It all started with the mention of a burger. Well, technically I guess it started with the Travel Channel program on the best burger joints, but once that program spawned a burger craving in my new friend, Jamie, she tweeted about it and the tweets just started flitting back and forth with our favorite comfort food indulgences. And from a single beef patty on a bun we ended up at the most elaborate version of Canadian poutine. So I began to consider all the delicious, warm, and yes, comforting foods I could think of. Too many for one single post, here is the first installment in what I hope you find will be a comforting, and mouth-watering series.
The classic comfort food, is there anything better than really good fried chicken? Forget fast-food fried chicken, if you really want the good stuff you’ve got to go to the pros. One of my preferred recipes is from Hattie’s Restaurant in Saratoga Springs, NY. This recipe goes back to 1938 when Hattie Gray opened Hattie’s Chicken Shack in the historic resort town I still call home. The current owners of Hattie’s have kept her traditional recipe and it is famously good. (So good they won the throwdown with Bobby Flay!)
An old favorite of mine was a bit less traditional, with a Cajun/creole twist: 100-spice fried chicken from the sadly, now-defunct restaurant, Lola in New York. Not only was this chicken amazingly flavorful with just the right amount of spice and heat, but it was made even better when you dined on it during Lola’s very popular Sunday Gospel brunch sittings. *Sigh* . . . I do miss Lola.
However, the all-time, best, fried chicken I have ever had the pleasure of tasting, was made by a wonderful woman in Clarke County, Virginia named Josephine. She worked as a private cook for many years and her recipe was taught to her by her mother. I was lucky enough to have her share her recipe and personally teach me her method. And while I make it rarely, it is always delicious. Maybe one day I’ll be ready to share it with you too.
Mac and Cheese
I know there are still some of you out there that feel like “purists” still eating Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in the blue box with the orange powdered cheese. Or maybe you’ve “grown up” to the Kraft Deluxe version or Velveeta Shells and Cheese. But allow me to let you in on a secret . . . when you are, in fact, a grownup, grown-up mac and cheese is so much better!
I don’t have my own recipe–I tend to be a rather improvisational cook–but as a rule I find I like it best when finished off by baking in the oven. However, I do have a recipe to share that is the perfect complement to a cold and rainy or snowy day. It comes from the aforementioned Hattie’s Restaurant (did I mention they’re great at comfort food?), and they have been generous enough to share it on their website.