Rania Harris recently returned to Pittsburgh after spending time in the south. She brought back three new recipes all infused with some southern comfort.

Spicy Oven Fried Chicken

1¼ cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
4 garlic cloves – minced
2 teaspoons salt ~ divided
1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper ~ divided
8 – 8 ounce boneless chicken breasts – skin left on
1 ½ cups Panko bread crumbs
½ cup Asiago cheese – grated
½ cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons fresh thyme – minced
½ teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons melted butter


Whisk buttermilk, mustard, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon cayenne in a large bowl. Add in the chicken pieces and toss to coat. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight, turning chicken a few times.

Place a rack on each of two rimmed baking sheets. Mix bread crumbs, cheese, flour, thyme, paprika, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper in a bowl. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk mixture and allow the excess liquid to drip back into the bowl. Working in batches, add the chicken pieces to the breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat. Place the chicken pieces on the racks and allow to stand for 30 minutes at room temperature so that the coating will stick to the chicken.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Drizzle the butter over the chicken. Bake the chicken until browned and crisp for about 30 minutes or until the juices run clear and the crust on the chicken is nicely browned and crisp. Serve immediately.

Serves: 8

Savory Leek Bread Pudding

1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1 leek, trimmed, cleaned, and cut into ½ inch pieces.
1 onion, cut into ½-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1½ cups ½ –inch cubes day-old bread (crusts removed)
2 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 marjoram sprig, leaves removed and chopped
Tiny pinch of grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Butter six 6-ounce ramekins with ½ tablespoon of the butter.

In a large sauté pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat until the foam subsides. Add the leek and onion and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes more. Transfer to a large bowl, add the bread, and toss well.

Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat thoroughly. Whisk in the cream. Add to the bread mixture, stirring to moisten. Season with the marjoram, nutmeg, and salt and white pepper, mixing well.

Fill the ramekins with the bread mixture. Arrange the ramekins in a shallow baking dish lined with a kitchen towel and pour enough hot water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Carefully place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake until the bread pudding tops are golden, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6

Seared Pork Tenderloin with Mustard-Chive-Dijon Cream Sauce

3 tablespoons salt
12 cranks fresh-ground white pepper
6 – 2-ounce pork tenderloin medallions
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 shallots, chopped fine
¼ cup Chardonnay wine
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon chopped chives


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Salt and pepper the pork on all sides, using ¼ teaspoon and 1 crank of pepper for each side.

In a medium pan, heat oil over high heat. When the oil is almost smoking, add the pork and sear 1 minute on each side. Do not shake the pan; if it sticks, that’s more flavor for the sauce. Remove the pork from the pan and set the heat to low.

Add the shallots and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and reduce to 1 tablespoon of liquid. Add the cream and reduce by half. Stir in the mustard with a whip and add the salt and pepper to taste. Add the chopped chives.

Reheat the pork in the oven for 3 minutes and serve with the mustard sauce over the top.

Serves 2

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