As the first female police chief in Pecan Springs, Texas, Sheila Dawson has cracked many a mystery in collaboration with local sleuth China Bayles. Now Sheila puts her smarts to work, sifting through secrets to find a killer on the prowl…I enjoyed Albert's recent approach to character voice, shifting between the various leads, which brings more depth and insight to the story. She also includes her usual interesting segues into different local and cultivated herbs, as Cat's Claw, which give each book its title.
Larry Kirk, Pecan Springs’ computer guru, has been shot dead in his kitchen. At first Sheila believes it to be suicide, but further investigation reveals that Kirk’s death wasn’t self-inflicted. And the truth is reinforced by her friend China Bayles’ news—Larry recently asked her for legal advice in regards to a stalker.
As a police chief in a male-dominated force, Sheila meets many challenges, especially when her theories rock the boat in high-profile cases like that of George Timms, who was caught breaking into Larry’s shop. Now that Larry is dead, Sheila is sure the burglary is connected to the murder. But when Timms disappears instead of turning himself in, Sheila must prove she’s got what it takes to hunt down a predator who’s loose on the streets of Pecan Springs…
Also included at the back of these novels are several recipes mentioned in the course of events. None of which, in this case, called my name for dinner. However, the thought of oven-fried, spicy Texas style chicken did. Big Time. Love that smokey chipotle flavor. I adapted an oven-fried chicken recipe from Bon Appetit, and cut it in half, which was enough for the two of us with left-overs. I have given the full amount here, however.
Texas Style Oven-fried Chipotle Chicken
Adapted From Bon Appetit
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (I used kefir as I keep it going from the grains)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large onion, sliced
12 chicken pieces (breasts, thighs and drumsticks) with skin and bones
1 cup dry unseasoned breadcrumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika (I used smoked)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon minced fresh Cuban oregano (to sprinkle on top)
Whisk buttermilk, oil, chipotle powder, mustard, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in large bowl to blend well. Add onion, then chicken and turn to coat. Cover; chill at least 3 hours or up to 1 day, turning chicken occasionally.
Place racks on 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Whisk breadcrumbs, cheese, flour, thyme, paprika, cayenne and 1 teaspoon salt in large baking dish to blend. Remove chicken from marinade, allowing excess to drip off. Add chicken to breadcrumb mixture and turn to coat completely. Arrange chicken, skin side up, on racks on baking sheets. Let stand 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Drizzle butter over chicken. Bake until crisp, golden and cooked through, about 50 minutes. Sprinkle the oregano over and serve warm or at room temperature.
Just wonderful. I served it with fried polenta and a large salad, which you may or may not recognize from The Smitten Kitchen's Iceberg stack with blue cheese and radishes. Still can't believe I actually went out and bought a head of iceberg lettuce. Worth it though.
As you may have noticed, this is not a one dish, pot or bowl meal. It totally makes a mess. So, I really appreciated the lovely smokey, spicy flavors even more the following day, when I was not hot and tired. I keep telling myself we need an air conditioner in the kitchen. Truly
I will be submitting this post to the link-up at Simona's Novel Food, which I have been meaning to join for some time, and to Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking. You might read a book, get inspired to cook and join us. Or, just check out those sites.