wild card wednesday: smoked fried chicken, cucumber tomato blue cheese salad, grilled okra



So, we have to inform you of some changes here at the blog. Meatless Monday’s will be suspended for the school year due to Eleta’s training to teach gifted courses. She will not be home before 10 on Mondays, so to accommodate we will be doing Wild Card Wednesdays with a theme for each month. It can be anything, and since it was my turn, I chose the theme for what remains of August to be Top Chef (meals inspired by winning dishes on the best show on Bravo). I was inspired to choose this after watching a rerun this morning from the Seattle season when Josh won and Josie lost the fried chicken competition.

So, what I’ve prepared for you tonight is a smoked fried chicken, just like Josh made for the judges. Its dark meat chicken that was buttermilk brined and briefly smoked with pecan chips and battered in a flour bbq rub mix. It is served with a bright cucumber salad with local tomatoes and greens with a light cider vinaigrette, and grilled okra in olive oil and salt.

It was quite lovely, really.

Smoked Fried Chicken:

10 pieces of bone-in chicken (legs and thighs)
1 qt buttermilk
Salt, Pepper, Paprika for brine
Flour to cover
1/4 cup each garlic, paprika, salt
1/8 cup red pepper, cayenne, cumin
Canola Oil

If you are serving fried chicken, there has to be bones. It is a necessity for the dish. It should also be brined in buttermilk, which is simply pouring buttermilk over the pieces with spices and let it sit for as long as you can, up to a day.

When you are ready to cook, prepare your smoker to cook at around 200. Usually I would recommend apple or hickory for this job, but I was out. So, I improvised a broke a branch off our pecan tree and broke it into chips by hand. You’ll want to smoke the chicken 30 to 45 minutes to add the flavor, but not to cook the chicken too much. After smoking return the chicken to the buttermilk bath.

Shake the flour and spices in a brown paper bag and add the chicken pieces. Shake until the pieces are completely covered. Heat the oil over medium high heat in a cast iron pan. Once hot, add the pieces a few at a time and cook 9-11 minutes until golden brown. Drain on a paper town.



1 whole cucumber, sliced
6 cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tbsp blue cheese crumbles.

Just mix it up and sit for at least 30 minutes. Mmmm. Use a mandoline for the cucumber for uniform slices and speed. Its fun.

Grilled okra

Okra, tops cut
Olive Oil to cover

Heat a grill pan over medium high heat. Place the okra to achieve as much coloration as possible without burning. Remove when it is just soft.

This is a simple dish that is so, so good. Its no wonder it won.

And speaking of winning, we have a little experience with that.

So proud.

So proud.

We were happy to participate and win at Taste of the Arts last Saturday with our pork crostinis. We will be sure to post the recipes later.



  1. Congrats on your win! Crossroads Writers were too busy this year to prepare a dish, but maybe next year we’ll do so in advance! It is very gratifying to be chosen as the best dish when so many people are such great cooks here!

    Okay, so, if you don’t have a smoker, what would you recommend for giving the meat the flavor that the smoker does. Is there a way to do something like that with a regular grill? Or am I going to have to buttermilk brine all of my chicken and bring them to you to smoke? (Angel Collins)

    1. Thanks so much Angel! It is such an honor to be picked, we know other folks had great dishes.

      On the questions, you can get something smokey without a smoker in several ways. If you have a charcoal grill, you can set it up so that you have just a few coals on one side of the grill and place the meat on the opposite side. Put the woodchips directly on the coals right before you put the meat on the grill and cover, and opening the the top grate only slightly. On a gas grill you can use a similar setup, but you would put the soaked woodchips in a foil pouch on the grate over the hot side. Indoors, you could create a smoker with a steamer tray layered with a grate and a foil dome. Or, finally, you could use one the new-fangled fan-smokers that work like vaporizers and use plastic bags to impart smoke flavor.

      Or, you are always welcome to bring them to me, but I have been known to charge a food tax.

      1. Food tax in that you want some of what I’m cooking? Done. In fact, I may take you and your lovely wife up on your offer to be a guest cook, but that might not happen until after Crossroads 🙂 Thanks for continually inspiring the home cook in all of us!

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