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The Pioneer Woman Review: “Big House Clean Up”

The Drummond family is cleaning up the homestead, from stick collecting, sweeping the barn, straightening the garage and weeding the grounds.

After a hard day’s work, the crew will definitely be hungry and ready for a good old hearty picnic, provided by The Pioneer Woman, of course.

I just love when Ree starts with dessert and today she is making individual, casual Key Lime Pies. She’s going the ‘from scratch’ route and making her own lime curd. It’s a combination of fresh lime juice, sugar, butter and a bunch of eggs.

Ree Photo

She’s doing something a little different and using the entire egg, as opposed to traditional lemon or lime curd that just calls for the yolks. To make sure she doesn’t have any lumps, Ree runs the curd through a strainer leaving her with a smooth and silky curd. She layers a simple graham cracker crust, a scope of lime curd and a dollop of fresh whipped cream into disposable plastic cups.

It’s surprising that she didn’t serve these Mini Key Lime Pies in her trusty Ball Canning Jars because their lids make them perfect for meals on the go.

Next is Ree’s Perfect Potato Salad. She processes her boiled potatoes through a food mill to achieve a smooth potato salad texture. The smooth texture reminds me more of mashed potatoes as opposed to potato salad, but her flavorful add ins seem to put some texture back into the salad, saving it from like wall paper paste.

No one likes wall paper paste for potato salad. Speaking of flavorful add ins, a unique element in Ree’s potato salad (even though the rest is very similar to most other potato salad recipes out there) is the addition of hard boiled eggs. Ree just slices them up and adds them to her potatoes. She also adds mayo, mustard, pickles, green onions and dill. A quick mix and a chill and this salad is ready for the picnic.

As the main event of the Drummond Family picnic, she’s making some good ol’ Fried Chicken. Now, we’ve all seen about a billion and one ways (no exaggeration) to make fried chicken, and they all claim to be the best.

So what makes this fried chicken different than most? Honestly, not a lot. She soaks her chicken in buttermilk for several hours and uses a seasoned up flour mixture to coat. Pretty common technique. The one thing that she does differently, though, is mix a bit of buttermilk in with her flour coating (just a bit) to create these little clumps of coating that will fry up to be crunchy little nibbly bits on the pieces of fried chicken.

Okay, so she did teach me something new. Ree fries up the chicken in a shallow pan of hot oil to crisp up the breading then finishes the pieces in the oven to avoid burning the outside. Basic or not, the golden fried chicken looks fantastic.

To finish the picnic menu, Ree whips up a very vibrant and colorful coleslaw. The colors of this coleslaw make it quite inviting, not like the soupy white stuff you get alongside your typical picnic food. She uses red and green cabbage as well as grated carrots and thinly sliced red and yellow bell pepper.

The dressing is pretty straightforward with whole milk, mayo, vinegar, sugar and salt. Ree adds a bit of hot sauce to kick up the flavor beyond the ordinary. The ingredients get all tossed together with the dressing and topped with some cilantro leaves for freshness.

Ree loads up the truck with her picnic fare and heads back to the house to feed her hardworking family. The homestead is all spruced up and the fried chicken disappears at an alarming rate. After everyone is fed, they all head down to the bon fire and start burning the enormous mountain wood and logs that they collected during their cleanup.

The Drummonds don’t mess around with a clean up day. Or a picnic day. And this is a picnic full of unpretentious comfort food that would be welcomed at any picnic. Or bon fire.

NOTE: Remember to bookmark our section of Pioneer Woman recipes!