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Carol Perkins: Fried Chicken Blues
Previous Column: The Trip
By Carol Perkins
In my growing up years, fried chicken for Sunday dinner or supper was as predictable as cold milk and cornbread. If the chicken came from the backyard or chicken house, the preparation was gruesome. When we no longer had chickens, the fryers were bought at the grocery store. There were no individual packages of legs, thighs, breasts, or wings. Homemakers bought a whole chicken and cut it up, rolled it in flour with some salt and pepper, and cooked it in an iron skillet for an hour. That's what my mother did.
Every community had a grocery store with a fresh meat display. The variety was mainly pork chops, a roast, fryers looking like rubber ducks, hamburger meat freshly ground, fresh sausage, and even sandwich meat. The shopper picked the pieces from the display, the butcher wrapped them in white paper, and wrote on top the price. Life was simple and the meat was fresh without unwanted preservatives.
When I started cooking, I thought I had to fry chicken on Sunday.
I had never cut up a chicken, so my first attempt was disastrous. I could cut the legs from the rest because they were obvious, but I didn't know where to cut the other pieces to make the breasts look like they should. Part of the thighs were attached to the breast and the wings were hooked to the thighs. Even my Betty Crocker Cookbook had no directions for cutting up a fryer.
I followed what my mother had done and dropped the floured pieces in a skillet of lard, but I didn't have the patience to flip and turn each piece as she did. She covered and uncovered, depending on how fast the pieces browned. My chicken on the platter was greasy, crustless, and shriveled. I tried a few more times, but never got the hang of frying a chicken. Never.
Guy recalled how his family had fried chicken every Sunday after church. "By the time we got home and I had changed clothes, the table was full of food with the chicken in the middle."
His mother, like many during that time, probably started cooking before he got out of bed.
There are families who eat together every Sunday and mothers who still start cooking, even the night before, so the food will be ready after church. How wonderful that would be to have everyone together. However, my crew would have a roast smothered in gravy and mashed potatoes! No fried chicken unless it came from KFC.
You can contact Carol at email@example.com.
This story was posted on 2022-08-05 13:42:18
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