Before I met William, my idea of fried chicken was the stuff that the Colonel sells by the bucket.
Every summer we would drive from New Jersey to visit my grandmother in Florida.
Some of my fondest memories are of blistering August afternoons sitting on the beach in Dunedin turning various shades of red and eating volumes of original recipe and extra crispy. Wet naps were optional, sand was not.
The first time we visited William's hometown in North Carolina after we were married, my concept of fried chicken changed forever.
From my first bite of Parker's fried chicken in Greenville I knew I would never eat chicken from a bucket ever again unless I was desperate. And then there were the corn sticks and the hush puppies!
Since it was my first time meeting my husband's extended family, half the population of the state dropped in to visit every day we were there (I started to feel as if I was being vet-checked and wouldn't have been surprised if someone had asked if they could take a look at my teeth). But the good news was, everybody that came to see us, brought food.
I was in hog heaven. Not only did I experience chicken enlightenment, I had my first East Carolina pulled pork barbecue sandwich and decided that Farmville had to be close to Nirvana. How could it not be with Jack Cobb's at one end of town and Contentnea Creek BBQ on the other?
I may never be able to replicate Aunt Ann's marvelous turkey gravy with pieces of hardboiled eggs, but, after much trial and error, I can fry a mean piece of chicken.
Buttermilk fried chicken
1 3-4 pound fryer
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons Creole seasonings
(Tony Chachere’s or Zatarain’s)
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups unbleached all purpose white flour
Cut the chicken into 8 pieces, removing the backbone.
Put the buttermilk, seasoning and pepper into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and mix well.
Add the chicken, close the bag and turn it over a few times to coat the chicken with the mixture then put the bag of chicken in the refrigerator to marinate for at least two hours or overnight.
Put the flour in a plastic bag or large bowl. Remove the chicken pieces one at a time and shake in the bag or dredge in the flour in the bowl to coat.
Place on a baking sheet and let the coated chicken sit in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. If the coating is wet, shake or dredge in the flour for a second time (makes a crispier coating).
Gently shake off the excess flour and deep fry four pieces at a time for 20 minutes, starting with the legs and thighs. Place the first four pieces on a baking sheet in a warm oven while the second batch is frying.