I’m not from the South. Nobody passed me down a biscuit recipe. The only fried chicken I ever had came in a bucket from KFC, once, to take on a picnic to the seaside lagoon in Redondo Beach. It was kind of greasy. Growing up there was cioppino and mostacolli aplenty, but no gumbo or grits.
So thankfully, I have found an adoptive grandmother in the form of Damon Lee Fowler. His New Southern Kitchen has become just the reference that I was looking for. I was skeptical at first. The moment that I came across the curry powder in his spiced pecans I set him aside for more traditional dowagers like those Junior League ladies and their many spiral bound collections of recipes. I love those. But when I needed a great biscuit recipe it was Damon Lee Fowler that delivered.
This particular recipe was so well written - helpfully detailed, yet enjoyably idiosyncratic - that it forced me to reconsider the book. This time when I flipped through the pages it was his straightforward, honest treatment of the best seasonal ingredients that caught my attention rather than the occasional little dip into the realm of fusion cuisine. I found a perfect balance between traditional recipes and more modern treatments of old ingredients indigenous to the South.
This cookbook is not remotely vegan, nor is it even particularly vegan-friendly. Fowler occasionally gives a recipe using olive oil where traditionally butter or lard would have been used, but it's rare, and chances are the recipe calls for some other animal-derived ingredient anyway. Thus far, that has only been a challenge and not an actual obstruction from enjoying the recipes. Even though he insisted that lard be used in the southern breakfast biscuits, they were wonderful with vegetable shortening, and that buttermilk fried chicken recipe... that’s dinner tonight, with a few modifications.
Here’s the plan:
4 seitan cutlets (Your favorite recipe - I’ll post the one that I’ve been using later this week. The chicken recipe from Nonna’s Italian Kitchen would work well here, as would her breast of tofu recipe if you want to go a slightly different direction.)
1 c. buttermilk (1 Tbsp. lemon juice + enough soy milk to make 1 cup. Stir. Let sit until thickened, about 5 min.)
3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
a few shakes louisiana hot sauce
In a paper sack, shake up the following:
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne 2 tsp. salt
Marinate seitan in buttermilk mixture for about 30 minutes to an hour. Over medium-high, heat enough oil (DLF recommends peanut, I’m using canola because we have it and the boy’s not allowed to have nuts yet) in your cast iron skillet to come half way up cutlet. Remove cutlets from buttermilk, place in paper sack, shake to coat with seasoned flour. Fry in hot oil until golden brown on both sides. Remove to cooling rack placed over cookie sheet to drain.
I'll keep you posted on how it turns out.