What could be better than some fried chicken, potato salad, broccoli, and watermelon on a balmy Fourth of July Eve?
The fried chicken is a boneless, skinless breast, but otherwise cooked in a traditional Southern manner, with a little advice from mom. It's tossed in a plastic bag with flour and lots of each of: garlic power, Lawry's, paprika, lemon pepper, and black pepper. There was one other ingredient, too. Taking her advice to heart, I dumped in quite a lot of "paprika," until I finished, looked at the jar, and realized it was cayenne pepper. I was able to get most of it out, but left plenty in. And you know what? The added bite was perfect. This is why I almost never follow a recipe exactly and why I almost always prepare things a bit differently every time.
It's fried in peanut oil on high – medium high, about 1/3" to 1/2" deep. Let it stay until well golden, turn it, wait patiently, then turn it for about a minute to the original side. Yum.
There's just no use making potato salad from scratch unless it's a large batch for a picnic or BBQ or something. It's from the deli, spiced up with black pepper and paprika.
The broccoli was a new preparation. I had a side order a couple of weeks ago at The Old Spaghetti Factory and it was about the best broccoli I'd ever had. Soft, but firm and crunchy; buttery, and with the flavor of Parmesan and lemon. They may have steamed it, but I generally dislike (loath & hate) steamed vegetables, so I blanched them. Perfect. Then I took about a 3rd of a cube of butter (for two equal portions) and placed it on the stove to melt it and then drew out the solids for drawn butter. Once I got the broccoli out of the ice water bath (to stop the cooking so it stays firm), I returned it to the pot I'd boiled it in, on medium low heat, and grated a good portion of fresh Parmesan cheese over it. I'd forgotten to get a lemon, so I seasoned with some lemon pepper, some salt, and then poured the hot butter over it and tossed it. It was pretty damn close to the restaurant and I loved it. I've never had better broccoli, except in cheddar cheese sauce — which is certainly sinful but I love nonetheless.
Here's what the whole place setting looked like.
Enjoy the holidays. Don't eat your heart out; but eat well. It's only human.