As we move into the first month of the new year, we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Born on January 15, 1929, King would become a Baptist minister and civil rights activist who would play a pivotal role in ending legal segregation and the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
A wonderful way to honor this remarkable man is in the kitchen! Did you know he thoroughly enjoyed traditional soul food such as fried chicken, sweet potatoes and pecan pie?
Check out this delicious (and slightly healthier adaptation) of King’s traditional fried chicken recipe, courtesy of Self Magazine:
Pecan-Crusted Chicken Strips
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp coarsely chopped pecans
1/8 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 egg white
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, then coat a baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray. In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, pecans, salt and pepper. In a second bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy, and place the flour in a third bowl.
2. Start by covering a chicken tender in flour, and then dip it into the egg white. Press both sides into the bread crumb/pecan mixture, then place on the baking sheet. Repeat for all tenders, and bake them for 15 minutes, turning once. They should be crispy and golden brown when you take them out.
Then, pair your chicken with some delectable candied sweet potatoes!
Candied Sweet Potatoes
6 large sweet potatoes
1/2 cup butter
2 cups white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
- Peel the potatoes and slice.
- Melt your butter in a skillet and add in the slices of sweet potato.
- Meanwhile mix your dry ingredients together (salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar).
- Cover the sweet potatoes with the sugar mixture and stir together in the skillet.
- Turn your heat down to low and let simmer for approximately an hour. You will know when the potatoes are near finished because the sauce will turn dark and will start to thicken and candy.
- Once the potatoes are candied, stir in the vanilla and serve.
Finally, try your hand at this amazing Pecan Pie recipe for a big finish to Dr. King’s birthday!
Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie
Makes 8 servings
3/4 stick unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 cups pecan halves (1/2 pound)
Accompaniment: whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
- Preheat oven to 350°F with a baking sheet on middle rack.
- Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round and fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold overhang under and lightly press against rim of pie plate, then crimp decoratively. Lightly prick bottom all over with a fork. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes (or freeze 10 minutes).
- Meanwhile, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in corn syrup, vanilla, zest, and salt. Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl, then whisk in corn syrup mixture.
- Put pecans in pie shell and pour corn syrup mixture evenly over them. Bake on hot baking sheet until filling is set, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool completely.
What are some of your favorite soul food recipes? How do you celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday?