Nothing quite so wonderful as fried chicken for Sunday dinner

features@beaufortgazette.comOctober 16, 2012 

During my childhood, there was never a doubt as to what meat would be on the menu for Sunday dinner. Nor was there ever any doubt what meat was being served on the dinner tables of my friends.

Fried chicken.

Everybody in my neighborhood ate it. Every mother knew how to cut up a chicken and taught this skill to her daughters.

There are only a certain number of pieces to a chicken. In my house, the drumsticks were for kids. The breast and the back were eaten by the adults. The piece with the wishbone in it was always quite popular. Each family member had a chance to choose this piece when the serving dish was passed around. It was an honor to be the one to break the wishbone and make a wish, and Daddy always allowed me to win by getting the longer piece of the bone.

Every Southern cook has a special recipe for fried chicken. Some cooks soak chicken pieces in buttermilk before they fry, while others say it is the cooking oil that does the trick. One thing I was taught: The cooking oil must be hot, and the chicken must be covered as it fries. Then it is the cast iron skillet that does the trick.

FRIED CHICKEN

Source: "Super Market Cookbook" (1940)

2 pounds cut-up chicken breasts, wings, legs, thighs or combination

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup white or yellow cornmeal

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup cooking oil

1 stick butter

Rinse and pat chicken dry with paper towels. Leave skin on for crispier chicken. In a brown paper bag combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, basil, paprika and pepper. Place one chicken piece at a time into bag with flour mixture. With the bag closed, shake chicken pieces until coated. Continue until all chicken has been completely floured.

Heat the oil and butter in skillet until hot; carefully add chicken to skillet, one piece at a time. Brown chicken turning only once, being careful not to pierce skin. When chicken is done, remove and place on paper towel until time for serving.

SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN

Source: "Waccamaw Favorites: Recipes from Pawley's Island, SC" (First edition, December 1955)

1-2 pounds chicken, cut for frying

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Cooking fat (about 2 inches in frying pan)

Salt and pepper each piece of chicken. Roll each piece in flour. Let stand 5 minutes and roll again. Place chicken in the hot fat and cover for five minutes. Remove top and if chicken is brown, turn to other side to brown. Cover again for five minutes. Remove cover and cook until done. Chicken cooked this way will be thoroughly cooked and tender. Remove to absorbent paper when browned.

SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN WITH MILK

Source: "Glascock Gourmet Gems-A Family Cookbook" (1982), by K. King Carow

1 frying size chicken

1 cup whole milk

1 cup flour

Salt and pepper

Cooking oil or Crisco shortening

Wash and pat chicken dry. Place in a bowl with milk. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from milk and drain. Salt and pepper chicken pieces and roll in flour, or put flour an chicken in paper bag and shake. Fry slowly in oil until golden brown on both sides, about 25 minutes. Place in 9-inch by 13-inch Pyrex dish in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

MRS. WILKES' SAVANNAH FRIED CHICKEN

Source: "The Food, Folklore and Art of Lowcountry Cooking," by Joseph Dabney

2 1/2 pound fryer, cut up and sprinkled with salt and pepper

2 1/4 tablespoons evaporated milk

2 tablespoons water

All-purpose flour, enough to "flour" the chicken parts before frying

Vegetable oil, enough to cover the chicken pieces when frying

In a bowl, marinate the chicken pieces in milk and water for about 10 minutes. Dip chicken pieces in bowl and shake off excess. Using a deep fry pan, heat the oil to 320 to 350 degrees and fry the chicken, making sure the chicken is covered with oil at all times. Fry until golden brown on both sides.

Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at features@beaufortgazette.com.

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