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 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?