Perfect Fried Chicken

| 10/14/2015 10:04:00 AM

Tags: Sunday dinners, fried chicken, Depression recipe, Coalyard Charlie,

fried chickenI am going to take you back a long, long, time ago, right after World War II, and just after Lloyd Brand had returned from Iwo Jima, with his sea bag slung over his shoulder filled with Japanese war relics, pistols, swords, etc. 

My dad had just received a huge raise (he was now making $50 a week and still able to save), and we were in the pink as we bought a "new" 9-inch television. Times were good, Dad was even able to buy a new Nash Rambler. 

The entire country was back to work and President Roosevelt had made all these promises about something called Social Security that would last and take care of us for a life time; a chicken in every pot; it was the best of times and the worst of times …

As a result of our good fortune and to display his love for the family, Dad would pile us all into that new Nash Rambler – my brother David, sister Celine, Aunt Mae, and her brother, Uncle Johnny, Mother and, if he was good, our Irish setter, Barney – and cart us off to a little town called Cicero, just northwest of Syracuse, and west of Rome, New York. After 45 or 50 miles, as I recall, we went through several small upstate New York towns, past Verona Beach up at Lake Sylvan, through Bridgeport, well, you get the idea. It took us 1-1/2 hours to get there and the Rambler felt like a water bed on wheels. Small towns, farms and country roads made for a nice Sunday drive. 

However, our destination was a little restaurant called "Chicken in the Ruff." They had the best fried chicken anywhere, and I do mean anywhere. The recipe was discovered quite by accident during the Depression years, when a skillet of fried chicken had been cooking for about 10 minutes and, for whatever reason, got dumped out on the grass. The husband told his wife to just heat up more lard and continue cooking it. They cooked with cornstarch a lot back then as it was readily available and flour was more of a luxury item. At any rate, he shook the chicken off and dredged it again in cornstarch, salt and pepper, brought the temperature of the lard up (took about 10 minutes) and finished frying the chicken.

After tasting it, he declared to his wife, "This is the best fried chicken we ever 'et." It was never "ate" back then, and I don't know the origin of "'et."

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