Bobby Deen, son of famed Southern chef Paula Deen, has recently returned from a tour promoting his new book, “From Mama’s Table to Mine: Everybody’s Favorite Comfort Foods at 350 Calories or Less.”
In it, he takes some of the fat- and sugar-laden recipes his mother built her culinary career on and adapts them for the more health-conscious gourmet. It’s similar to what he does on his Wednesday Cooking Channel show, “Not My Mama’s Meals” (which also airs Sundays on Food Network).
While on the tour, people have been concerned that the effort could cause a mother-son rift.
“They want to know if my mom is mad at me,” Deen tells Zap2it, “for what I’m doing to her recipes. I get that question a lot: ‘Is your mom mad?’ She’s not. When I was a kid growing up, my mom was the one who taught me how to cook, obviously.
“She told me that whatever you’re cooking, go exactly by the recipe the first time you do it, so you know exactly what it’s supposed to be; then, any time after, make it your own, do what you like.”
In the episode airing on April 3, called “Fresh Catch of the Day,” Deen heads to Dorian’s Seafood Market in New York to clean and cut up the freshest salmon and calamari while also picking up lump crabmeat.
It’s the sort of thing Deen is used to cooking, since he lives near the water in Georgia’s Low Country.
“I can walk out the end of my dock,” he says, “and get blue crab. I can get shrimp. We eat lots and lots of seafood here.”
As to what recipe transformation worked best, Deen cites his “Unfried Chicken,” saying, “If you’ve got a hankering for fried chicken, and it’s Wednesday night, it’s not Sunday after church — which is the appropriate time to eat all the fried chicken you can handle — it’s a good alternative.”
To make it, you preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a large cast-iron skillet — a must, says Deen, for any Southern cook — with nonstick spray over medium heat. Sprinkle eight skinless, boneless, trimmed chicken thighs with Paula Deen house seasoning (a cup of salt, a quarter-cup garlic powder and a quarter-cup black pepper – there will be extra you can use later), then toss them in a coating mix made with a quarter-cup low-fat buttermilk, two egg whites, a half-teaspoon hot sauce, and the zest and juice of a lemon.
Then, having bashed one-and-a-quarter cups of cornflakes into crumbs, dip the chicken into the crumbs, press so they stick, then put the thighs in the skillet and in the oven. Bake until golden brown or cooked through, as indicated by a meat thermometer that registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit, or for about 40-45 minutes.
“It’s very satisfying,” Deen says. “I’ve got to go with the chicken.”