan with Pam and scoops one scoop of batter into each hole. She bakes them at 350° F for 18 to 20 minutes.
Cheryl cuts out the center of the cupcake. She likes this batter, because it bakes flat.
Paula and Cheryl agree that you can put anything in them. Today it will be whipped cream with fruit. They spoon in the cream and then put (a dot of) fruit on top.
Paula grabs some mint and says, “We’ve got our vegetable.” She IS funny. They each taste a cupcake and agree they’re wonderful.
You don't have to cook Paula’s food to enjoy watching her. In fact, if you DO cook too much of it, probably watching her is the ONLY thing you’d have energy for. She is so delightful and chipper that SHE should be prescribed for the winter doldrums. A dose of Paula and you’d be cured.