The small window between spring and summer is the time of year when I feel most comfortable. June and July can be great--I love outdoor concerts, summer dresses, stoop sale season, and our new tradition of grilling down in Florida with our family over Fourth of July. But full-on summer can be really gross in New York. I hate feeling sweat drip down my back while waiting on a muggy subway platform and I really hate the city's distinct garbagey smell that wafts up around late August.
Even though late spring has been weirdly overcast and rainy here in New York, we've had a few sunny and breezy days here and there, and the fact that they are rare somehow makes them seem even more wonderful. It almost felt like a little vacation to laze about in Prospect Park a few weekends ago with some covert booze.
And some cheddar biscuits:
And spiked pink lemonade:
Which is exactly what we did with our friends Audrey and Will. I brought salad and dessert and they handled the lemonade, oven-fried chicken, and biscuits. And a frisbee, which we tossed about in an embarrassing fashion, probably due to the spiked lemonade. (Audrey has a heavy hand with the vodka.)
Prospect Park picnic
Spiked pink lemonade
Oven-fried picnic chicken
Audrey said this recipe, from Epicurious, tasted like Shake-n-Bake. Which is not a bad thing, per se. Even though the recipe says "fried" this chicken is really breaded and baked. If you're looking for greasy goodness, this might not be the recipe for you. However, it is totally picnic-worthy: very tasty and held up better than the traditional fried version would. The recipe even comes with transportation tips. Very helpful!
(Serves 6 to 8 people)
2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
4 large garlic cloves, lightly crushed with the side of a chef's knife, then peeled
8 chicken thighs and 8 chicken drumsticks (5 pounds total), skin on
Cooking oil spray
1 1/2 cups plain dried bread crumbs
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
In large bowl, combine buttermilk and garlic. Add chicken pieces and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours. Arrange rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Line large shallow baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking oil. In large bowl, combine bread crumbs, oregano, basil, marjoram, salt, and pepper; toss well to blend.
Drain chicken and discard buttermilk. Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge chicken in bread crumbs until well coated, then place, skin side up, on baking sheet. Spray pieces lightly with cooking oil. Bake chicken until golden and cooked through, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
Transportation tips: If you cook the chicken just before leaving, you can transport it warm, uncovered, in a basket lined with foil and paper towels. If you make it a day ahead, let it cool, then refrigerate it overnight. Pack the cold chicken in a covered plastic container lined with parchment paper.