Welcome to the 2013 Cooking Club! Given it's January and everyone is back on the proverbial wagon, I did toy with the idea of doing a healthy recipe this week. And then I thought "Screw it, January is miserable enough", and went with pure comfort food - so, ladies and gents, I give you Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Spiced Up Mac & Cheese

I pretty much always serve these two dishes together, but the chicken would also be great with green beans & mash, or sweet potato fries. Likewise, the mac & cheese is more than hearty enough to stand alone as a main.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken - serves 4

4 large or 6 small chicken fillets
350ml buttermilk
1 stick celery, roughly chopped
1 small onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic, halved lengthways
1 red chilli, roughly chopped
Tbs fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp paprika
100g flour
Salt & pepper.

1. In a large bowl, mix the buttermilk, celery, onion, garlic, chili, a teaspoon each of the paprika & cayenne and plenty of salt & pepper. Add the chicken, give it a good stir, then cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for as long as you have - overnight is best, but certainly no less than four hours. Give it another stir every so often.

(The more eagle-eyed among you will notice that I've used a habanero rather than a red chilli in the pic - this is actually a great way to use up the random scotch bonnets and habaneros you always end up with at the end of those multi-packs of chillies. Just leave it whole and score it rather than chopping it if you are using one of these, as they're really hot.)

2. In a large, shallow dish, mix the flour with the rest of the paprika & cayenne and more salt & pepper. Remove the chicken from the milk with a tongs, shake off any excess liquid and dredge through the seasoned flour until completely covered - give it a good shove with the tongs to make sure you get into all the nooks & crannies. Don't worry if there's any thyme leaves or big lumps of pepper stuck to the chicken, it all adds to the flavour.

3. Heat a couple of inches of sunflower oil (don't use olive, it's too strong and with too low a smoke-point) in a large, deep pan until piping hot. Fry the chicken two or three pieces at a time, allowing about 6 minutes per side. Handle very carefully when removing from the pan so that you don't knock off all your lovely, crispy coating. Leave to rest on a warmed platter lined with kitchen towels while you're cooking the other pieces.

Spiced Up Mac & Cheese - serves 4

300g pasta
250g grated strong cheese such as a really mature Cheddar, Leicester or Gloucester
30g flour
30g butter
600ml milk
3 tbs Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chilli powder
0.5 tsp garlic granules
Salt & pepper

1. Cook the pasta until just slightly underdone & drain. Stick the same pot back on the heat, allow to dry, then make a roux by melting the butter, then adding the flour and cooking for a good 5 minutes, stirring all the time. (I usually just nick 30g of the seasoned flour that I'm going to use for the chicken.)

2. In a jug or bowl, mix the milk, cayenne, chili powder, hot sauce, garlic granules and salt & pepper. Whisk into the roux a little at a time, then bring to the boil, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese.

3. Stir the pasta back into the sauce (add a little of the cooking water if your sauce is too thick), pour into a shallow dish & bake in an oven preheated to 200C until golden & bubbling - about 30 minutes.

Serve with the chicken and a spinach & coriander salad.

I hope this is a worthy kick-off to the 2013 Cooking Club - all feedback is welcome - good, bad or indifferent!

83 people have thanked this post
Faith Mary Berry is my idol

I thought we weren't starting until next week. What a nice surprise this morning!

I'll definitely be making that chicken soon . I'd love to make the mac and cheese but my OH absolutely hates cheese .

Malari Registered User

I want to eat this now! This is almost the same as my mac and cheese recipe except without the hot sauce

I don't usually deep/shallow fry stuff in oil either, as I hate the smell in the house for days after It looks delicious though.

John Mason Hosted Moderator

Oh Cooking Club how i have missed you.

Well there's Saturdays Dinner sorted.

1 person has thanked this post

irishbird said:
Oh Cooking Club how i have missed you.

Well there's Saturdays Dinner sorted.

Can't wait!

MissFlitworth Registered User

Ohhhhhh my lord god all the saints and the little baby jesus in heaven I have been *seriously* craving mac & cheese. My sister is coming for dinner on Sunday and I think we will be eating this

oscarBravo Custodiam ipsos custodes

irishbird said:
Well there's Saturdays Dinner sorted.
Snap! Will definitely be reporting back at the weekend.

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BaZmO* Registered User

Great start to the New Year, well done! Definitely give this a bash.

homemadecider Registered User

Looks great! I'll be giving that chicken a go for sure.

Nicolas Cage Cagerator

Regarding the frying part, I assume a standard tefal frying pan is too shalow. Would a deep saucepan do the trick or would something like a wok be ok?

Also, is this pretty much the KFC recipe (except with actual chicken)?


I'd love to make the mac and cheese but my OH absolutely hates cheese .

Divorce! It's the only way.

Sounds scrumptious. Will defo try. However will make the small adjustment of loading even more cheese on top of the pasta before baking.

1 person has thanked this post
The Black Oil Moderator

Have been meaning to try the buttermilk/chicken combo for a while. Nice one!

Mrs Fox Registered User

Looks amazing! Pure comfort is right. Will definitely be making these.

Malari Registered User

Made the mac and cheese! I added in a couple of chopped mushrooms and lardons (in operation 'use contents of fridge') and didn't have Franks hot sauce so used some hot chilli sauce instead. It wasn't uber hot, but think it added a nice bite. Would make again.

1 person has thanked this post
CaliforniaDream Registered User

Looks good. Funnily enough, we decided to make fried chicken for tge first time last night. Would have used your recipe if we waited. Liked ours too though.

I'll give the mac and cheese a go soon.

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