My Fried Chicken Is Better Than Mom's!
Growing up in the South I loved mom’s fried chicken along with almost everything else she cooked. I guess at the time I wasn’t that thrilled with meat loaf or other mundane entrees like pot pies and such but her fried chicken was worth coming in all cleaned up and ready for dinner. Usually there’d be corn-on-the-cob dripping in warm butter and some kind of green stuff—spinach perhaps to balance out the meal. Homemade cornbread with stewed apples were served especially for my father.
The first time I left home was just after high school graduation. An opportunity had presented itself and I’d answered taking a construction job. Knowing money would be tight; my mother had taught me some cooking basics so I could survive on a limited budget. She often joked…but her advice was also often true, “You’ve got to eat your mistakes.”
I learned the magic of Worcester’s Sauce and other off-the-shelf condiments from the ethnic sections of grocery stores. In time I was able to muddle through breakfast eventually learning to make decent omelets. Burgers became a stand-by for many a dinner and I even learned to make pizza from scratch. The one thing I really wanted though was to be able to make fried chicken as good as my mother did. It wasn’t meant to be…
I followed her instructions to the letter—even using the same brand cooking oil. It would be years before I tried to fry chicken again after those first and many failures. Sure, my chicken was edible but it wasn’t anything like mom used to make. After grocery stores started selling fried chicken cheaper and better than fast food joints, I didn’t have the need to make it at home.
Advance the clock forward some forty years. Living full time in an RV makes dining at home an integral part of the budget. Microwave meals have come a long way but good old fashioned home cooking can not only stretch the budget but provide entertainment on the road. RVers are a social bunch of folks and often have pot-luck suppers and other get-togethers. It was time for me to try to make my mother’s fried chicken, again.
After several tries with no success, I finally gave up on trying to make my mom’s chicken…turning to the internet for ideas and advice. Soon I was making pretty damn good fried chicken based on my research. Shoot, it was good enough now that I would be proud to take it to a potluck supper. One batch that stood out as exceptionally good—instead of using an egg and water mixture before coating with flour, I had used a spicy Italian dressing…wow, that turned out great! Last night I tried using bread crumbs mixed with several common spices and that turned out…well, better than anything my mom used to make!
Mom’s fried chicken had an ingredient I’ll never be able to replace…her love of family. In the meantime, I’ll just have to continue experimenting with different spices and techniques and recipes found on the internet.