Chicken Dance

There’s a little cabin in the sky, Mister

For me and for you

I feel that it’s true somehow

Can’t you see that cabin in the sky, Mister

An acre or two of heavenly blue to plow

We will be oh so gay

Eat fried chicken every day

As the angels go sailing by

          -From the Broadway Musical “Cabin In The Sky” (1940) (Vernon Duke / John Latouche)


When my sister Jen heard that I was frying chicken for my family Sunday night, including the visiting Vermonters, she told me she thinks I might be the only remaining person in the world who still fries chicken.

“Well, there might be five or so in the entire world,” she said, “but you’re the only one I know of.”

There you have it. Fried chicken. It’s what’s for dinner.

Sunday night was the first time I was able to prepare a meal for the whole gang since they arrived.

“What would you like me to cook for you?” I asked our daughter.

“Whatever you would like,” she said. (She’s more polite than the rest of the family.)

“It doesn’t matter to me,” I said. “What sounds good to you?”

The sheepish look she got in her eye should have given me the answer immediately.

“Weeeeelllll,” she said, “I have been hungry for your fried chicken.”

Whaaaaaaaat? Heather too? She’s got celiac disease and can’t eat gluten! Doesn’t that count for something?

There isn’t a single time – not one single time – that I ask Bill McLain what he would like me to make him for a special dinner that he doesn’t say fried chicken. It runs in the family. It’s the one thing I make that will bring everyone to the table in a way that, say, eggplant and kale casserole doesn’t.

I fry chicken the way my mother fried chicken. She was taught how to fry chicken by my grandmother. I only learned as an adult that it isn’t necessarily the way everyone fries chicken. And, in fact, I only learned a couple of months ago from a Food Network program that I fry chicken the way they fry chicken in the Midwest as opposed to the South. Thanks Amy Thielen from Food Network’s Heartland Kitchen. I thought I was an anomaly. The main difference is that you fry the chicken until it’s brown, but not completely cooked, and then finish it in the oven. Instead of being really crispy, it’s more tender and falls off the bone. Yum.

Frying chicken is messy. There really is no way around that fact. The grease splatters. If I don’t get snapped by grease at least once in the chicken frying process, I’m doing something wrong. I have ruined many a shirt by frying chicken without wearing an apron. Shame on me.

By the way, I used gluten-free flour to accommodate our daughter.

So am I really the only remaining person who fries chicken? Do you or does someone you know fry chicken?

I have provided this recipe before, but it’s worth repeating……

My Family’s Fried Chickenfried chicken

1 frying chicken, cut into 10 pieces (my mother always cut each breast into two pieces}
1-2 c. flour, well-seasoned with salt and pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper
Butter and vegetable oil, half and half, deep enough to fill a pan to a depth of about a quarter of an inch

Preheat the butter and oil in the fry pan until it’s hot enough to sizzle if you flick a drop of water into the pan. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour, shaking off the excess. Lay the pieces skin-side-down into the hot oil. Cook until it’s nicely brown, 5-6 minutes. Turn over and do the same on the other side. It doesn’t have to be cooked all the way through. Only fry a few pieces at a time or your shortening will cool down too much and your chicken pieces won’t brown nicely.

As you remove the chicken pieces from the pan, place them into a roasting pan. (Conversely, you can place them temporarily on a plate and return all of the pieces to the pan to finish. Make sure your pan is oven-proof and has a lid if you choose this option.) Cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil and place into a preheated 350 degree oven for an hour or so until the chicken is cooked through and falls off the bone.

Nana’s Notes: I’m convinced the key to good fried chicken is a cast-iron pan. I would never fry chicken any other way. I’m a cast-iron using fried chicken snob. What can I say?

8 thoughts on “Chicken Dance

  1. Does Kentucky Fried Chicken count as someone I know who fries chicken besides you?! I wonder who in the world taught Grammie to fry chicken. Weren’t all of her friends Swiss? Rumor on the street of this great new way to make chicken…..

  2. Love, love fried chicken. My Mom taught me the same way only added Paprica to the flour also. However, she wasn’t that persnickety about the iron skillet. The oven finishes it up nicely and gives one the chance to clean up the frying mess before company comes.

    • Shirley, that is so true. I love to be able to have the chicken in the oven so I can have the kitchen reasonably clean by time the family arrives.

  3. Gluten free fried chicken… You are a saint! KFC or the grocery deli makes ours, and I can’t eat it. Even Mom quit frying chicken years ago.

  4. Homemade fried chicken is so much better than anything else. Except maybe White Fence Faem which I’ve only had once or the old Wayside Inn which burned down years ago. Growing up my dad made fried chicken frequently to help mom out with dinner. He requests it every year for his birthday but unfortunately ends up with it from Safeway because my mom can’t take the mess (or the amount she has to make for my 3 nephews). I can still smell it frying in the kitchen. Yum.

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