Submitted by Chris Alward. Chris is Director of Market Development at Local Food Plus. That means he’s one of the people responsible for certifying food as local and sustainable food so consumers can make better choices.
This photo was taken the very day Chris’ Granny taught him to make fried chicken.
My mother moved to Eastern Canada from Louisiana in the early seventies and went from boiling crawfish to boiling lobster. Most years, we’d trek from New Brunswick to New Orleans and, after a long day in 3 or 4 airports, we’d wind up in the small southern town where my Granny lived. We’d usually spend a couple weeks fishing on the bayou, shooting fireworks, complaining about the heat, and being teased about our “ehs” and “aboots”.
But there was never any joking around when it came to food.
Granny’s house was where I complimented her pumpkin pie only to learn that I’d eaten sweet potatoes (which I refused to eat at the time), where I learned that a bowl of Butter Beans doesn’t contain any actual “butterbeans”, where I learned about fishing and hunting and respecting the animal (“If you ain’t gonna eat it, then don’t shoot it”, my uncles would preach). I learned about po’boys (aka subs) and crawfish and roux and gumbo and cast iron and cornbread. Those last two are inseparable, apparently. You can’t get a good crust without a good cornbread pan – it turns out all that cast iron pans are cornbread pans, and that these two go together like macaroni and cheese.
Which goes great with fried chicken, and my Granny was a legend when it came to fried chicken.
For a long time, Granny’s secret friend chicken recipe remained a secret. None of us knew exactly how she made the magic happen. Frankly, I don’t think any of us cared until we grew to that age where family traditions become important. For as long as I can remember, she was the only one in the family that made it. When she passed a few years ago, a couple of us picked up the torch. I was fortunate to have a one-on-one lesson from the master, and while my chicken isn’t EXACTLY like hers, it’s pretty darn close.
I’ll pass you the recipe to you the way it was passed to me – in prose rather than ‘recipe-speak’. There are no secret herbs and spices. Just a few ingredients treated simply, with love. If you must, the ingredients can be tweaked to your liking. Seasoning can be adjusted, brine can be flavoured, herbs and spices can be added to the flour. But I always find the simplest preparation is the best. Just make sure you go heavy on the love.
Cut up a chicken. Soak it overnight in salted water. The next day, heat about an inch of oil in a cornbread pan. Drain and dry the chicken pieces. Put about a cup of self rising flour in a zipper bag with a little salt and some pepper. Put a piece of chick in, close the bag, and shake it around. Repeat with the rest of the chicken pieces. When the oil is hot, fry a few at a time until they’re cooked through and golden brown on both sides. Cut one with a knife to see if it’s done. Drain the chicken on paper towels like bacon. Sprinkle with salt if you want.