Saturday, April 28, 2012

Southern Fried Chicken

'Brown Sugar Kitchen' Fried Chicken and Waffles
Perhaps the quintessential American family dinner staple and fast-food destination meal and you might well agree is fried chicken or more correctly named "Southern Fried Chicken". But did you know its original roots are not American? We have the West Africans and the slave trade to recognize for bringing this wonderful aromatic, crispy, mouth-watering treat to our southern shores.

Although frying food commonly termed fritters was a process used in Europe, especially among the Scottish who actually fried their chicken, it is commonly accepted that the American Slaves of the early 18th century had the greatest contribution to our diet today. As pig farming through breeding during this same time period made it possible to offer inexpensive and easy to provide meat to the family with many homes raising and slaughtering their own pigs; the West African slaves had to make do with the food ingredients that were considered inedible or dirty.
Jumbo Rock Lobster Tails-Seattle
This was the history of the ocean Lobster. Lobster could be called original soul food because slaves were given permission by their employer (Master) to lobster trap as it was considered dirty or unhealthy grub.
In visiting our southern states and regions within the United States with a large population of African Americans one can always find a tradition of southern fried chicken restaurants. Many of these well known restaurants such as "Rosco's" in Los Angeles, "Sylvia's" in New York City's Harlem neighborhood or "Gus'" in Memphis have survived decades of ever changing economies and shifts in food palate. Southern Fried Chicken remains king!
I have personally visited Sylvia's in NYC. To experience southern fried chicken with all the traditional southern fixins was a culinary climax. This is where I learned that Southern Fried Chicken should be paired with waffles and maple syrup and hot sauce. Chicken and waffles was born out of Wells Supper Club in Harlem during the Jazz Age of the 1930's. Musicians finishing their gigs during the very early morning hours ate their meal that was too late for dinner but too early for a full morning breakfast, so a compromise was born.
Tanya Holland, Chicago Tribune
My recipe I use at home comes from Tanya Holland of 'Brown Sugar Kitchen' (VIDEO click) in Oakland, California. My absolute favorite, and when asked of our son Blaze what he would like for his first meal for his long awaited homecoming, this is his first choice. He calls it "Soul Chicken".

1 Chicken Fryer cut-up into 8 pieces
1/4 tea. Cayenne Pepper
1/2 Paprika
1 tea. Onion Powder
1 tea. Garlic Powder
1 1/2 tea. fresh or dried Tarragon
1 1/2 tea. fresh or dried Parsley
1 1/2 cups Buttermilk
2 cups Flour
1 Tbl. Kosher Salt
1/2 tea. freshly ground Black Pepper
4-6 cups Canola or Grape Seed Oil

In a large bowl or baking dish, mix together spices and herbs. Add chicken pieces and coat and spice mixture. Cover with buttermilk and marinate for a least 4 hours, or overnight.

Pour oil into a heavy bottomed pot for frying. Add oil to reach about 2-inches. The diameter of the pot will determine the amount of oil to add. Heat oil over medium-high heat.

Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture and coat with flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Drop one piece of chicken into oil to test for heat. Oil should bubble at the surface, but not smoke.

Cool chicken for 15 minute in oil. Check internal temperature, chicken should be at least 165-degrees. The chicken can finish cooking in an oven set at 350-degrees. Place cooked chicken on a draining rack to remove excess oil. Great served with waffles and maple syrup for brunch.

Recipe courtesy Tanya Holland, "Brown Sugar Kitchen" Oakland, California


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