Two Recipes from The Country Cat Cookbook

 When Adam and Jackie Sappington opened The Country Cat in the spring of 2007 they wanted their restaurant to feel welcoming. “Our vision with The Country Cat was to offer an all inclusive, family-friendly place that offers great food” Jackie says. “We took the white tablecloths off.” 

Adam and Jackie met as two line cooks working under head chef Cory Schreiber at Wildwood in 1995. A pioneer in the local food movement, Wildwood forever changed how Portland restaurant’s sourced the foods that comprised their menus. “That whole philosophy was what Cory Schreiber brought to the Pacific Northwest” Adam says about Schreiber, “and that influenced me and Jackie’s vision.”

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But what makes The Country Cat more than just a restaurant dedicated to creating dishes from local ingredients is the pair’s love for food, whether it’s midwest rustic or classic European. From a heritage inspired hamburger with onion rings to a brined and smoked duck leg with asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and summer squash tossed in gremolata butter, The Country Cat's menu highlights both the rustic and refined aspects of American cuisine today. 

After Nine year successful years, a few James Beard nominations, and a couple of TV appearances, last year the pair, with the help of Ashley Garland, published the restaurant’s first cookbook: Heartland: Heritage Recipes from Portland’s The Country Cat

Below we have Adam and Jackie's favorite recipes from the cookbook: Skillet-fried Chicken and Free-form Apple Pie.

Adam's Favorite Recipe: Skillet-Fried Chicken

chicken1

Head chef of The Country Cat, Adam Sappington is originally from a small town in Missouri. "I grew up eating friend chicken and cube steak," Adam remembers, "sitting down and having fried chicken every Sunday night was a big deal." As a chef who studied food through the french technique, Adam wanted to recreate the fried chicken from his childhood and serve it to the guests that patron The Country Cat, which became the restaurant's signature dish, and is now a signature recipe in the cookbook.

For the home cook looking to recreate The Country Cat's fried chicken, first thing's first: you're going to need a cast-iron skillet. "It's key" Adam Say, "it's the soul of the chicken." 

Second, Adam strongly recommends letting the chicken soak in saltwater and using beef tallow to season the pan, as Adam argues "the flavor is in the fat."

Ingredients
Servings: 4-6

1/4 cup kosher salt

2 each skin-on boneless chicken breasts,
thighs, drumettes, and wings, breasts halved
(see Chef's note)

4 cups low-fat buttermilk

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup lemon pepper

1/4 cup garlic powder

1/4 cup ground celery seed

2 tablespoons onion powder

4 cups beef tallow or lard

Chef's Note:

I use boneless skin-on chicken meat to make 
fried chicken east for everyone to eat—and 
encourage everyone to eat 
fried chicken with their fingers. 
If you want to go the boneless route,
just ask your 
butcher to debone a four-pound 
chicken, cut it into ten pieces,and leave the
skin intact. If 
you use bone-in pieces instead, 
you may need to fry them for a few
minutes longer.

1. One to two days before serving the chicken
in a large pitcher, mix two quarts water with two
tablespoons of the salt and stir until the salt has.
Place the chicken in a large bowl and pour the salt
water over the top to cover it completely. Cover
the bowl with plastic wrap and let the chicken soak
in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours or up to 24
hours.

2. Remove the chicken from the saltwater and discard
the water. Rinse the bowl and return the chicken to it.
Pour the buttermilk over the chicken to cover it
completely. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and the let
the chicken soak in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours or
up to 24 hours.

3. When the chicken is ready, line a large baking sheet with
parchment paper. In a large paper grocery bag, combine
the flour, lemon pepper, garlic powder, celery seed, onion
powder, and remaining two tablespoons salt and shake the
bag until combined. Working with one piece at a time,
remove the chicken from the buttermilk, allowing any
excess buttermilk to drip back into the bowl. Place the
chicken in the seasoned flour and shake the bag until the
chicken is well coated. Place the chicken on the prepared
baking sheet and repeat with the remaining pieces of 
chicken. Transfer the baking sheet to the refrigerator
and allow the dredged chicken to rest for at least 30 minutes
or up to one hour.

4. Line a separate large baking sheet with paper towels. In a
12-inch cast-iron skillet set over medium heat, warm the
beef tallow or lard until it reaches 325°F on a deep-frying
pan thermometer. Place five pieces of chicken in the skillet
and fry, turning with a fish fork every five minutes and
adjusting the heat to maintain a steady temperature, until
the skin is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through,
about 15 minutes for the breasts, legs, and thighs, and 
about 10 minutes for the wings. (To check the chicken for
doneness, remove a piece from the skillet and insert two
of the prongs from your fish fork into the thickest part of 
the chicken flesh. The juices should run clear and warm.)

5. Transfer the fried chicken to the paper towel-lined
baking sheet to drain. Fry the remaining chicken, then 
transfer the chicken to a platter and dig in.

 

Jackie's Favorite Recipe: Free-Form Apple Pie 

pie1

Jackie, the executive pastry chef of The Country Cat, grew up watching her grandmother bake cherry pies in Los Angeles, California. "I'm totally pie geeking out right now," Jackie says, "but there's a visceral, inner happiness and love when you pull them out of the oven."

Jackie's favorite pie to pull out of the oven that's featured in the cookbook is the Free-form Apple Pie. "It's quick," Jackie says, "and you can eat for breakfast lunch or dinner." What makes Jackie's apple pie stand exceptional is the pie crust.

"The key is temperature of ingredients and turning folding" Jackie says in regard to her pie dough recipe. She insists on cutting the butter into to dough mixture by hand, not to use a food processor, and that to ensure a flaky pie crust turn and fold your pie die when working it.

"If you work quickly with it and you're not afraid of it you're going to have great crust."

Ingredients
Makes one (10-inch) pie

1 (10-inch) pie crust

All-purpose flour, for dusting

6 medium Granny Smith or Gravenstein apples,
peeled, cored, cut into 1/4 inch
slices, and
halved (about six cups)

3/4 cup (5.25 ounces/150 grams)
granualted sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed
lemon 
juice

1 1/2 tablespoons ground
cinnamon

1 large egg

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
remove the pie dough from the refrigerator and let it
rest, still wrapped, at room temperature for 20 minutes.

2. On a clean, lightly floured work surface, roll the dough
into a large, 1/8-inch-thick circle about 14 inches in
diameter. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet
and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine the apples, granulated sugar,
cornstarch, lemon juice, and cinnamon and use your hands
to mix until the apples are well coated with the mixture.
Set aside for ten minutes at room temperature to let the
flavors meld.

4. Using your hands, transfer the apples to the middle of
the pie dough, leaving the majority of the juices behind to
prevent the bottom of the pie from getting soggy. Spread
the apples out in an even circle on the surface of the
dough, leaving a two-inch border around the edge.

5. Viewing the pie like you would a clock, start at the 12
o'clock mark and gently fold a portion of the dough snugly
over the apples and over itself to make a nice pleat in the
dough. Repeat the folding-and-pleating process, moving
clockwise along the edge of the dough, until all the edges
of the dough are pleated and folded. (Your pie should be 
a rustic circle with the apples showing in the center. It will
resemble a pizza, just with more crust.)

6. Transfer the baking sheet to the refrigerator and let the
pie rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the
center of the oven and preheat to 375ºF. 

7. Remove the pie from the refrigerator. In a small bowl or
glass measuring cup, combine the egg with one tablespoon
water and whisk to combine. Using a pastry brush, brush
the egg wash over the edges of the pastry. Liberally
sprinkle the edges of the pie with the turbinado sugar.

8. Transfer the pie to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF and bake for 30
minutes more or until the crust is golden brown, the juices
are thick, and the apples are soft. Remove the pie from
the oven and let cool for 20 minutes before slicing and
digging in.

 

For Jackie's pie crust recipe and other treasured American heritage recipes, you can purchase The Country Cat cookbook through these links:
Powell's Books
Amazon
IndieBound
Barnes & Noble

 

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