'Crunchy, succulent and tender' fried chicken 'smothered in low-country sausage gravy' which is a 'moreish evocation of bold, honest Americana, with just a trailer-park couldn't give a continental' is a description given by a Hartsyard regular in the foreword of Fried Chicken & Friends.
If your mouth is watering, then this might just be the cookbook for you!
The authors of Fried Chicken & Friends, husband and wife team Gregory Llewellyn and Naomi Hart, are Australian-Americans whose restaurant, Hartsyard in Sydney's inner-west, has become a mecca for lovers of southern-style cooking.
Gregory has been cooking since he was a teenager in upstate New York. Naomi was a performer in musical theatre, and the pair met in a restaurant in NYC, where Naomi was the hostess and Gregory was the chef. They dated in secret and were married 18 months later. And now here they are.
Chapters cover fried chicken, of course... including a three-day method that will see you brining the bird, then cooking it in a warm water bath, then marinating it and then triple-flouring it with seasoning, before deep-frying. There's also a quick-fire recipe that takes only two hours.
We are also offered recipes for drinks and snacks to accompany the bird - mint julep, dill pickles, mustard pretzels, potato bread, duck fat crackling, and pickled watermelon rind.
Oyster po' boy, school prawn popcorn with sour yoghurt dip, mac 'n' cheese, crab cakes and BBQ pit beans are covered in a chapter titled The Feed. The oysters are soaked in buttermilk and hot sauce for a day before cooking, then served on homemade English muffins with coleslaw. Recipes are given for both.
Among the Sides, are hushpuppies, creamed corn, dirty rice, sourdough waffles, Dixie polenta, and cornbread. In case you were wondering, hushpuppies are cornmeal fritters, not slippers. Apparently they sit well with Dirty chicken gravy. The waffles are topped with lashings of fried bacon and smoked maple syrup. Yep, there's a recipe explaining the smoked maple syrup... I've tabbed that page!
Praise the lord and pass the ketchup, there ARE recipes for salads and veg... starting with Mema's potato salad, pickled (and also fried) green tomatoes, butter lettuce and dandelion salad with hot bacon dressing, coleslaw, corn cobs with charred chilli dressing, and broad beans on the barbie, among others.
Of course there are recipes for sauces too. Hartsyard hot sauce, dirty chicken gravy, white sausage gravy, lemon jam, dry ranch spice, and togarashi salt. I love the sound of the lemon jam, which is lemon rind cooked with sugar and water. Agar-agar is added, before the 'jam' is cooled and whizzed.
To finish, there are s'mores (Graham crackers with marshmallow and chocolate), sweet potato pies with marshmallow topping, doughnut ice cream stuffed doughnuts, Franny's sticky buns, cheesecake sundae, and milkshakes.
Fried Chicken & Friends is, perhaps, not for everyone... but there are indeed some good things to be cooked from it. I think I'll start with the smoked maple syrup.
Fried Chicken & Friends - the Hartsyard Family Cookbook by Gregory Llewellyn and Naomi Hart, $49.99, Murdoch Books. Thank you to the authors and the publicity team at Murdoch Books for giving me the opportunity to review this title. Cover image appears courtesy of Murdoch Books.
Click here if you'd like to sample a few of the recipes from this book.
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