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Favorite Fried Chicken

If you’re new here, you need to know that food is memories for me. Almost any food brings up a memory or two for me. So when I start to write a blogpost about a topic (usually food), the first place my brain goes is memories about having/eating/experiencing the food. How about you? Today, I’m talking about chicken. And not just any chicken but really good fried chicken. Not KFC’s or other deep-fried chicken although deep frying food is delicious. You just don’t have to deep fry chicken to make great fried chicken. In fact, my mom NEVER deep-fried chicken and neither did my grandmother. I remember many a Sunday dinner with fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy and usually green beans (or something else green but since I was not in to green stuff as a kid, that was not the highlight for me).

To go one better, my grandmother actually raised chickens. This was long before today’s super bougie neighborhood chicken coops with 5 or 6 laying hens so you could have fresh eggs. Nope. These were farm chickens as in maybe a hundred birds that were used for eggs and dinner. So, my grandmother was an expert at wringing a chicken’s neck. My mom used to demonstrate the technique (I never saw my grandmother do it. I was too young, and they sold the farm so I missed out on that.) as a “pantomime”; she would not actually wring a live chicken’s neck. There’s a great story that she loved to tell on herself as a teenager about deciding she was going to fix her mom and dad dinner while they were out. She grabbed one of the chickens and tried to wring its neck but all she ended up doing was breaking its neck. So, the poor chicken flopped around the henyard until Mom could catch it and cut its head off with an ax. Farm life was/is brutal, make no mistake about that. She did eventually get the chicken dressed (that means plucking the feathers and cleaning the blood out) and then cut up to fry it. Breaking Down a Chicken My mother and grandmother knew how to break down a chicken. It was never a big deal for either of them to have a whole chicken to cut up for a chicken dinner. Years ago, you really couldn’t buy chicken parts. That is a modern phenomenon. We created a Skill Drill in the online class program to show you how to cut up a whole chicken. Why? It really shouldn’t be a novelty because it’s a way to save money at the grocery. When you buy chicken parts, you pay more money per chicken piece because you’re paying for the butcher to cut up the chicken. Right now, chicken parts can be up to almost $5 per pound because of inflation and scarcity hanging on from the pandemic. A whole chicken is a little less than $2 per pound. Quite a savings, right? Especially when you know how to cut it apart. You don’t just have to roast the whole bird. You can cut it into almost as many pieces as you need for your meal and then freeze the rest. I’ve always been a fan of buying whole chickens. Perfectly Fried Chicken And my mom always fried a whole chicken. Her contention was that filling a skillet with chicken made it all taste better. Oh, and she shallow fried chicken. That means a big heavy skillet with about an inch (or so) of Crisco melted into it. She would dump flour into a brown paper bag with lots of salt and pepper and then dredge the chicken parts in that flour by throwing them in the bag and shaking the crap out of the chicken in the bag. The chicken parts were then evenly coated with flour and seasonings. She would arrange them in the skillet and within 45 minutes, you had a whole chicken to eat. From breasts to legs, they were all cooked perfectly. Now back in the day, my grandmother fried her chicken in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop and while I do believe that you can’t beat a cast iron pan, my mom always swore by her heavy-duty electric skillet. I inherited that skillet and must admit…that skillet cooks amazing chicken.

Having fried chicken, whether I fry it or not, brings backs the fondest memories of my childhood. That was a traditional Sunday dinner at my grandmother’s house around the kitchen table that sat squarely in the middle of the kitchen. I couldn’t have been more than 4 or 5 years old because my grandfather was there, and he died when I was 5. I don’t remember the dinners specifically only that the chicken was delicious. Crispy, salty, juicy and the chicken-i-est chicken you could imagine. Chicken that doesn’t taste like today’s chicken. Chicken that made the best cream gravy because of all the crispy bits left in the bottom of the pan. And one of the reasons behind shallow frying chicken in a skillet. You can make the best gravy from the drippings and the crispies left behind. You can’t do that with a deep fryer! Fried chicken also makes great picnic food. If you have read some of my past blogposts, you also know that I love picnic food! It makes great picnic food because it is good whether hot or cold or at room temperature. Genius, right? In fact, I would venture to say that cold fried chicken tastes even better than hot or warm chicken right out of the pan. It seems like the cooling period gives the seasonings time to work their way into the meat and it’s also easy to eat because it’s not hotter than the surface of the sun. Mom liked to fry chicken early in the day and then save the pan drippings (in the pan) to make gravy later in the day. That way you had the perfect temperature to eat chicken and then hot gravy for the mashed potatoes. Or, we would just make a bunch of picnic food like cole slaw, baked beans, wilted lettuce, and cucumbers and onions (That’s another online class series, by the way.) and have picnic fried chicken. Any way you have it though, fried chicken is delicious! And what fun memories. How about you? Got any great memories of food in your life? Let us know and share in the comments. I’d love to hear about them.


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