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I Like My Chicken Fryin' Size

by Ron Williams
December 2003

The Yellowhammer, Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, Great Carolina Wren, no matter what is listed, are NOT the State Birds of Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, or South Carolina.

It is The Chicken. The State Bird of all the Southern States, and probably the rest of the USA, too. Really, have you ever fried an eagle? If a Bald Eagle was tasty, there’d be Eagle Farms everywhere and every Piggly Wiggly would be filled with Tyson Eagle Wings…..

…which allows me to relate one of my favorite jokes: What’s the difference between a Northern Zoo and a Southern Zoo? In Southern Zoos, they post the recipes on the cages….

The chicken: You can fry it, grill it, barbeque it, stew it, broil it, fricassee it… fight ‘em, wonder why one crossed the road, and in the privacy of your home or rig, choke your own …cluck, cluck … yeehaw!!!

And in these parts, everybody’s mama always fixed the best ever fried chicken…people have been shot, even kilt deader than 900 Hells over whose mama fried chicken best. Fact is, in the South, a lot of people get shot over “Mama Talkin’”! Sayin’ stuff like: “Didn’t I see yer mama come crawling out from under my pickup truck this morning?” and so forth.

Even in the sacred pages of Gritz Magazine, there have been several recipes offered for fried chicken. My children’s mama who is also my wife, fixes up great fried chicken. It’s a bit more modern in that she uses skinless and boneless breasts, but the taste is as traditional as a bucket of lard.

So, I’m gonna let Sandra tell y’all about her way of fixing up fried chicken:
At the age of fifty, maybe I finally got some things down… and fried chicken is one of ‘em. This isn’t a “written down” sort of recipe, so you’ll have to “wing” it… <grin> I do use skinless, boneless chicken breast cut into two or three strips (don’t use the “chicken tenders” – there’s a tendon in those that’s unpleasant.)

My youngest son is semi-vegetarian and if Jesse sees an animal bone in any meat, he won’t touch it. That’s why I started using the boneless breast instead of cut up fryers.

It’s best to soak the chicken pieces in a mixture of whole buttermilk and hot pepper sauce (like Texas Pete, or Louisiana)overnight – but at least an hour. We buy Louisiana brand pepper sauce by the gallon at our local Save-A-Lot for $3.99 – you can see Ron’s picture with a gallon of sauce for the subscription ad for Gritz!

Mix some seasoning salt - I like to use Emeril’s, but Paul Prudhomme’s, Tony’s, even Lawry’s is ok – in with WHITE LILY SELF-RISING Flour. No substitute. If it weren’t for White Lily, the South would never rise again… we’d be eating bagels instead of biscuits. Drive to Knoxville (where it’s made) or order online, you have to have White Lily Flour to live.

Dip the chicken pieces in the seasoned White Lily self-rising flour. Heat up 2 to 3 inches of vegetable oil in a deep cast iron skillet (like a Lodge Chicken Fryer)until hot, but not hot enough to catch the house on fire. Fry the chicken strips in batches, don’t crowd the skillet, until Kentucky Colonel golden brown, and drain on wire racks over paper towels.

Serve with a dipping sauce. Maurice’s Spicy Carolina BBQ sauce (mustard based) is a favorite. Tiger Sauce is good, too; but my favorite is a Thai sweet hot chili sauce.

The chicken has long inspired musicians. A whole style of guitar playing, using a Telecaster and picking with a flat pick and your middle and ring fingers, is know as “Chicken Pickin’”, and is easily recognizable in many country music classics. There’s traditional fiddle tunes like, “Cluck Ole Hen”, “Cacklin’ Hen”, and “Chicken Reel”. Fried chicken is a mainstay in Rhythm & Blues songs, the most famous being Ike and Tina Turner’s “Chicken Shack”. Of course, there’s the 1962 classic P.E. all-time hit, “Chicken Fat” (“Pogo spring, alternate feet, higher!”). And one of my favorites (and the title piece for this article), Merle Travis’s, “I Like My Chicken Fryin’ Size”.

Yep, we like our chicken here in the South: young, tender, large breasted, slow… … … touchdown every morning, ten times..

Download Robert Preston’s 1962 “Chicken Fat”: http://www.daveross.com/songs/robertpreston.mp3

Do your own search for songs with “Chicken” in the title (more than 250) at www.songfile.com (and you can buy a mechanical license to record your version while there..)

The White Lily Flour company home page at www.whitelily.com

Order a 12 inch Lodge cast iron Chicken Fryer, item 10cf2, from Lodge Mfg. of South Pittsburg, TN online: https://secure.lodgemfg.com/storefront/products

Want great sauce and politically incorrect politics? Link online for Maurice’s Carolina Gold Barbeque Sauce and Mr. Bessinger’s unique story of the Rebel Flag and barbeque down in Columbia, SC: www.mauricesbbq.com

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