Back when I was in middle school, pepperoni pizza from the school cafeteria was one hot item. However, this pizza had one major issue: pools of orange, salty grease always floated on top. Some kids grabbed stacks and stacks of napkins and laid them on top of their pizza slices to soak it all up before they took their first bite. Well, not me. I reveled in it. Sick, I realize now.
Growing up in Texas, in a family that enjoys eating well (my dad ate his cornflakes with half & half, not milk) you just kinda have to go BIG. You learn that when you get barbecue, you order a chopped beef sandwich, not the sliced beef, because it's fattier and therefore tastes better. PB&Js are best when made on toasted, and generously buttered, sourdough bread and when you make a late-night trip to Whataburger, you wouldn't be a true Texan if you didn't get it Whatasized. Best of all, my favorite Mexican restaurant serves a cup of melted garlic lime butter with their fajitas - and it's normal to simply dip your taco into it before each bite. I swear. So naturally, my favorite dinner that my mom cooked growing up was crispy fried chicken and gravy.
And that brings me to the point of this post. I wanted to share some of the culinary goodness that I grew up loving so much with some friends, so this past weekend I had a low-key themed dinner party, a "Sunday Best Fried Chicken Dinner." Maybe it’s better described as a get-together, since “party” is kind of a stretch for a Sunday night. Anyway, I wanted all of my Portland friends to enjoy some homemade, good Southern cookin' that would make Paula Deen, and especially my mom, proud.
The menu: Fried chicken tenders, cream gravy, mashed potatoes, yellow squash casserole, biscuits, poppyseed pecan green salad, and chocolate pecan pie with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Oh, and the classic cheese straw as an appetizer.
To take it a little further in the theme direction I encouraged my friends to dress as southern gentlemen and ladies: large floral prints, pastels, khakis, braided belts, etc.
In an ideal world I would not have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off, and actually remembered the background Pandora: Johnny Cash, Creedence Clearwater, The Soggy Bottom Boys, etc. I also would have sprung for alcohol and made the Scarlet O'Hara and the Rhett Butler southern cocktails. But I was cheap in this instance and just served iced tea. But I did serve sugar, lemon and fresh mint on the side - that shows some attention to detail, right?
Anyway ... the night went well and everyone enjoyed the food - or at least they said they did. One of the bigger surprise hits was the southern-style yellow squash casserole, where you can find the recipe here.
So basically...I suggest you steal my idea for this dinner party, and take it further and better than i did. Think azalea centerpieces. So southern. Make me proud y'all.