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Fried Chicken and Champagne

Yes, you read that right. Fried chicken and champagne.
Not exactly expecting homestyle comfort food mixed with bubbling high-class French grapes? Me neither. But that’s exactly what happened at the annual friend feast I hosted this year.
Last year, we did four courses at friend feast. This year, well, we decided to make things a little more relaxed and doable — seeing that a three-year-old, one-year-old and our eight-month-old were in attendance. (Ever tried cooking with a baby at home? I’ll spare you the details but let’s just say it’s, well, interesting. You basically rush around like a cooking madperson during naptime and are continuously bribing the dog with treats to stay mum whenever the FedEx, UPS or mail carrier arrives just seems like is ALL THE TIME. Okay, I lied. You got many of the details. Sorry.)
So Ryan and I settled upon the idea of a full-on Americana family-style feast with all the fixin’s. We’re talking fried chicken as the star of the show, with supporting roles by mashed potatoes, Southern-style green beans, corn bread and chocolate-pecan pie.
We started with a little group appetizer buffet (pumpkin dip, cheese, crackers, nuts) that was paired with The Pass Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough (OMG, if you haven’t tried this wine, you must. It’s so delicious and so affordable. Like $9 affordable.) and Lips of Faith Le Terroir. Like last year, I handled the wine pairings and my friend Jim of KC Beer Scouts, who’s insanely gifted and knowledgeable at all things beer, paired the beer (remember: he wrote this whole guide!).
Then, it was on into the family-style meal.
And, honestly, this was a relatively easy meal to pull off. We made Elana Pantry’s Chocolate-Pecan Pie (it’s Paleo but no one knew) and the gluten-free corn bread (came from a box at TJ’s — we just added a little garlic powder and paprika to make it our own) the day before, plus soaked the chicken in buttermilk per The Domestic Man’s Gluten-Free Southern Fried Chicken recipe. Then, the morning of, we just got Spicy Southern Kitchen’s Southern Style Green Beans going. So. Many. Green. Beans. And a nice amount of bacon.
After we got these started, we transferred them to a slow cooker to free up space on our stovetop. Then we peeled potatoes, got them boiling and kept them boiling until soft and tender, poured a glass of that deliciously crisp and grapefruit-y sauv blanc for ourselves (cooking and wine drinking go together like kale and quinoa, y’all), and got to work on the chicken.
Seeing that we were feeding eight adults plus kiddos, the chicken frying went on for quite a while. And was pretty easy to manage — we did 13 minutes per side. Once the chicken was done, we drained the potatoes and then whipped them up with some whole milk, a little butter, and lots of salt and pepper (no recipe for this one — just what I’ve learned from my grandmother!) and dinner was served.
Jim paired the feast with Samuel Smith’s Winter Ale.
And here’s what I paired the fried chicken with after much research on the interwebs: Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Champagne! (Yes, I know the theme was Americana and thus far I’ve paired with a New Zealand and French wine, but it was just too perfect. And gave me a really good excuse to both drink this amazing wine again and say that I served fried chicken and champagne, which just fills my heart with glee. Oh, the meal juxtaposition.)
The champagne cut through the grease and heaviness of the meal and was savored by all. (But probably especially me.) Heaven.
We ended things with that chocolate-pecan pie and a delicious sweet potato pie my friend Katrina made, both topped with homemade whipped cream.
And another pairing! Jim paired the pie with Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout (um, yes please), and I poured tasters of a true American find: Anniversary Port from Adam Puchta Winery. (We picked a bottle up on our recent Hermann trip!) Both were damn delicious.
The evening ended with coffee with a lot of whipped cream on top and maybe a little Kahlua — and a little dancing brought on by the liquid courage.
So, yeah. Maybe not as fancy as years past, but still a gathering that was delicious, memorable and festive. Plus, really. How many times can you get all your friends together to dance to “Hotline Bling”? (That’s my kind of evening.) Jenn

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