Crispy fried chicken and green bean salad prepared by Jeff Fleming, chef on the Hines - Furlong Line
One of Paducah's own, chef Jeff Fleming, has been crafting delicious dishes for the Paducah area for years. His journey in the food industry began after graduating from Paducah Tilghman High School. With nothing more than a true passion for food and a desire to succeed, a big break came at an early age.
Fleming's first official job was as a catering manager for Bob Holman, a well-known and respected local businessman. Holman opened the first Dairy Queen in Kentucky followed by Bob’s Drive-In, Roberto’s, Red Heifer, Holman House, and Holman House Cafeteria.
After realizing his calling, the plan was to start a chef training program at Sheraton USA. Before career plans had time to sprout, Cynthia Gardner, owner of Cynthia’s Ristorante, asked Fleming to come to work for her. He would start under an apprenticeship rule with plans to become a sous chef.
After leaving Cynthia’s, Fleming became head chef at B. Russell's. Then, he ran the kitchen at Toucan’s for a ‘New York minute’ before landing in the galleys on the riverboat.
Fleming has been cooking for the crew on the Hines - Furlong Line for nine years. “The pace on the river is different from restaurant life. It’s much more peaceful and a pleasant change,” said Fleming.
Saturday nights are usually steak nights, however, Fleming was out of beef so he made his super crispy fried chicken. Fleming is one of those unique chefs that loves to share recipes. Today, he’s going to share with the readers of WKY Community Living his fried chicken and green bean salad recipe. Both dishes would make for a fabulous picnic.
Fried Chicken Recipe:
One whole chicken (cut up)
Two cups of buttermilk
2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
A bit of dry rub (see directions below)
Dash of hot sauce
4 C Self-Rising flour
4 T. salt
2 T. black pepper
2 T. granulated garlic
T. onion powder
T. chili powder
T. Italian seasoning
Soak chicken overnight in seasoned buttermilk (salt and pepper, a bit of dry rub, dash of hot sauce). Place in a large plastic ziplocked bag inside a bowl (in case of leakage). NOTE: Dry rub (salt/pepper, onion powder, Italian seasoning, paprika, and garlic powder...about 1/2 tsp. of each).
Drain well & bread about 30 mins before cooking. Cook at 275° in a deep fryer or electric skillet for 15-20 mins
"I came up with this side dish about 20 years ago with a little inspiration from a dish by Jacques Pépin," Jeff Fleming
Green Bean Salad Recipe:
2 lbs. fresh green beans (Really no substitutes here)
1/2 a small red onion fine julienne (can be omitted)
2 lemons juice & zest
3 - 4 cloves finely chopped garlic
3-4 T chopped fresh oregano (dried doesn’t work as well can subs. fresh basil)
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil.
Salt & pepper to taste.
Bring a pot of salted water to a simmer. Sprinkle in a good tablespoon of baking soda (helps retain color). Add the green beans until al dente. Be careful not to overcook if you want a little bite.
While this is happening zest the lemons & juice into a large bowl & add garlic and red onion. Slowly whisk in the olive oil making a light emulsion (basically a simple dressing). Add the chopped oregano and salt & pepper to taste.
When green beans are just barely tender remove from water & add immediately to dressing and check seasoning. Adjust salt & pepper again to taste. At this point, you can do two things (I prefer chilled). You can serve immediately as a side but I prefer to chill for at least 2 hours & serve more as a salad side.