Fried Chicken: Think outside the bucket

Written by on January 26, 2011 in Baltimore Bites - No comments
SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN
1-1/2 cups flour
pepper, to taste
6 eggs
2 cups ground saltine crackers
1 fryer chicken OR 2 breasts and 4 legs
vegetable oil

Wash and pat dry chicken pieces with paper towel. Place the chicken in a plastic bag with the flour and pepper and shake until coated. Do 2-3 pieces at a time.

Beat eggs and place in a bowl. Place ground saltine crackers in a separate bowl. Roll each chicken piece separately in the egg mixture until coated, and then in ground saltine crackers. (Note: You will have to wash your hands occasionally as fingers become coated too! If you are low on the egg mixture or saltines, simply add more of each.)

Heat vegetable oil (I use canola) in a deep-sided frying pan—about 1-1/2 to 2 inches of oil.

When hot, carefully put in individual pieces of chicken using tongs. (Be careful with the number of chicken pieces you put into the pan. If you place too many in the pan the oil may overflow if your pan is too shallow. If necessary, cook one batch and then another.)

Brown about five minutes on one side and then turn chicken pieces over with tongs to brown the other side.
Turn heat down to low and cover with lid. Cook 20-25 minutes. Remove chicken from the frying pan and drain the chicken pieces on paper towels.

Note: This dish is good either hot or cold. I usually use two pans and make double the recipe and cook it the day before to serve cold for a picnic the next day.

“A Taste of Fells Point” is available for $25 at the Preservation Society, 1726 Thames St., Fells Point. Buyers can also order online at www.preservationsociety.com/fpcookbook.html.

In Baltimore, crabcakes will excite all kinds of controversy. Do you use bread crumbs? What kind? How much? Mustard? Powdered or prepared? Egg? Mayo? Both? Arguing about crabcakes provides hours of fun.

In the rest of the country, fried chicken fills that role. Everyone thinks their mother (or grandmother) made the best fried chicken ever, and any deviation from that recipe is met with scorn and indignation.

There are two basic schools of thought on fried chicken preparation: dunking or dredging. Dunkers coat their chicken in batter and fry; dredgers drag their chicken through flour or through a series of flour, eggs and crumbs, and then fry.
There is also an oven-fried school, but it is a pale imitation of fried chicken, a depressing, skinless, boneless lumpen thing eaten with knife and fork. Forget it, hon.

Nope, fried chicken is made to be eaten with the hands. Fry the chicken like an American! Skin on, bone in.

Jo Van Wely, a retired university administrator, jewelry artist, potter and Fells Point habitue, contributed her grandmother’s classic Southern Fried Chicken recipe to the Taste of Fells Point cookbook, which was published in 2009 by the Preservation Society.

“You do realize that this is one of the eight things I make?” laughs Jo, who is married to a gourmet cook. “I usually don’t even think about recipes.”

Her husband Bruce, a computer analyst, usually does the cooking in the family.

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