Confession No. 79 — Loaded questions still get the best of me (Recipe: Cajun Fried Chicken w/ Red Beans & Rice)

I know how to ask questions.

In fact, after more than 20 years as a print/broadcast reporter, I think I’m fairly seasoned in the art of interrogation. But, just as the salesman can never say ‘no,’ neither can I seem to avoid the heat of the third degree.

And I do a damn poor job of answering, too — especially when the questions are as loaded as Willie Nelson after a live performance.

Would you like to go to a movie tonight?
I’ve been married to the same woman for almost 20 years. She knows that I’d rather crawl (nude) over broken glass — with my hair on fire — than go to a movie theater.

My reasons are plenty, but I’m mainly turned off at the sound of other people cackling or discussing scenes. As well, I usually cause some sort of marital controversy when I insist on being separated by an empty seat. (I like to stretch out.) Also, if I wanted to pay $10 for a 10-cent bucket of popcorn, I’d order room service at the Ritz Carlton.

And here’s the kicker. My feelings about this haven’t changed. Ever. Yet she still asks, occasionally.

The question unloaded: ‘I know you hate the movie theater and chick flicks in general, but I really want you to go with me — and sit next to me. If you go, I might be interested in some romance later.’

How much money do you have in your side account?
I had a secret bank account. Once. Nowadays, in the interest of full disclosure (and to avoid a repeat of World War III), my bride is aware that I keep a modest amount of side-project money in a different account. It’s not much. But, it has come in handy a time, or two.

The question unloaded: ‘I need you to transfer $150 into the regular checking account. I didn’t budget for all of the beer you bought last week.’

Are you planning on coming straight home?
This one’s a doozy and it causes my heart to stop for about three seconds almost every time I hear it. As a law-abiding grown man, I want to respond ‘What’s it to you?’ But instead, I tend to start stuttering as I search for an answer — usually ‘Uh … Do I want to come straight home?’

The question unloaded: ‘We waited dinner on you yesterday because you saw someone you knew at the beer store — and y’all talked for an hour.’ -or- ‘I need you to stay at work an extra 20 minutes, then go 15 miles out of your way to pick up your daughter from one-act play practice.’

Are you busy?
This is the mother of all loaded questions.

By answering ‘no’ or ‘sort of,’ I’ve found myself roped into speaking engagements, fundraisers and major projects for the little old lady down the street. That answer has also garnered me an audience spot at the weekly get-together of the local pyramid scheme and countless situations in which I was asked to ‘hold this’ while someone else welded, cut or tightened.

The question unloaded: ‘I’m about to screw you out of any free time that you might have looked forward to. And I’ll make you feel guilty if you even think of saying yes.’

That said, after I go way out of my way to see a bad movie (that I’ll pay for with my side-account), I’m all yours.

—30—

Laissez les bon temps rouler! I’m no more Cajun (or Creole) than Chef Boyardee. But, Mardi Gras is the time of year around here when everyone shares in the heritage and culture and lets the good times roll! Though I served my Cajun-style hankerings on the same plate, each of these dishes can truly stand on their own as a meal.

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Cajun Fried Chicken

cajun chicken and red beans & rice

Cajun Fried Chicken and Red Beans & Rice. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

3½ lb – Chicken (broiler fryer), cut into 8 pieces
1 qt – Buttermilk

1 tsp – Cayenne Pepper (or more, for heat lovers)
1 tsp – White Pepper
1 tsp – Ground Celery Seed
1 TB – Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 TB – Kosher salt

All-purpose flour (about 2-3 cups)

3-4 slices – Bacon

Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying

In a large container, pour buttermilk over chicken pieces, making sure to coat each piece well. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or (preferably) overnight.

Combine seasonings in a small bowl. Set aside. Place flour in a pie pan or large paper/plastic bag (this makes for easier cleanup).

If deep frying: Add enough oil to fryer or pan so that chicken is covered. Add bacon. Heat to 350ºF.

If frying in cast iron: Add about 1 inch of oil to the skillet. Add Bacon. Heat to 325ºF.

One piece at a time, remove chicken from buttermilk bath. Pull back the skin and add a pinch of the spice mixture. Dredge each seasoned piece in flour — only dredging what you are about to fry. (Flouring the whole bird at once will result in some soggy pieces. You don’t want that.)

When oil has reached the proper temperature and bacon has cooked, remove bacon and gently place floured chicken pieces in pan or deep fryer. Do not crowd the pan.

Cook for about 13-15 minutes (less for wings and white meat), turning occasionally to ensure even browning (in cast iron). Place cooked pieces on a paper plate to drain (this works so much better than a rack). Season with additional cayenne pepper and salt, if desired.

Serves 3-5.

Fried Chicken 101

  • Many recipes call for adding the seasoning to the flour. Hot oil does quite a number on herbs and spices, often allowing only the salt flavor to come through. Avoid this by seasoning below the skin, then coating with flour.
  • Adding a few bacon slices to the oil adds a subtle but excellent flavor to the chicken.
  • Don’t have buttermilk? Milk also works well in tenderizing poultry.
  • Watch the temperature. You don’t necessarily have to use a thermometer, but just know that cast iron is an excellent heat conductor. That 325ºF oil will drop slightly when you add chicken pieces. But, it will also rise again fairly quickly. Don’t be surprised if you have to lower the heat a little.

Cajun Red Beans & Rice

1 lb – Small Red beans (or small Kidney beans)
1 – Medium yellow onion, chopped
1 – Bell pepper, chopped
4 – Celery stalks, chopped
2 – Garlic cloves, minced

1 – Smoked ham hock or pork neck bone

1 TB – Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp – Cayenne pepper (or more/less, depending on your taste)
1 tsp – Dried Thyme

1 lb – Smoked sausage, sliced

Kosher salt and Louisiana-style Hot Sauce, to taste

Cover beans with water and soak overnight -or- Cover beans with 2-3 inches of water, bring to a light boil, turn off heat and allow to sit for an hour. Drain.

In a large pot, cover beans with about 3 inches of water. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic (known as ‘The Holy Trinity’ of Cajun cooking) and ham hock. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to a very light boil. Cook for about 1½ hours, stirring occasionally. If you notice that the liquid has reduced to below the surface of the beans, add more.

After 1½ hours of cooking, beans should still have their shape and be al dente. Add black pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme and smoked sausage.

Bring pot back to a light boil and cook, stirring regularly, for about 30-45 minutes. Season to taste. Serve with long grain white rice.

Serves 5, with enough for leftovers. (Cajun Red Beans taste better the next day.)

Comments

  1. And… if you are asked ‘Do you love me?”, I find it best to fake a sudden attack of Bubonic Plague or Lou Gehrig’s disease (the 24 hour kind).

  2. Damn that’s a fine looking meal there. Perfectly battered, crispy chicken. As for “are you busy?” The default answer is always YES! That way, you can decide after the fact if you want to do whatever it is that’s being asked of you and can back peddle a few days later to graciously accept. This technique has saved me from countless hours of horrible, boring awkwardness.

    • Indeed, ‘yes’ is a good answer for ‘Are you busy?’ However, when the person asking the question has an inquiring mind — they’ll want to know what you’re doing. (If it’s a telephone call, you can always say that you are cleaning a fish or making taffy.)

  3. recipesfromapantry says:

    I had to come on here to say it again. Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum.

  4. recipesfromapantry says:

    Also folloing you on pinterest. See you there.

  5. I don’t like going to the pictures either, how is anyone meant to sit still that long without wanting get up, have a wee and put the kettle on/top up cider, I’ll stick with waiting 6 months and sky +..

    That entire meal looks absolutely gorgeous, Dinner is 5 minutes away, I wish I was having that..
    I shall definitely try my hand at that.

  6. Again a useful tip for frying chicken and seasoning under the skin – never knew that! Although I don’t fry chicken much anymore! I am always amused at your confessions and this one makes me think about unloading some of my questions – couldn’t hurt!

  7. Tasty recipe, home fried chicken is hard to beat. And why would anyone want to go to the cinema? Can you pause to top up your wine glass? No. Can you take your own tastier snacks in? No. Can you wear your dressing gown and slippers. ? Well, I guess you could try 🙂

  8. Embarrassingly, that is exactly what I mean when I ask those questions. Sigh. Cat’s out of the bag!

  9. That chicken looks so great I can almost smell it, thanks for tempting me during this time of mourning…the middle of a dang blasted diet! 🙂

  10. As we say over here ‘That’s an impressive plate of food’!

  11. Local pyramid scheme? Just say no, as you will be waiting for that visit from the pyramid scheme regular! “Did you like dinner” can also be a loaded question.

  12. Will I look fat after eating fried chicken and red beans and rice?

  13. “Do I look fat in these jeans?” Boy, don’t even worry about the underlying question, get the hell out of the room!

  14. Looks like some good chicken!!

  15. Lea Ann Brown says:

    Had to LOL and read some of this out loud to the husband. Making fun of marriage is always a good topic. 🙂 And as I said on G+, you’ve reminded me that I’m about due for my “once a year homemade fried chicken, mashed potatoes and chicken gravy” meal. My favorite. This cajun version sounds really good Adam.

  16. Hi Adam
    I’m so happy to have found you. I live in Holland (yup!) and fried chicken doesn’t exists here. My boyfriend and I have been courting the idea of buying a deep fryer, and you have just inspired me to run off and do it. I wish I could smell those pictures!

  17. I would eat the shit out of that!

  18. can I ask a stupid question..
    why do you put the seasoning under the skin after it’s been in the buttermilk, is there a specific reason for that, wouldn’t doing it before be less messy?
    I want to make sure my first attempt and fried chicken is just right and like to know why I’m doing what I’m doing..
    ta..

    • That’s not a stupid question. I supposed you could season the bird before soaking in milk/buttermilk. I don’t do it because … Well, look at the buttermilk after you marinated seasoned chicken in it. See all the spices that are no longer on your chicken? — Fried chicken is a messy thing, whether it’s cutting up the bird, trimming fat or even going from the marinade to the flour. And, if you want to ensure that a certain amount of spice stays in contact with what you’ll be eating, season it just before you dredge it.

      Please let me know how your fried chicken turns out.

  19. OK…by the time you reach your 60s and 70s, here’s how you answer these questions:
    1. Do you want to go to the movies? No, but you have a great time…or yes, and I’m taking my girlfriend…later darlin’!
    2. How much money to you have in your side account? Not nearly as much as I have in mine!
    3. Are you planning on coming straight home? No, fine…no problem…holler at me when you get here…scraps are in the refrig! Or, yes…then great…dinner will be served hot!
    4. Are you busy? Damn, YES, can’t you see I’m busy…duh! Or…No, whatcha need?

    Aren’tcha lookin’ forward to being a senior! xo Ally

  20. The chicken caught my eye, but then the confessions made me forget why I came to your page. Lol!

  21. Hmmm, question #1 – NOT guilty (not only do I hate sitting for 2 hr & 47 minutes but the sound level of coming attractions just about sends me home before the movie starts). Question #2 – guilty; question #3 – guilty; question #4 – guilty. One out of 4 isn’t that bad is it? But I always get stuck myself stammering when someone hits me with question #4 because I know it’s usually something I really don’t want to do.
    Now that chicken looks about as good as any I’ve ever seen. I’ve never made it myself but just recently opened the deep fryer that’s been sitting in the box for 6 years. Could be a perfect reason to use it…and I noticed that you’ve got the bacon in there. Did you add that for me?

  22. janetfctc says:

    I was brought up on the South Side of Chicago…. but somewhere in me is a frustrated (very very fat) Southern woman (prolly due to having my mother be from Alabama, even though she couldn’t cook worth a damn lol) so that dinner has me drooling all over my keyboard. I may just use that photo as my computer background…as soon as I can figure out how to keep my keyboard from a drool short out…

  23. OK, Mr. Adam. These are the female side of loaded questions. Men have plenty of their own…share in a future “confession”. Bacon will flavor the oil (and chicken), but will cause the oil to break down more quickly than frying without bacon. Of course, where would Rutt’s Hut be without their vat of oil for the ‘dogs?

  24. Your post is awesome and the comments a double portion of funny. Yard bird. Love it. You are hilarious! and the food, you’re killing me softly.

  25. That’s “in” buttermilk, not ‘on’– 🙂

  26. Haha the confession questions almost made me forget how brilliant the chicken looked. Maybe 😀

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  27. Reblogged this on A Common Life and commented:
    This guy is hilarious. I decided to repost to give him some more exposure and because I’m making this chicken tonight, baby!!! With mashed taters, gravy, Caesar salad and maybe biscuits even! Oh, glory! 🙂

  28. GORGEOUS fried chicken! I don’t make it very often, because frankly it is a lot of work and I hate frying. But I break down and do it for the fam every so often. But now my husband just saw this…and I think it will be requested on the next menu 😉

  29. I just want to let you know that I’ve nominated you for The Sunshine Award. It’s just a little blogger award that recognizes and shares favorite blogs. You may already have one and, if so, now you have another if you want it. You can get more info here: http://lolarugula.com/2013/02/06/the-sunshine-award/
    No worries if you don’t want to pass it on – we’re all busy people and this isn’t the sort of thing that’s up everyone’s alley. I did want to give you my own shout-out though, (which I did) and also tell you how much I always enjoy your site. Best!

  30. Hello,

    I have nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award. Please check http://www.TheReporterandTheGirl.com for award rules and a list of nominations which include you! Congratulations, you worked very hard and you deserve it, happy weekend and great blog!

    TheGirl

  31. But where are the most important part of the meal – the green vegetables?

    (an American internet friend…another photographer….sent me a photo of his thanksgiving meal last year which he was particularly proud of, having made himself. There were about 7 things on the plate – all brown or white).

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