Summer Cooking

Here comes summer and (hopefully) warm weather,  nice for everything except heating up the kitchen.  Enter appliances–those fantastic workhorses you have on your storage shelves or in a hard-to-reach cupboard shelf.  Take them out and dust them off and you’ll be able to cook all the lovely things that make summer so much fun without turning on your oven.  Here’s my list of favorites:  rice cooker/steamer; crock pot; electric skillet, microwave oven, insta-pot (or pressure cooker) and, of course, your gas grill.  In addition blenders, food processors and stand mixers make quick work of prepping your summer dishes.

Electric skillets seem to have gone out of fashion but for my money, they are extremely useful.  The newest ones are not as versatile or beautiful as my old Farberware with the domed cover.  I use this for a million dishes.  First of all it is very roomy and it is beautiful–mine is from the 60s and still works great.  It is immersible and even dishwasher safe.  It cleans up in a breeze, though, so there’s nothing to doing it by hand.  I also have a square Waring skillet , relatively new with a non-stick coating that I use for anything I want to keep on a very low setting without a hot ring, such as yogurt.  Yes, you can use your electric skillet as a yogurt maker.

It really can take the place of many of your other electrics:  deep fryer, chafing dish, grill, casserole, stew-pan, corn popper, steamer, food warmer, saucepan, etc.  Of course, it does some of these functions better than others:  I heartily recommend shallow frying, braising and pot roasting,  poaching and steaming.  The nice large skillets like mine are great chicken fryers.

Easy Fried Chicken

1 cut-up chicken 3-4 pounds
3/4 cups flour 2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)

Wash and dry chicken.  Put the flour and seasonings in a paper or plastic bag and shake, a few pieces at a time.

Add oil to the pan and heat to 360 degrees.  As soon as at the light goes off arrange the meatiest pieces in pan and fit smaller pieces around them,  Brown on all sides, turning once.  Reduce heat to 260.  Cover pan, vent op[em if applicable , and cook until fork-tender.  To re-crisp the chicken, raise temperature to 350 and fry uncovered for the last 10 minutes.  Cooking time about 1 hour.

Here’s a nifty way to barbecue chicken in your electric skillet if the weather isn’t great for outdoor grilling:  Cut chicken into serving pieces, season and put into individual foil wrapping.  Spread generously with 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce per package. Close tightly so sauce cannot escape.  Bake in frypan at 325 for 1 hour.  You can add ears of sweet corn wrapped in foil along with the chicken.  Bake corn for 20 minutes.

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