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Best Fried-Chicken?

Bill Hunt Apr 13, 2008 08:33 PM

After many years of trying, we are running out of ideas, trying to duplicate a fried-chicken recipe, that only I have experienced. My wife, the cook/chef in the family, never had the luxury of tasting this dish. I doubt that any CH subscribers are either old enough, or, if they are, ever had the “best fried chicken in the world,” Alamo Fried Chicken in Biloxi, MS. Going back into the ‘50s and very early ‘60s, a tiny restaurant, Alamo Fried Chicken, did a different sort of take on “Southern Fried-Chicken.” The batter was fried to a dark brown, and was thin, but was rather smooth, when prepared. It had spices, but would never have been considered as “hot.” They did “skin-on” and “bone-in” chicken, and probably did all parts, but I remember the breasts most - probably passed the other cuts to family members.

We’ve tried to work out this recipe, but it’s been based on MY memories. If my wife had ever tasted it, I know that she’d be able to dissect the recipe perfectly. Unfortunately, the place sold. Also unfortunately, the buyer only got the name and the physical building, and not the recipe - it folded soon after.

Every edition of “Southern Living,” or “The Food Network,” or “The Travel Channel,” that features fried-chicken, gets our attention. We’ll try to incorporate aspects of all into our search for Alamo Fried Chicken.

While I still have hopes of duplicating THAT recipe, I am a realist, and not getting any younger. That prologue goes into my question:

What is the BEST fried-chicken, that you have ever had, especially if you have a recipe to accompany it?

Hunt

  1. d
    don515 Aug 8, 2011 05:02 PM

    Hi Bill
    i might have one at home you will like. Will post by end of the week

    Don Campbell

    1. c
      Clarkafella Aug 8, 2011 07:36 AM

      Can't remember if this has been mentioned or not, but if you do Facebook, there is a group on there called "Old Biloxi Recipes by Sonya Fountain Miller" that covers all kinds of stuff from old, forgotten restaurants on the Gulf Coast. I would be willing to bet that someone on there might be able to help you. Good luck!

      1. c
        CookingCajun Aug 6, 2011 02:32 PM

        Aloha Bill,

        How's the Alamo Chicken recipe search going? I stopped at a chicken place today just because of you. Just ran across it while looking for a farmer's market in Plant City, Florida. Red golden crust, not bready, not thick, a little greasy but really good. The breading had many crispy bits even when cold. Might just be worth a trip.

         
         
        1 Reply
        1. re: CookingCajun
          Bill Hunt Aug 7, 2011 08:18 PM

          A big aloha, and mahalo,

          We are still looking and cooking, thanks to all of the responses in this thread. On the upside, we have had some great fried chicken, and none has been less than very good, but we are still not getting, as close, as I had hoped.

          Though we are talking about Biloxi,MS and in the 50's and 60's, we sat down with two world-famous Southern Chefs, each of whom have won many awards, and they added their input, but we are still not that close. Now, they are cooking from the "Smoky Mountain" aspect, so much would likely be different.

          Whether we come close, or not, might well be moot, though I will not give up, at least not yet. Still, our experiments have yielded some great fired chicken, and I owe the two chefs at Blackberry Farm some recipes - just in case.

          Thank you,

          Hunt

          PS - the crust in image that you uploaded was similar to some of our experiments, but with Alamo, the crust was dry and covered the chicken completely. It was like the chicken had been coated in a cake batter, and then fried quickly. This differed from most recipes, that are lighter. While it covered everything completely, the coating was not "bready" in any way. Hard to explain.

        2. TorontoTips Jan 22, 2011 11:02 AM

          Billy, Billy, Billy... did I actually read correctly?
          You're trying to capture a 50-year-old southern flavour, and you're using boneless, skinless breasts? Obviously that is a modern-day affectation that will sabotage your quest.
          Simply frying a few batches of bone-in, skin-on chicken (in any oil, any coating, any method) would massiveley change the flavour of anything you fry thereafter, compared to boneless, skinless, safe-but-boring breasts. Plus, don't ignore the chicken itself - the normal frozen, water-cooled, overfed chicken we too often settle for now can't touch the well-raised, freshly-killed, grain-fed, local farmer chicken that was very likely supplied back then.

          Couple of tips:
          - I know of a lot of old-tyme spots that used to use corn-flour, fine-ground cornflake crumbs, or fine-ground cracker-crumbs for fried chicken. And don't be fooled by confusing cornmeal vs. cornflour - very different animals, just as you wouldn't mistake breadcrumbs for wheat flour.

          - As a chef/cook myself, I suspect your solution will come with getting the right combination of marinade + dredge + resting time to cure/dry, because the marinade (egg, buttermilk, evaporated, etc.) actually combines with the dredge and as it rests it first becomes wet like batter, then it forms a hard shell with characteristics of both ingredients.

          Good Luck!

          3 Replies
          1. re: TorontoTips
            d
            di4bmf May 31, 2011 07:33 AM

            Many professional and commercial bread bakers also use some malted barley flour as it leads to a nice, brown, caramelized crust..... will get the color you are after and flavor well a brine and or buttermilk.

            Searing flour or simply wondra flour for the crust you describe in this chicken could be the missing piece.

            1. re: di4bmf
              Bill Hunt Aug 7, 2011 08:05 PM

              Now, that is something that I had never considered, and I should have!

              Being a little bit of a "beer guy," those are terms, that I understand, but have never considered. Off to the various fryers, to see where that takes.

              Greatly appreciated,

              Hunt

            2. re: TorontoTips
              Bill Hunt Aug 7, 2011 08:03 PM

              I have had similar thoughts, and we have deviated to bone-in and skin-on, but still cannot duplicate the Alamo Fried Chicken.

              As stated, we HAVE ended up with some great fried chicken, and maybe my lovely, young wife will do a "fried chicken" cookbook, but we are still far short of the goal.

              Just spent a week at Blackberry Farm, in Walland, TN, and time speaking with Josh Feathers and Jeff Linn, the two executive chefs of Blackberry Farm. Josh has won many Southern awards for his "fried chicken," and he was more than willing to share. Same for Chef Linn. They recipes were great, and their help was invaluable, but we are still quite short in many areas. While their contributions should be included in my wife's cookbook (upon her retirement?), I am no closer, than I was, when I first posted.

              Again, and I must keep adding this - we have done some fabulous fried chicken, but the Alamo version is still eluding us, and in a big way.

              Hey, at least the "trip" is not a bad one. We are "winners," as we have had wonderful fried chicken, fit for the Food Network, but just not Alamo. [Insert Cry Here]

              Maybe I am trying for something, that is totally impossible?

              Still, while at Blackberry Farm, we spent time with John Cokyndall, the master seed historian, and he shared tales of his most recent trip to Romania, where he shared seeds with farmers deep in the countryside. They reciprocated, and shared seeds, that he thought had been lost for over 200 years! One seed, hidden from mankind for 200 years, that can germinate, is all that it takes. We had beans that had disappeared from most records, almost two centuries ago, an they are now thriving. If only we could do the same for the Alamo Fried Chicken!

              Some day, it will show up in our kitchen, and I will share. It might be something totally different, than what the wonderful folk in this thread have added, or maybe some combo?

              Anyway, sorry for being so late in commenting. Though I have been gone a lot, I try to check all of my threads, but missed these comments, and that is not my style.

              Thank you,

              Hunt

            3. g
              Galdway girl Oct 2, 2010 09:36 AM

              After reading all these hints and recipes and trying all the variations, would you share with me your recipe you would use to make fried chicken (albeit,not Alamo's worthy) if you were just trying to surprise a great husband with his favorite comfort food?

              2 Replies
              1. re: Galdway girl
                Bill Hunt Oct 4, 2010 08:03 PM

                We are about to try the Barq's Root beer treatment, and I will report.

                Hunt

                1. re: Galdway girl
                  k
                  karenfinan Jan 22, 2011 02:00 PM

                  I tried the Keller recipe, and it was a good deal of prep work, but...fabulous!

                2. d
                  Diane in Bexley Apr 21, 2010 11:34 AM

                  Bill, read this article today in Slate magazine comparing fried chicken from Thomas Keler to the Pioneer Woman and thought of you:

                  http://www.slate.com/id/2251528/

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Diane in Bexley
                    JoanN Apr 21, 2010 02:55 PM

                    So pleased you posted that link. Wonderful article. Loved the line, " . . . when it comes to comfort food served around a kitchen table, good enough is good enough." But I think the next time I make fried chicken, it'll be Keller's recipe.

                    1. re: Diane in Bexley
                      Bill Hunt Apr 21, 2010 09:15 PM

                      Diane,

                      I greatly appreciate that article and will share that with my ever-stressed wife. She's the chef in the family, and I am the "concept" person. I am sure that she'll pick up a lot of great tips.

                      Thank you,

                      Hunt

                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                        s
                        Soco Sep 26, 2010 10:59 PM

                        Hi - I don't know that this will be the right direction for your specific inquiry regarding the Alamo, but it's one more thing to throw into the mix. I have read that Chervil is a good addition to the dry flour mix; also, the idea of chicken bouillon added to the flour as seasoning might add a zesty poultry taste. One other thought; the old-timers did a lot of things aimed at ease of use rather than ultra-gourmet sensibilities. Perhaps the milk used for the soak was powdered, which was a very cost-effective approach. Like I said, I doubt these ideas will do much, but if they haven't been tried yet in your exhaustive (and to me quite envious!) endeavors to recreate the best fried chicken, I hope they help even a little. I love this idealized quest, and I wish you the best of luck.

                        1. re: Soco
                          alkapal Sep 27, 2010 06:59 AM

                          hmm. that powdered milk concept is intriguing.

                          1. re: Soco
                            Bill Hunt Sep 27, 2010 07:03 PM

                            Thank you for the additions.

                            We are still working on this, and have since experienced a dozen "award winning" recipes, at several restaurants around the South. Most were good, but none THAT good.

                            Now, I cannot help but think on the possibilities for the Alamo recipe. One thing that has started to play on my mind is Barq's Root Beer. It was a Biloxi invention, and very popular. I was looking to various molasses components, and sorghum, but perhaps it was something more simple - root beer.

                            Will report back, when we have a moment to explore.

                            Thanks,

                            Hunt

                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                              c
                              Clarkafella Sep 27, 2010 07:05 PM

                              Did you ever try Gus's in Mason, TN or Memphis?

                              1. re: Clarkafella
                                Bill Hunt Sep 27, 2010 07:12 PM

                                Have not gotten to that part of the country in dozens of years. Will keep them in mind, should we fly into Memphis.

                                Thanks,

                                Hunt

                      2. r
                        RavenWilde Nov 4, 2009 10:26 AM

                        Hi Bill.
                        Here is a recipe I have tried and my husband said it was the best Fried Chicken he had ever eaten. It uses a Coca Cola brine of all things! The thing I have found is that it helps to make the batter and leave in the fridge for an hour at least before you dip the chicken in it, that seems to help it cling better to the chicken! Hope you all like this one..

                        BRINING MIX
                        1 quart Coca Cola
                        1 teaspoon Liiquid Smoke (optional)
                        2 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
                        1 tablespoon Tabasco
                        3 tablespoons ground black pepper
                        3 tablespoons coarse salt

                        BATTER
                        1 egg
                        3/4 cup peanut oil
                        DRY MIX (well combined)
                        2 teaspoons baking powder
                        2 tablespoons coarse salt
                        4 teaspoons ground black pepper
                        1 tablespoon cayenne
                        1 tablespoon onion powder
                        1 tablespoon garlic powder
                        2 1/2 cups flour

                        To brine: Rinse chicken, drain, and set aside. Blend together brining mix until salt dissolves. Place chicken in brine in a large covered bowl and marinate, refrigerated, for 4 hours.
                        To batter: Whisk egg well in a stainless steel bowl and add peanut oil and 2 1/2 cups water. Add in dry mix, whisking slowly so batter doesn't clump.
                        To prepare chicken: Fill a large cast-iron skillet halfway with equal amounts peanut oil and lard. Slowly bring temperature to 375 degrees. (Use a candy thermometer.)

                        While oil is heating, remove chicken from brine and place in a colander in sink. Once chicken has drained, pat dry with paper towels (a critical step) and season with salt and pepper.
                        Dip chicken in batter and place (carefully) in hot oil. Adjust heat, as the chicken will bring down the oil temperature dramatically -- you want it back up to just above 350 degrees. Turn chicken regularly, using tongs, to prevent burning

                        After 8 or 9 minutes, remove a piece, cut it to the bone with a fork, and mash it. If the juices run clear, it's done. Continue cooking if necessary.

                        You could also add the drying step here as described in other posts!
                        Enjoy!

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: RavenWilde
                          Bill Hunt Nov 9, 2009 07:03 PM

                          Wow, while maybe not the Alamo recipe, that sounds great and well worth the time to prepare. As we are finally out of the air for a month, we WILL give this one a go.

                          Thank you so very much for sharing!

                          Greatful - Hunt

                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                            speyerer Feb 23, 2010 07:48 AM

                            Bill, Facebook has a listing of Southern recipes under "Old Biloxi recipes". I didn't see the Alamo chicken recipe, but it may turn up there. Good luck.

                            1. re: speyerer
                              Bill Hunt Feb 23, 2010 05:52 PM

                              Neat. I have not done any Facebook work, but for that recipe, I'd make an exception.

                              Going back a bit, I posted a reflection on wonderful BBQ in Hendersonville, NC. Some many months later, I got a call from the grand-daughter of the owner of that restaurant, with the full details of the sale, and the history. The young lady was happy that I had recalled her grand-father's restaurant, and I was happy for the update on the history of the shop. Great fun!

                              Some day, I only hope... [Grin]

                              Thanks,

                              Hunt

                              1. re: speyerer
                                c
                                CookingCajun Nov 6, 2010 03:07 PM

                                We have been discussing Alamo Fried Chicken at "Old Biloxi Recipes", lots of people remember eathing there Bill. No one seems to have relevant info towards a recipe. I keep the topic alive from time to time though.

                                1. re: CookingCajun
                                  Bill Hunt Nov 14, 2010 07:07 PM

                                  You know, just knowing that others remember their chicken is heartening. I'll see if I can locate that site/board, as there might be some ideas that we can use.

                                  Thank you,

                                  Hunt

                          2. l
                            Lisbet Sep 16, 2009 05:29 AM

                            This is an old newspaper clipping that I have been holding on to. Its content might be of some amusing interest to our subscribers.

                            I remember the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall (a very exclusive, fine hotel) on the boardwalk in Atlantic City.
                            --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                            Chalfonte's Southern Fried Chicken 4 servings
                            Marilyn Marter Column, Phila Inquirer, April 4, 2001

                            1 frying chicken -- (3-pound) quartered
                            salt
                            1 cup flour
                            2 tablespoons paprika
                            black pepper to taste
                            2 cups shortening or corn oil (or a 2-inch depth for frying)
                            1 medium onion -- sliced

                            1. Soak the chicken in salted water for 1 hour. (Add 1 tablespoon salt to each quart of water.) Drain chicken and pat dry.

                            2. Meanwhile, in a bag or bowl, mix flour, paprika, salt to taste and pepper. Add the chicken and shake to coat thoroughly.

                            3. In a large skillet or deep fryer, heat the shortening or oil to 365 to 375 degrees. Place the onion in the hot oil. (Adjust the heat as needed to keep the oil sizzling moderately, but don't let it burn.)

                            4. Add the chicken to hot oil, again adjusting the heat. Fry for 10 minutes. Turn chicken and fry until tender, crisp and browned, about 10 more minutes. (Test for doneness with a fork, or watch for the breast meat to split along the muscle.)

                            Note: As long as the oil is sizzling, moisture is being forced out of the chicken as steam, preventing the meat from absorbing excess oil.

                            The Chalfonte chicken still sizzles in the pan
                            Today's request takes us back to 1990, when a visit to the Chalfonte in Cape May, N.J., found the chef at that grand Victorian resort hotel holding court in her bright, airy kitchen on a sunny August day. Helen Dickerson simultaneously supervised the dinner preparation, answered a reporter's questions, and kept an ear tuned to her favorite afternoon soaps.

                            At 81, Miss Helen (as she liked to be called) still ruled her kitchen domain, though the heavier cooking chores had been delegated to her two assistants, her daughters Dorothy Burton, then 63, and Lucille Thompson, 61.

                            Miss Helen shared memories of her more than 70 years at the Chalfonte, 45 of them in charge of the kitchen, along with recipes for dishes such as the fried chicken that continues as the star item on the hotel's Sunday dinner menu. It is that recipe, clipped from The Inquirer's Food section but later mislaid, that reader Joe Ochman mentioned first in his recent e-mail to us.

                            Miss Helen's talent for Southern-style cooking brought her national attention. Her recipes were collected into a cookbooklet by the hotel. And the outspoken Miss Helen often stole the show during television appearances with talk-show hosts such as Phil Donahue.

                            Miss Helen died just a few months after our article about her was published. Her daughters, now 75 and 72, inherited their mother's kitchen at the Chalfonte.

                            And hundreds of chickens continue to be fried there on summer Sundays in the aged, oversize cast-iron skillets, each holding a dozen or more chicken quarters at a time.

                            Keys to the recipe's success are the soaking, which keeps the chicken moist, plus the onion flavor and the sizzling temperature of the oil. The onions go into the hot fat first and stay there until the chicken is done, Burton said.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Lisbet
                              alkapal Sep 17, 2009 06:06 AM

                              i saw that onion technique when tyler florence went down south in his "the ultimate fried chicken" show. the cooks were two older black ladies (sisters, i believe -- in their 70's), who'd been cooking this way for a gazillion years in their restaurant -- in a humongous deep cast iron skillet. i can still picture them cooking that chicken. ;-). i always wanted to try that technique. there were a lot of sliced onions in that deep frying oil!

                              i wish i knew the places tyler visited in that particular show .... and his other "ultimate" shows. anyone have info?

                              EDIT: tyler must've been at the chalfonte! (oops, so not the south, but "southern style") and these ladies, "dot and lucille," cooked on tyler's show.
                              """The Magnolia Room restaurant features traditional Southern style cooking including Dot and Lucille's famous fried chicken, crab cakes, spoon bread, and corn pudding.""" http://www.chalfonte.com/index.html

                              look at this article about the recent renovation/rescue of the chalfonte: http://www.capemaycountyherald.com/ar...

                              this place sounds idyllic: ""For those who want the Cape May beach experience, the Chalfonte will ask you to sit in a big rocking chair, go to the beach in the afternoon, eat a Southern fried chicken dinner that has become famous worldwide and sip wine on the porch after dark. If you insist on checking your email, the Chalfonte will allow you Wi-Fi although the colonel would scowl at the thought.""""

                              1. re: Lisbet
                                Bill Hunt Sep 22, 2009 06:59 PM

                                Thank you for that contribution.

                                We've tried some of the recs. in this thread, and had some great fried chicken. Unfortunately, we've yet to duplicate the Alamo recipe. As stated, unfortunately, my wife never got to sample their fried chicken, so she's flying blind on this one. Still, I keep doing a critique of each version.

                                Great recipes and great suggestions. None has bombed (yet), but each seems to fall short on some aspect. Maybe it's just my memory of that chicken so many decades ago.

                                Still, I want to thank everyone for the wonderful comments. Most have found their way into the "test," and we have benefitted greatly. One cannot fault that!

                                Thank you, and maybe one day, a relative will come forward with the exact recipe. Then, we can only hope to duplicate it in the AZ desert.

                                Hunt

                              2. w
                                WAZO1662 Jun 10, 2009 05:04 PM

                                Bill I have lived in Biloxi all my life and I to have been working on the "ALAMO" chicken. I have some info. I know that he used wey and ice water with salt added to the liquid as a
                                dip. I know that he used and old dounut fryer to cook in at 350 degrees for 12 minuets. I also know that his flour or whatever was assembled in long beach ms. by a good friend. He had some brothes or sisters in fl. that had the receipe, and a retail outlet, but closed when the war started. I am trying to find those people as we speak. Please respond and let me know what info you have.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: WAZO1662
                                  Bill Hunt Jun 10, 2009 05:25 PM

                                  Thank you so much for the post.

                                  The ice water has been mentioned earlier on, there has been debate on the exact cooking method. You have filled in that blank. As for the whey, I would never have thought of that.

                                  If you have any success, or any additional info to add, please do so. We're still working on the recipe, and HAVE turned out some great fried chicken, but have still not come close - by the standards of my memory. I only wish that my wife had gotten to taste the Alamo Fried Chicken, as I am sure that she could also fill in other blanks.

                                  Appreciated,

                                  Hunt

                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                    c
                                    CookingCajun Sep 12, 2009 05:49 PM

                                    Aloha Bill,

                                    I've read your discussion with interest as I am researching recipes from old(er) Biloxi restaurants. My queries to the Sun Herald have sparked a fairly consistent dialogue in the past few months about either old Biloxi local's recipes or old Gulf Coast restaurant recipes. Perhaps you or your readers may appeal to S.H. readers for assistance.

                                    I wanted to query you based on some of the ideas you received from other CH members.

                                    CORNSTARTCH- HAVE you specifically tried the cornstarch component in your batter? I grew up in the South, but lived in Hawaii (Big Island) for about 5 years. I've had the Karaage or Asian style fried chicken and it does give a smooth batter. http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/... (recipe here sounds great, not far from what I ate in Hilo). It would be interesting if these folks had come across cornstarch in the 1950s as a frying ingredient back then (of course, then there is rice flour....). While this may not have been in the original secret Long Beach dredging mix, it might be a helpful adjunct to the....

                                    CORNFLOUR- What have been the results of this as a dredging ingredient if you've tried it? Perhaps a mixture of this with flour and cornstarch plus the spices of.....

                                    PAPRIKA, BLACK PEPPER, ETC. AND/OR LAWRYS SEASONING SALT- you went to some lengths to describe the chicken (alas although I've been to Biloxi alot, my family's from there, I was born 2 years after Alamo sold). After all of your adventerous experiments, can you provide any additional insight to the flavors of trhe spices? Have the abovementioned spices/mixes been of any help? Have other spices put you in the right direction?

                                    BUTTERMILK, WHEY, SALT, ICE WATER- my husband and I discussed the whey component as it is a byproduct of a Hungarian desert his mother used to make. He didn't seem to think the presence or absence of whey would make a major different. But has ice water and or buttermilk made a positive effect on your efforts?

                                    RESTING THE BATTERED CHICKEN, FRYING CHICKEN TWICE- have either of these methods improved browning?

                                    PEANUT OIL - have you found an oil that has performed better than others in crisping the chicken?

                                    As a food enthusiast, and maintaining a 70 lb weight loss, I am intrigued by your search and have planned in incorporate some of the suggestions in my Low Carb regimen. You might be surprised at what I've been able to finagle on a low carb way of eating ;-

                                    )

                                    Awaiting your updates with bated breath......

                                    CC

                                    ps Ladner's Fisherman's Wharf, I don't know about that name, but I understand there's been a Fishermans Wharf in Biloxi, famous for some pie that no one can get the recipe for.

                                    1. re: CookingCajun
                                      Bill Hunt Sep 13, 2009 09:04 PM

                                      Aloha and mahalo,

                                      You bring up some interesting concepts. Many are alien to me, but will pass them on to my wife, the cook'chef in the family, and we will incorporate them into our next attempt.

                                      Again, mahalo for the thoughts,

                                      Hunt

                                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                                        speyerer Sep 14, 2009 06:47 AM

                                        Here is a post that includes New Orleans' Buster Holmes’ and Austin Leslie’s recipes among others.

                                        http://mrlake.fncinc.net/viewtopic.ph...

                                        1. re: speyerer
                                          Bill Hunt Sep 14, 2009 07:57 PM

                                          Boy, that second recipe sounds interesting. The condensed milk could be a clue.

                                          Thank you,

                                          Hunt

                                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                                            speyerer Sep 15, 2009 04:36 PM

                                            Bill, I'd use Evaporated Milk.

                                          2. re: speyerer
                                            alkapal Sep 15, 2009 05:31 AM

                                            boy howdy, speyerer, you sure got the fried chicken recipes! ;-).

                                            that looks like a fun recipe forum for southern and new orleans food lovers. thanks for the link.

                                          3. re: Bill Hunt
                                            c
                                            CookingCajun Feb 19, 2010 06:44 AM

                                            Aloha Bill,

                                            any new developments with your Alamo Chicken recipe? Any word on the folks who may have the restaurant seasoning/batter recipe?

                                            1. re: CookingCajun
                                              Bill Hunt Feb 22, 2010 07:08 PM

                                              None so far. We have attempted to incorporate as many suggestions, as we can. Fried chicken has been great, but nothing is really working towards the "end game." Still, some great ideas, and most have yielded excellent fried chicken, so life is good. We'll probably never recreate the recipe, but hey, we're having fun trying.

                                              For my grandmother's red gravy over rice, we worked for about three years. I had actually been with her, on one day, when she acquired many of the ingredients, so had partial recipe. Poor wife never met her, nor had she ever had that dish. Still, with bits here, and pieces there, we did manage to recreate it pretty danged well. I just wish that my wife had experienced Alamo Fried Chicken, as she'd be able to really help. Still, she's a sport about the whole search, and we do get great fried chicken from dozens of ideas.

                                              Thanks for asking,

                                              Hunt

                                    2. Chew on That Sep 5, 2008 03:13 PM

                                      Here's a good recipe. It's simple and all you need.

                                      Ingredients

                                      3 lb. chicken strips or a cut up fryer
                                      buttermilk (enough to coat pieces of chicken)
                                      salt and pepper (enough to season chicken)
                                      flour (enough to coat pieces of chicken)
                                      vegetable oil (enough to fry chicken)

                                      Directions

                                      Let oil heat up in skillet on med. heat. Salt and pepper chicken, dip in milk, then flour and then the milk again until well coated.
                                      Fry until done about 20 minutes per side if you are using the strips or deep fry. It may take longer if you are using bone in chicken.

                                      1. d
                                        dexmat Sep 4, 2008 10:29 PM

                                        This has been a fascinating thread which has inspired me to try to replicate my mother’s recipe for fried chicken, which I haven’t tasted in decades. I remember being surprised years ago when I first came across a recipe for fried chicken which called for marinating the bird in buttermilk. I was sure my mother never did that and her sister has confirmed that. All they used for fried chicken was flour, salt, pepper, Crisco and a cast iron skillet. I think a huge difference was the quality of the bird and am surprised no one has mentioned that in this thread until relatively recently. Chicken today is virtually tasteless compared to the birds available back then; it’s slaughtered very young, for one thing. I always assumed the buttermilk was for flavoring, not tenderizing, which such young meat does not need.

                                        Besides Gerber which was just brought up, Bell and Evans of Pennsylvania also only sells fresh, never frozen birds only within trucking distance of their facilities and there may be other such operations around the country. Mark Bittman in the NYT says he only uses kosher birds and only the dark meat pieces.

                                        One thing I came across online was that New Orleans famous Austin Lesley preferred to soak the bird in evaporated milk which slightly sweetens the meat without adding the slight tartness.

                                        Regarding the cooking fats: lard - real or partially-hydrogenated, shelf stable lard which has been bleached and deodorized (requires no refrigeration - real lard does).

                                        Shortening - my mother used Crisco and Wesson Oil exclusively. Snowdrift was another popular brand. Crisco was just hydrogenated Wesson Oil and all 3 were 100% cotton seed oil back then but are not now. I was surprised to look at a label on a can of Crisco at the store and see it still includes some cotton seed oil. I thought CSO had been totally eliminated due to health concerns. I don’t think I’ve seen cotton seed oil in grocery stores in a couple of decades but had used it in the past; LouAna was the brand. I believe it would impart a slightly nuttier taste. Wesson oil is soy bean oil now.

                                        My aunt used Spry, a brand I had completely forgotten about. It was made by Lever instead of P&G and was ‘triple creamed.’ My aunt says there was a butter flavored Spry but even the regular Spry was yellow colored. I haven’t been able to find out what Spry was made from or what accounted for the yellow color.

                                        I've also come across recommendations to add some butter to the shortening (Bittman again, I think) and fry some country ham in the fat before adding the chicken (Edna Lewis).

                                        I have 3 old cookbooks, 2 of them community cookbooks from Central Texas, one from 1938, 1944 and 1947. The recipes for fried chicken were very simple and the only variations from what my mother used was one advised making a thin slurry of the flour, S&P mixture with water and rolling the pieces in it and another advised adding a little baking soda to the dry ingredients.

                                        Regarding the flour, have you sifted it? My mother never used flour for anything without sifting it. Besides corn flour and corn starch I’ve also wondered about cake flour because of your description of the thin coating but haven’t tried it.

                                        Finally (Sorry for the extra long post. I’ve been following this while lurking and just recently joined up), 2 weeks ago I emailed the ask a librarian feature of the Harrison Co. Public Library in Biloxi to see if they had any material on the restaurant or the recipe. They replied right away that most of their local history and genealogical files were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and what was left was in the process of being reorganized and moved and was inaccessible. I’m still waiting for a second reply but I’m sure Gustav has also affected operations. I also intend to email the food editor of the local paper. If the chicken was that good, surely the locals talked about it too and maybe someone figured it out or revealed the secret, maybe decades ago.

                                        1. h
                                          homebaker Sep 4, 2008 08:51 PM

                                          The topic caught my attention because I was just reading about it on my local board.

                                          Here's a discussion thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/374533

                                          But here's the article that you might find an interesting read: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/07/din...

                                          It doesn't give an exact recipe for the flour/cornstarch but is very helpful in describing the two-step process at (relatively) low frying temperature.

                                          I hope this helps; the result -seems- to match what you're looking for.

                                          1. Monch Sep 4, 2008 10:42 AM

                                            Bill,

                                            I am NOT an expert but have an idea.

                                            I'll bet that someone with the Southern Foodways Alliance would have insight into the original recipe/method.

                                            They're at: http://www.southernfoodways.com/

                                            Hope this is a help in getting some "real live" feedback on the original recipe. This feels like their schtick.

                                            Good luck.

                                            1. k
                                              karenfinan Aug 13, 2008 10:11 PM

                                              oh, by the way I more carefully read some of the posts, and yes, yes yes, drying is the secret, let it rest before frying it, for up to 12 hours in the fridge.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: karenfinan
                                                s
                                                sarahjo Sep 4, 2008 10:34 AM

                                                I am with Moh on the cornstarch in your flour mix. I tried fried chicken last week with cornstarch in my flour mixture for the first time ever, and it was awesome! I could really tell a difference. And I also did it in a cast iron skillet, which I have many times; but it was different with the cornstarch. It had that crunchy 'smoothness' that you mentioned. I also let it sit for about 15 minutes after dredging it like others mentioned so it could 'dry'.

                                              2. k
                                                karenfinan Aug 13, 2008 10:07 PM

                                                first of all, here is the thing about fried chicken, you have to practice cooking it for many years to have it really come out perfect. The recipe is somewhat secondary. Having said that, I would say, get Maya Angelou's memoir/cookbook, sorry don't remember the name of it, that has in my opinion the classic preparation of the fried chicken you are describing. Then,since you seem to be a person of some means, I'd get to Beach Road Chicken Dinner on Atlantic Blvd in Jacksonville Fla, they prepare the best fried chicken hands down anywhere. Maybe you can sweet talk someone there into sharing their recipe:-)

                                                1. Bill Hunt Aug 3, 2008 09:59 PM

                                                  In another thread, on another cuisine from Biloxi, MS, someone brought up a restaurant that was only about 4 doors down from Alamo Fried Chicken, and they were commenting from a contemporary time. I invited them to this thread, in hopes that they, or their parents, might be able to shed some light. If they knew Hugo's Pizza, then they had to know Alamo. Unfortunately, they have not shown up. Maybe fried chicken was not their thing, and pizza was.

                                                  Here's hoping,

                                                  Hunt

                                                  PS I cannot say thank you enough, to all, who have replied. There are some great ideas, and I am appreciative for each, and every one. Even if we fail to reconstruct this quest, we have benefitted from some great fried chicken, and still have many variations to try, when we're back from our travels. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am open to any additional ideas.

                                                  7 Replies
                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                    c
                                                    Clarkafella Aug 3, 2008 10:44 PM

                                                    Earlier in this thread,Chazzerking mentioned Gus' Fried Chicken in Tennessee- have you ever tried that place? It was the first thing that I thought of too, based on your description. Gus' chicken has a very dark crust, and it is smooth- none of the little crumbly things, it is actually more like a coating.

                                                    Mildly spicy but not enough to where anyone would ever complain...

                                                    And it is really really good- probably the second or third best that I have ever tasted, with the others being chicken cooked by my wife and her relatives (all from Gulfport).

                                                    Even if it isn't the Holy Grail that you are looking for, it is still worth the trip if you are ever near Memphis...

                                                    1. re: Clarkafella
                                                      Bill Hunt Aug 4, 2008 07:53 PM

                                                      Clarkafella,

                                                      I have not. We have a trip to Nashville, and hope to get a few days of wife's free time, to go over to Blackberry Farm in Knoxville. We'll drive, but have been known ot go far out of our way for great food. I do not recall the 'brug for Gus' Fried Chicken now, but will search back up the thread. If we CAN get by, we'll definitely try it.

                                                      I have no idea where the folk from Alamo Fried Chicken headed, when they sold, but I could see TN.

                                                      Thanks,

                                                      Hunt

                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                        p
                                                        paul balbin Aug 7, 2008 12:34 PM

                                                        Bill, thanx for starting this blog. yayadave gave a link to in mamas kitchen
                                                        on the subject of pressure frying. I tried it out last night and it worked
                                                        great..... You should have heard my wife carry on about the chicken..
                                                        This may be the answer to your quest.
                                                        Paul

                                                        1. re: paul balbin
                                                          Bill Hunt Aug 13, 2008 09:03 PM

                                                          Thanks for the feedback. We have yet to try pressure frying, but should when we get back home. It's time to put some of these great suggestions to the test. They all sound wonderful, even if we never find that "holy grail."

                                                          Hunt

                                                          1. re: paul balbin
                                                            yayadave Sep 3, 2008 04:22 PM

                                                            I just noticed your post. As you can see from my post of inmamaskitchen, I was uncertain about this proceedure at home. Can you describe what you did that worked so well?

                                                            1. re: yayadave
                                                              p
                                                              paul balbin Sep 4, 2008 06:14 PM

                                                              Howdy yayadave, Thank you so much for the lead. It was exactly what I needed to get me going.
                                                              I pretty much followed the directions he gave the first time I did it and they worked perfectly.
                                                              I figured out how much oil to put in the pressure cooker by his
                                                              directions. Using a candy thermometer I heat the oil to 350 and
                                                              put in the breaded chicken. At this altitude I let the chicken
                                                              fry for 7 minutes with out putting on the lid. This gives me time
                                                              to get the flame set to hold 350 before putting on the lid and also
                                                              gives time for the frying to settle down some. Turn the pieces
                                                              after 3 minutes. At the 7 minute mark put on the lid. It takes
                                                              a while for the pressure to build but that is ok. After 7 more
                                                              minutes move the cooker to the sink and run cold water over
                                                              the top and spray the sides until the pressure dies down. At
                                                              your altitude you may only need 5 minute stages.
                                                              Remove the chicken and put it in a warm oven while you
                                                              do the next batch. With the small burner on my home stove
                                                              I can only do 3 or 4 pieces at a time. I have purchased a
                                                              pressure canner which I think will allow me to cook a lot more
                                                              on the big burners in my restaurant.
                                                              As to the breading, I am using Thomas Keller's receipt except
                                                              I add about 25% corn starch like the lady below does. I let the
                                                              pieces dry for about 30 minutes between coats. Two coatings.
                                                              Good luck and if you have any further questions let me know.
                                                              By the way, don't pay any attention to all those folks who say
                                                              you are going to blow your self up, who have never done it. Listen to the guy inmamaskitchen and thanks again for the lead

                                                              1. re: paul balbin
                                                                yayadave Sep 4, 2008 06:58 PM

                                                                Thanks for all that.

                                                                Some kin of mine went through Ohio this summer and commented on the best chicken ever. It may have been that Gerber chicken mentioned on this thread. When I asked if it was broasted, I got a "Da-Wha?" response.

                                                                It doesn't seem that there's any magic here. It's just things that were done and are not done any more. The Gerber people say it's the feed they use. And broasting is available. Broaster and KFC have some protected breadings they use, but broasting is around.

                                                                It seems to go back to those French guys who make such good frites by cooking them twice and with care. It's just taking the trouble to do it well and the care required. "Scuse my soap box.

                                                                Thanks again.

                                                    2. chef chicklet Jul 30, 2008 08:11 PM

                                                      Today off and on I lurked and read this thread.
                                                      I really enjoyed reading about the op's quest to find the lost beloved fried chicken recipe. Anywaym reading everyones responses totally inspired me to make delicious fried chicken on a hottish July afternoon.

                                                      I double soaked the chicken in milk and 1 egg, more milk than egg... first dipped in seasoned flour, then in the egg, and then back into the seasoned flour.

                                                      Flour, red pepper, paprkia, salt, black pepper, garlic powder. Lots of all.
                                                      Made a cream gravy with mashed potatoes and corn... The chicken came out perfect, a darkish reddish brown with a crunchy tasty crust.
                                                      Needless to say the dh was sooooo happy!!!
                                                      Thanks again for the inspiration!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: chef chicklet
                                                        Bill Hunt Aug 3, 2008 09:54 PM

                                                        Chef Chicklet,

                                                        Even if we never find the exact recipe, I'm glad that this thread served as an inspiration. Heck, we've been having some great fried chicken, but have just been missing this "holy grail." If anyone benefits from the discussion (and I know that we certainly have), then I am very pleased.

                                                        Thank you for sharing,

                                                        Hunt

                                                      2. p
                                                        Potomac Bob Jul 30, 2008 07:44 PM

                                                        Biloxi, MS, 1950s. Back then, the commercialization of chickens was just beginning. It took longer to grow them (no growth hormones) and they used a different breed of chickens (often a breed called dominique - "dominickers" in the South) that grew slower and had more flavor. A favorite coating along the Gulf Coast at the time was made, not with wheat flour, but corn flour (it's a grind somewhere between cornstarch and cornmeal.) I don't know that either of those are what you're looking for. And you won't be able to get dominique chickens - they're almost extinct. but if you're frying up hundreds of thousands of chickens looking for a recipe, I'm sure you can still find cornflour with which to experiment (unless you're in Britain, where cornflour means what we call cornstarch.)

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Potomac Bob
                                                          Bill Hunt Aug 3, 2008 09:52 PM

                                                          Thank you for that input. So far, we've tried wheat flour, of many types and grinds, but no corn flour. Maybe we were both thinking of "fish fry," and did not go there. But, with a really fine grind, this will be worth a try.

                                                          Thanks for the chicken info. Had not thought about the possibility of that aspect. We've been working with "fresh, free-range" birds, for the most part, as they are available in AZ, though not all that common, compared to the normal Tyson stuff.

                                                          Thanks,

                                                          Hunt

                                                        2. c
                                                          chazzerking Jul 28, 2008 10:51 AM

                                                          Bill: I thought of you on saturday as I was gorging on some wonderful fried chicken at the Glennonville(MO) Knights of Columbus picnic. It was crisp but not heavily breaded, hot and moist. served with real mashed potatoes with cream gravy green beans and the ripest tomatoes I've had in years. Even though the firsts werent on my diet, I had to go back for sconds. also had a wonderful peach custard pie for dessert. Had to take a nap when we got home.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: chazzerking
                                                            Bill Hunt Aug 3, 2008 09:48 PM

                                                            I think that with great fried chicken, one must just put their diet on hold - for a day, or two. I feel the same with foie gras, but that is for a different thread.

                                                            Hunt

                                                          2. jinet12 Jul 19, 2008 06:43 PM

                                                            Have done it many ways...No doubt IMO, that a heavy seasoned cast iron skillet does the best job....Soaking in seasoned, and in my house, hot sauced buttermilk for 24 hours also adds to a delicious version...I also use self rising flour and then dry the pieces for about 20 minutes on a cake rack...I would love to use lard, but cannot bring myself to buy it, so I use a combination of vegetable and canola, but know that peanut oil is best...

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: jinet12
                                                              EricShawnSmith Jul 27, 2008 07:43 PM

                                                              For awesome fried chicken I brine it in salt water for 24 hours. I then add a sliced onion to the oil until it reaches a dark golden brown color. Then simply remove the onions add the chicken and you are good to go.

                                                            2. David A. Goldfarb Jul 19, 2008 12:28 PM

                                                              My grandmother, who like one of the previous posters was Jewish, kosher, and from Ohio, made really good fried chicken. Her secret was to dredge in flour, eggs, and cornflake crumbs. I don't remember what spices she used, but probably salt, pepper, and paprika. I remember she bought Kellogg's Cornflake Crumbs that came in a white box with black print and the Kellogg's logo, which I guess means that they were a byproduct of Kellogg's cornflakes, so lacking the official product, one could just as well crush up some cornflakes to make cornflake crumbs.

                                                              1. Karl S Jul 18, 2008 04:45 PM

                                                                General points:

                                                                I use an large rectangular electric skillet. Easy to set and maintain a high frying temp. Easy to cover. Easy to clean.

                                                                Fry covered the first side; fry uncovered the second side.

                                                                1. p
                                                                  pengcast Jul 18, 2008 04:42 PM

                                                                  I recently had a variation on the buttermilk and flour dredge regime. The variation was to do a second milk dip and then roll in panko cumbs. It did leave more coating than flour alone, but seriously crunchy. I think this would also work great for homemade chicken strips made for dippng because the coating was nice and bumpy which would pick up more dipping sauce.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: pengcast
                                                                    ideabaker Jul 31, 2008 12:44 AM

                                                                    Love what Panko does for crunch! When do you do the "second milk dip"? After you dredge in flour and before the Panko? No eggs at any point for dipping? This thread is making me SO hungry :-).

                                                                    1. re: ideabaker
                                                                      g
                                                                      gem_of_cali Sep 27, 2010 02:55 AM

                                                                      Hi Ideabaker,

                                                                      I love fried any meat,fish or poultry with panko. it is wonderful. Do you dislike the eggs for dipping the meat in? I only ask because you suggested milk instead of egg. Does the milk make it have more crunch? I have never used milk but I will try it now and see how I like it.

                                                                      Take Care

                                                                      Gem_of_Cali

                                                                      1. re: gem_of_cali
                                                                        speyerer Sep 27, 2010 06:21 AM

                                                                        Gem, here is a link to many different fried chicken recipes you might enjoy.
                                                                        http://mrlake.fncinc.net/viewtopic.ph...

                                                                        1. re: speyerer
                                                                          g
                                                                          gem_of_cali Oct 3, 2010 04:15 AM

                                                                          Hi Speyerer,

                                                                          Thanks for the link. I will give it a try.

                                                                          Take Care

                                                                  2. m
                                                                    moh Jul 18, 2008 11:01 AM

                                                                    This post is not an attempt to answer the question about Alamo chicken, my apologies Bill. But we just tried our hand at fried chicken and dang, it was yummy!

                                                                    We started by rendering our own lard from fresh lard. We did not get leaf-lard, but got abdominal lard from our butcher. Following the instructions of Miss Edna Lewis in "The Taste of Country Cooking", we cut the lard into small chunks and slowly rendered this down in a large pot on the stove, stirring and stirring. It took a long time, 2-3 hours! We strained the liquid, and let it cool into a wonderful white solid fat.

                                                                    We then followed the instructions from "The Gift of Southern Cooking" by Miss Lewis and Scott Peacock. We brined our chicken pieces for 12 hours in a solution with proportions of 1/4 cup kosher salt to 1 quart cold water. We drained the brined chicken, then soaked the chicken in buttermilk (2 quarts for 2 three pound chickens) for another 8-12hours. We drained the chicken onto a wire rack.

                                                                    We then heated 1 1/2 pounds of lard, 1/2 cup of butter, and half a cup of a combination of chunks of presunto (Portuguese version of proscuitto) and smoked ham. We used the presunto and the smoked ham combination because we have no easy access to Virginia country ham, a ham that is made by air-curing the leg and then smoking it. This mixture was cooked over low heat in an cast-iron pan for 45 minutes, skimming off the foam from the butter and allowing the hams to brown. The ham was removed from the oil, and the temperature of the oil was increased to 335 degrees Farenheit by increasing the heat to medium-high.

                                                                    2 cups of flour, 4 tablespoons of cornstarch, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper were combined, and the chicken pieces were dredged in this mixture, then patted to remove all excess flour. The pieces were cooked in small batches inthe fat, taking care to keep the oil hot. 8-10 minutes per side until golden brown. The pieces were drained on a wire rack.

                                                                    We made a gravy as per "The Taste of Country Cooking". We used a couple of chicken backs, necks, the chicken innards that came with the chickens (Gizzards, heart, livers) the bones from a rotisserie chicken, 1 celery stalk chopped, one chopped onion, 3 cups of cold water. We cooked this over medium heat for 1 hour, and strained the stock. Then we put 4 tablespoons of fat from the chicken frying fan in a small sauce pan, added 3 tablespoons of flour, and browned this mixture. Then we added 2 1/2 cups of stck, stirred well and cooked this for 15 minutes at a simmer. Seasoned with salt and pepper. This made a lovely white gravy.

                                                                    We served the chicken with gravy, corn pudding (again from Miss Lewis) and some biscuits that a friend brought. It was all very yummy! We served this along side some lovely vintage Champagnes (when I get a chance, I shall report this on the wine board). What a great evening! We were very pleased with this recipe, the chicken had a wonderful crispy skin, the meat was perfectly seasoned and moist, with a lovely delicate taste of chicken that did not succumb to the flavour of the skin and fat. The chicken was not greasy at all ( I think keeping the fat hot is key - small batches!). Well worth all the effort.

                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                    1. re: moh
                                                                      m
                                                                      maisonbistro Jul 18, 2008 11:34 AM

                                                                      Sorry I couldn't make it - my invitation didn't arrive on time!!!!

                                                                      :(

                                                                      1. re: maisonbistro
                                                                        m
                                                                        moh Jul 18, 2008 12:02 PM

                                                                        My dear Maisonbistro, this is a recipe that can and must be repeated in the future. You just let me know when your officially off your diet!!! I can't imagine this fried chicken being ok... Even if it isn't that greasy...

                                                                      2. re: moh
                                                                        MMRuth Jul 18, 2008 12:08 PM

                                                                        That sounds amazing. I'm not sure I'm up for rendering that much lard in my little kitchen that opens up to the living room - I gather it gives off a bit of an odor? When I buy lard at the farmer's market, it's in little containers - did you weigh the lard to come up w/ the 1.5 pound number? I guess I could buy a lot of little tubs. Could I get away with less?

                                                                        1. re: MMRuth
                                                                          m
                                                                          moh Jul 18, 2008 09:14 PM

                                                                          MMRuth, the rendering wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, it didn't stink up the house. But we did have the windows open pretty wide.

                                                                          We used 1.5 pounds of lard because we were doing 2 chickens, enough for 8-10 people. You could use a lot less. The original recipe calls for 1 pound for 1 three pound chicken. You really just need enough fat to cover half of the piece of chicken, as you turn the pieces over to cook each side. So yes, you might even get away with a little less. I did weigh the lard.

                                                                          This recipe really helped assuage my fried-chicken craving!

                                                                          1. re: moh
                                                                            c
                                                                            corabeth Sep 6, 2008 08:54 AM

                                                                            I buy my lard at a Mesican groceries in my area because it is the closest to home rendered lard.

                                                                            Also, below is a link to a great explanation why lard is really better for us than "healthy’ partially hydrogenated vegetable fats".

                                                                            http://www.proteinpower.com/drmd_blog/

                                                                        2. re: moh
                                                                          Bill Hunt Aug 3, 2008 09:46 PM

                                                                          That sounds like work, but a work of love! I hope that all of the effort paid dividends in the end.

                                                                          I'll excerpt some of your points and pass them on to my wife, for inclusion in her experiments.

                                                                          Thank you for taking the time to put this all together. I think we have some new elements to throw into the recipe.

                                                                          Appreciated,

                                                                          Hunt

                                                                        3. kpaumer May 8, 2008 11:48 AM

                                                                          Question: Just what does buttermilk do for fried chicken? A cut-up chicken, S&P, flour and hot oil in a cast-iron skillet, was all my grandmother & mother used for their fried and honey-fried chicken. It was golden brown, crispy and delicious. Now every receipe I see calls for buttermilk! I say save the buttermilk for the cornbread!!

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: kpaumer
                                                                            mrbozo May 8, 2008 01:17 PM

                                                                            Buttermilk flavours and tenderizes.

                                                                            1. re: kpaumer
                                                                              w
                                                                              walker May 8, 2008 01:28 PM

                                                                              In the "olden" days, buttermilk was the liquid left after making the butter, right? That's completely different from the buttermilk we buy in the grocery store. But, a lot of people swear by buttermilk soaked, then fried, chicken. They say it tenderizes the chicken.

                                                                              1. re: walker
                                                                                kpaumer May 8, 2008 02:23 PM

                                                                                Thanks for the Info, I guess I'm lucky, in that I've never tasted a "tough" chicken, but then I never order fried chicken out. A little cook's pride here, but mine is better and CLEANER that what I can get out.

                                                                                1. re: kpaumer
                                                                                  Bill Hunt May 8, 2008 08:03 PM

                                                                                  Buttermilk is high in lactic acid, which can work as a tenderizer. I do not know how it came into so many Southern fried chicken recipes, but does appear a lot.

                                                                                  For this recipe, it's only a guess, and has been used in several variations. Not sure if it's correct, but it certainly makes the chicken taste good...

                                                                                  Hunt

                                                                              2. re: kpaumer
                                                                                f
                                                                                foufou Jul 27, 2008 05:21 PM

                                                                                I'm with you; my mother, from the Deep South, made the best fried chicken with out buttermilk! I have tried several buttermilk recipes and I don't get it.

                                                                              3. s
                                                                                smalt May 7, 2008 07:08 AM

                                                                                Hunt: let me live vicariously - how goes the fried chicken tasting?

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: smalt
                                                                                  alkapal May 7, 2008 07:22 AM

                                                                                  i think he might still be away...

                                                                                  1. re: smalt
                                                                                    Bill Hunt May 7, 2008 08:54 PM

                                                                                    Just got back from London, so there was no fried chicken. We're in town for a week and will possibly try another variation, before we fly off again. I really like the idea of the buttermilk pancake batter and will introduce that to my wife. I'll report back, when we have a few moment.

                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                  2. yayadave Apr 16, 2008 05:27 PM

                                                                                    Here's a discussion of how to cook in oil with a pressure cooker.
                                                                                    http://www.inmamaskitchen.com/FOOD_IS...
                                                                                    I'm not saying it works. Just that here it is. From this, I think you could marinate the chicken pieces in buttermilk, dredge them in flour, let them rest, then brown them to get the "batter"cooked on before clamping down the lid to pressure cook. Jus' sayin'.

                                                                                    1. d
                                                                                      dhedges53 Apr 16, 2008 03:43 PM

                                                                                      $100 bucks says that was "Broasted" chicken at Alamo Fried Chicken. There was a contraption (the front looks like a bank vault door) that a lot of restaurants used back in the '50s and '60s called a "Broaster". Half pressure cooker and half deep fryer. The chicken you described sounds like the chicken we'd drive miles to get at a restaurant with a Broaster. I think there are some internet sites that might help you duplicate that chicken with a pressure cooker. Or, you might find an old one on Ebay. They still make them, but are for restaurants only.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: dhedges53
                                                                                        alkapal Apr 16, 2008 04:31 PM

                                                                                        http://www.ochef.com/374.htm

                                                                                      2. c
                                                                                        chazzerking Apr 16, 2008 03:36 PM

                                                                                        Bill; the best I've ever had that wasn't in someone's home, is Gus's in Mason TN. they now have 2 other restaurants; one in Memphis and 1 in Dyersburg TN. They make it very simply. the marinate the chicken overnight in buttermilk and Louisiana Hot Sauce, drain, then a light dredge in flour that's been salted and peppered. they cook in ancient cast iron oval Dutch ovens, and the chicken is how you describe it; dark crispy(almost crunchy, but too thin to really be described as crunchy). They only have fried chicken adn grilled balogna. the sides are french fries, potato salad, slaw and fried rice(not like chinese, but rather what I can only describe as "Southern" fried rice. they also serve Bud and Miller Lite in 8 oz 12's, 22's,qt.s, and 40's and serve some of the best home made pies you've tasted. The juke box is filled with blues and R & B and if they get backlogged with orders, they just lock the frontt door and put up a sign saying when they'll reopen. The original Gus's in Mason is the best( it's a small shotgun house that you can roll a marble from the back door to the front and from which you'll wear home the smell of frying chicken) but still excellent in the 2 outlets. According to several magazines, it's the best in the world, and I can't really argue.

                                                                                        1. s
                                                                                          sighmesigh Apr 16, 2008 01:11 PM

                                                                                          I also grew up eating Alamo fried chicken, but in the 60's rather than the '50's. I think it must have been deep fried and not pan fried. I also suspect a buttermilk connection. It seems to me the crust was denser than "out of the buttermilk into the flour" type and think that maybe the "egg dip, then flour, then dry" technique (preceded by a buttermilk soak) sounds promising.
                                                                                          Now, can you replicate the "white sauce" from Ladner's Fisherman's Wharf? I know it is mostly mayo, creole mustard and a bit of Lea & Perrins and maybe some garlic, but I still feel I'm missing something. (Perhaps its is some of their fried shrimp to dip in it) Alas, poor Biloxi, almost all I knew of it is gone now.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: sighmesigh
                                                                                            Bill Hunt Apr 16, 2008 05:46 PM

                                                                                            I do not remember Ladner's Fisherman's Wharf. For seafood, we usually went to Bennie's on Pass Rd., just E. of Handsboro. Do not think it had a Biloxi address then, but "then," there were Mississippi City, Handsboro, and maybe two other entities, between Gulfport & Biloxi. Next seafood stop was the old Bericev's [SP?], when they were on the point where the old Ocean Springs Bridge took off. They moved to the beach (Hwy 90), but sold the land to one of the early casinos, when the law passed to allow water-borne gambling. There last spot was right where a gambling/cruise ship used to dock.

                                                                                            Back to Alamo - IIRC, they were sold in ~63. That was when the new owner found out that he/she had gotten the property, the name, but no recipe.

                                                                                            The "broasting" idea sound intriguing, but also a bit “dangerous” to try at home. Reminds me of my first excursion into “deep-fried turkey.” Luckily, I have some high-speed motor-drive stills of me and the “volcano,” as came to be called.

                                                                                            I have gotten some great ideas, and will attempt to incorporate them into the quest. The drying step, possibly peanut oil, the list goes on. Glad we both like fried chicken!

                                                                                            There are also some good recs. for fried chicken restaurants, that I have not heard of and will try, when we can get to some of those cities.

                                                                                            Gonna' be gone for a bit, but will be back to this thread to gather more ideas, when we return.

                                                                                            Want to say thanks to all for the interesting ideas and thoughts. Great input!!!

                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                            Sorry that I'm no use on the Ladner's sauce - never had it.

                                                                                          2. a
                                                                                            Analisas mom Apr 16, 2008 06:38 AM

                                                                                            Bill, did you ever try thr fried chicken at AQ chicken in Springfield Mo. or Fayetteville ARK. If not you should it was pretty awesome.

                                                                                            1. yayadave Apr 15, 2008 08:16 PM

                                                                                              Two questions come to mind.
                                                                                              1. Could they have just used a simple beer batter?
                                                                                              2. Could they have cooked it in a Broaster?

                                                                                              18 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: yayadave
                                                                                                Bill Hunt Apr 15, 2008 08:53 PM

                                                                                                Yayadave,

                                                                                                I have been giving some thought on the beer batter. Considering that we're talking about Mississippi in the '50s, I doubt that any "good" beer was used. I was toying with a Taddy Porter, or similar, but I'm not sure it that is the correct direction - still a good idea, that might yield another stellar recipe, but cannot see it in their recipe. Still, Annie's, a restaurant down the Coast in Pass Christian, was known for their "beer-batter" shrimp.

                                                                                                Based on my memory of the chicken, I still lean toward a commercial frier of some sorts. However, I could be way, way off-base there. Considering the time, I think that my memory is just not good enough to rule this out, but think that it was fried in some fashion.

                                                                                                They were small, and one had to wait for their order to be prepared. All was done out of view - no presentation kitchens in those days, in those environs. The chicken was served hot, though there was NO grease at all. The paper (wax-coated) never had any grease stains on it. When cold, there was no hint of oil/grease.

                                                                                                We'd pick up a large order, and then head to the marina to go out to sea. We'd likely not actually dine on it, most times, until we were 12-15 miles out to sea. Since this was before mics, and especially on boats, we more often had it cool/cold. Still, succulent and clean tasting. Spicy, but never "hot." I can recall eating it many hours after we picked it up, and it was delicious and never oily. Only wish that there were some old family pictures, as these might help me, my wife and maybe others.

                                                                                                At the worst, my wife will have some great material to try. Like I said, we've had some great fried chicken (several types of frying), so it is not the end of the world. They have all been good and each unique.

                                                                                                Thanks for the input. Even if I never get it down, I will still have won, as I will have eaten very well.

                                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                  alkapal Apr 16, 2008 04:45 AM

                                                                                                  hunt, would agree beer batter unlikely. for shrimp, sure. chicken? nah.

                                                                                                  maybe contact the university's oral history folks: http://www.usm.edu/msoralhistory/contact.htm#biloxi

                                                                                                  or the historical society there? http://www.ms1stop.com/1stop/ms/harri...

                                                                                                  egullet? they have quite a good southern food culture group. i was able to track down my old favorite fried trout almondine -- cafeteria style -- recipe!

                                                                                                  lastly, have you contacted the local newspaper there? or a senator or house member's local office....someone who was around may be able to give you some ideas or contacts.

                                                                                                  i wish you much luck in your search for the chicken grail.

                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                    a
                                                                                                    Analisas mom Apr 16, 2008 06:36 AM

                                                                                                    I grew up in the South and I have had a lot of fantastic fried Chicken. My Fathers's best friend owned a Catfish House in The 60's and he always used pesnut oil to fry the fish as well as the chicken. It makes a huge difference in taste. Also I would be shocked if the chicken was not soaked in butter milk. The best chicken I have ever had is always soaked in butter mild and egg then rolled in flour salt lots of black pepper and all a little sugar to your flour.

                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                      d
                                                                                                      DonnaMmmmm Jun 5, 2009 08:18 PM

                                                                                                      I am looking for what sounds like the same trout recipe. Will you share and, if so, how do we go about it. I am new to this list.

                                                                                                      1. re: DonnaMmmmm
                                                                                                        alkapal Jun 6, 2009 04:47 AM

                                                                                                        donna, welcome to chowhound. here is the recipe from the morrison's cafeteria:
                                                                                                        http://www.hungrybrowser.com/phaedrus...

                                                                                                        "ask and ye shall receive."

                                                                                                        1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                          d
                                                                                                          DonnaMmmmm Jun 6, 2009 07:01 AM

                                                                                                          Thanks! I have been looking for that recipe for at least two years now! I am also looking for a particular bread recipe. It is for the "knot bread" that Sessel's Grocery (closed) in Memphis used to sell. It was not the usual sweet bread that is sold as "knot bread."

                                                                                                          1. re: DonnaMmmmm
                                                                                                            alkapal Jun 6, 2009 07:17 AM

                                                                                                            hey donna, i not only looked for the recipe for a long time, i always have a vain hope i'll see it on someone's menu one day. man, i loved that fish!

                                                                                                            i grew up in fort myers, florida. how about you? memphis?

                                                                                                            donna, i can't help you on the bread question, though. here's what to do: go on the "south" board, create a post to ask about your sessel's grocery "knot bread". i'll bet you find a recipe or someone will have some cookbook or old newspaper article. it'd help to mention when it was being sold -- what decade, e.g. good luck!

                                                                                                            ~~~~edit:

                                                                                                            also look here, there is a "memphis" community on this other recipe site. you can ask for a recipe there, too! http://allrecipes.com/Cooks/USA/South...

                                                                                                            1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                              d
                                                                                                              DonnaMmmmm Jun 6, 2009 02:12 PM

                                                                                                              Yes, lived in Memphis the majority of my life. Have done what you are saying re the bread with no luck. What is the "south" board and how do I get there?

                                                                                                              Thanks for being so helpful.

                                                                                                              1. re: DonnaMmmmm
                                                                                                                alkapal Jun 6, 2009 03:51 PM

                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5091...

                                                                                                                1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                  d
                                                                                                                  DonnaMmmmm Jun 7, 2009 09:14 AM

                                                                                                                  I tried the link but it keeps taking me back here.... Are you sure that is the right link?

                                                                                                                  1. re: DonnaMmmmm
                                                                                                                    yayadave Jun 7, 2009 09:34 AM

                                                                                                                    Try this. Go to the menu at the top of the page. The menu says "Chow" at the left end and "Mychow" at the right end. Click "Chowhound." This will open a window showing all the boards. There you will find boards for "South." You'll want to go to that index often, any way.

                                                                                                                    1. re: DonnaMmmmm
                                                                                                                      alkapal Jun 7, 2009 09:42 AM

                                                                                                                      sorry donna, i don't know what i was thinking. that isn't the link! follow yayadave's instructions to get to the "south" board.
                                                                                                                      edit: i meant to link to the post i did on your behalf! http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/625711

                                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                        d
                                                                                                                        DonnaMmmmm Jun 7, 2009 03:03 PM

                                                                                                                        Thanks! I found it.

                                                                                                      2. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                        yayadave Apr 16, 2008 07:00 AM

                                                                                                        "Then, as each order is received, the chicken is placed inside the Broaster Company manufactured pressure fryer, designed to cook each individual piece of chicken "under pressure" in the chicken's own natural juices, limiting the absorption of cooking oil and driving the marinade deep down to the bone while searing the chicken with a golden, crispy-crunchy coating."
                                                                                                        From the current Broaster site.

                                                                                                        I remember waiting in line for an hour at a little shack to get this around the same time you're talking about.

                                                                                                        1. re: yayadave
                                                                                                          yayadave Apr 16, 2008 07:07 AM

                                                                                                          Here’s some info about broasting. May prove interesting. What I want to say is “be careful.”
                                                                                                          Can You Make Broasted Chicken at Home?
                                                                                                          http://www.ochef.com/374.htm

                                                                                                          1. re: yayadave
                                                                                                            speyerer Apr 16, 2008 07:18 AM

                                                                                                            Isn't a "manufactured pressure fryer" what Col, Sanders used?

                                                                                                            1. re: speyerer
                                                                                                              yayadave Apr 16, 2008 07:51 AM

                                                                                                              A quick trip to Wiki learned me that you're right. I think the differance is that Broaster and KFC use different manufacturer's equipment and different batter. Thanks for pointing that out.

                                                                                                              1. re: yayadave
                                                                                                                alkapal Jun 7, 2009 09:43 AM

                                                                                                                yes, broaster is a trade name and was a franchise operation.

                                                                                                      3. Uncle Bob Apr 15, 2008 10:46 AM

                                                                                                        I wonder what kind of oil the old Alamo used to fry ....??

                                                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Uncle Bob
                                                                                                          roxlet Apr 15, 2008 06:06 PM

                                                                                                          Probably lard!

                                                                                                          1. re: roxlet
                                                                                                            monkeyrotica Apr 16, 2008 04:52 AM

                                                                                                            If it was chicken fried in the 1950s, it was probably lard. Or shortening. The frying agent DEFINITELY has impact on taste and crispiness. The difference between a pie crust made with lard/shortening and one with vegetable oil is night/day.

                                                                                                            Buttermilk soaking is a must, along with frying in a cast iron pan.

                                                                                                            1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                                                                              alkapal Apr 16, 2008 05:13 AM

                                                                                                              crisco was the cooking fat for chicken in our household.

                                                                                                          2. re: Uncle Bob
                                                                                                            Bill Hunt Apr 15, 2008 06:15 PM

                                                                                                            Trying to dissect the flavors, I cannot pull up anything of note. Not bacon, but could be lard. Never saw the apparatus, so I cannot use any info there. Since they were in the Deep South, some rendered fat (lard) is most likely. Also, considering the circa, I'm not sure that some of the more exotic, high-heat oils were in use. Still, nothing in the taste, that gives that away to me. Wesson and Crisco were commercially available then, and both are fairly benign with regards to taste. As my wife deconstructs recipes, I do the same with pure flavors. Maybe this was just too long ago, or the oil did not play that big a role in the flavors. Wish I had a sample, as I'd get a full DNA scan on it! [Grin]

                                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                              Uncle Bob Apr 15, 2008 07:19 PM

                                                                                                              The oil itself may or may not have played a role, but in concert with everything else that was going on it could have had an impact on the final product. A lot of water has been down the river in the last 45-50 years, so it's a long shot. I'll throw a hook in the water, and see if I catch anything...

                                                                                                              Later.......

                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                                chef chicklet May 8, 2008 12:02 PM

                                                                                                                I'm guessing, but my Dad lived at the Naval Home in Gulfport for a few years before he passed and Biloxi was just down the road. He loved all the tiny little rstaurants around there and went often. Previously moved from Florida where he fished. Always a fisherman and great cook, my Dad worked on his batter for fish and chicken constantly. He made a thinnish batter with cornmeal or corn flour which darkens faster than flour when fried. His batter was a mix of I think of a corn flower and something else with a whole lot of dry spices. Turemeric being one which contributed to that gorgeous color. Just guessing. But he would rave about all the great fried foods, his favorite being fried chicken and fish and the reason for exactly you say, the batter was thin, he wanted to taste the fish and chicken.
                                                                                                                I know we're all playing a guessing game here, but thought maybe this might help with your wife being a chef. Good luck!

                                                                                                                1. re: chef chicklet
                                                                                                                  Bill Hunt May 8, 2008 07:59 PM

                                                                                                                  Chef Chicklet,

                                                                                                                  Yes, it is a guessing game. I have tried to conjur up all aspects of this fried chicken recipe, and translate them to my wife. She's worked very hard, as have I, but we keep coming up short.

                                                                                                                  I appreciate the mention of the corn flour, as we had not thought of that. We use variations on cornmeal for many Southern fried dishes, and its consistancy is not correct - the flour, however, might be a missing link, as might the tuemeric, another ingredient, that I had not considered. As I stated, it was spicy, but in no way "hot."

                                                                                                                  At the very least, we should have several variations on fried chicken to try and to enjoy. I may never be able to even come close, but with the "failures," we HAVE dined well on fried chicken.

                                                                                                                  One additional consideration might be with the chicken that we use: free range, boneless and skinless breasts. All of Alamo's chicken was bone-in and no one had even thought about free-range anything, back in those days. I'm not saying that what they used was NOT, only that it was before considerations of such things were made. I may also get skin-on breasts, just in case that fat layer is part of the secret. As I have always been a white-meat eater (with regards to chicken & turkeys), the cut should still work, though maybe also doing a few thighs in the grease/lard/etc. might help too, even if they all go to my MIL, or some worthy neighbor.

                                                                                                                  Again, thanks for the thoughts,
                                                                                                                  Hunt

                                                                                                              2. re: Uncle Bob
                                                                                                                bayoucook Jun 6, 2009 06:55 AM

                                                                                                                Rhett Butler, huh? Gotta lot of those way down here in Dixie!
                                                                                                                (Paula from South Mississippi)

                                                                                                              3. speyerer Apr 15, 2008 07:20 AM

                                                                                                                Fried Chicken
                                                                                                                Serves: 4

                                                                                                                Ingredients:
                                                                                                                • 1 whole frying chicken with skin, cut-up
                                                                                                                • 6 cups solid vegetable oil (Crisco)
                                                                                                                • ⅔ cup all purpose flour
                                                                                                                • 2 teaspoons salt
                                                                                                                • 2 teaspoons paprika
                                                                                                                • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
                                                                                                                • 2 Tablespoons white pepper
                                                                                                                • 3 eggs

                                                                                                                Method:
                                                                                                                1. Cut the chicken into nine pieces.

                                                                                                                Note:
                                                                                                                The various pieces of chicken cook at various rates. So rather than the standard breast-wing-thigh-drumstick configuration, cut the chicken in nine pieces. To do this pull the breastbone of the chicken out with the two tenders still attached. This removes about a third of the meat from each breast, making it more the size of the other pieces.

                                                                                                                2. Set the chicken pieces aside in the open air, and
                                                                                                                allow to sit for about 30 minutes to come to room temperature.
                                                                                                                3. Heat the Crisco to 375 ° F in a deep, black cast iron pot.

                                                                                                                Note:
                                                                                                                Check the oil by dropping in a pinch of the flour mixture; if the oil bubbles rapidly around the flour, it's ready.

                                                                                                                4. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, peppers, and paprika.
                                                                                                                5. Break the eggs into a separate bowl and beat until blended.
                                                                                                                6. Dip each piece of chicken into the egg, then coat generously with the flour mixture.
                                                                                                                7. Once the chicken is coated, it should be placed on a rack to allow the pieces to dry, which may take 20 to 30 minutes.

                                                                                                                Note:
                                                                                                                Allowing the pieces to dry will provide for more even browning of the chicken.

                                                                                                                8. Using tongs, place the chicken pieces in the hot oil, skin side down, one piece at a time.

                                                                                                                Note:
                                                                                                                Leave enough space between pieces so that they are not crowded. This allows the pieces to cook and brown more evenly.

                                                                                                                9. Fry, without turning, for eight to ten minutes.
                                                                                                                10. Turn it over and fry on the other side, again for eight to ten minutes.

                                                                                                                Note:
                                                                                                                Breast meat cooks faster than leg meat of the same size. So consider that as you cook.

                                                                                                                11. The color you're looking for is a bit darker than the usual golden brown.
                                                                                                                12. Salt it lightly.
                                                                                                                13. As you remove the chicken from the pot, drain it on paper towels.
                                                                                                                14. Keep it warm in a 150-degree oven until serving.

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: speyerer
                                                                                                                  Bill Hunt Apr 15, 2008 06:10 PM

                                                                                                                  Speyerer,

                                                                                                                  That intermediate "drying" step looks interesting. We've usually just gone step 1 - X, with no pause. Thanks for the tip. We'll try it tomorrow night, and see what the effect might be.

                                                                                                                  Thanks,
                                                                                                                  Hunt

                                                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                                    BarmyFotheringayPhipps Apr 16, 2008 01:18 PM

                                                                                                                    I was taught how to make fried chicken by my mother-in-law, who was strongly in favor of the drying step -- at least 30 minutes. It does make a big difference in the quality of your crust.

                                                                                                                    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                                                                      bayoucook Jun 6, 2009 06:54 AM

                                                                                                                      I have always done it that way too - maternal grandmother taught me early on - you can't rush perfection! But I drain mine on a rack.

                                                                                                                2. roxlet Apr 14, 2008 05:44 PM

                                                                                                                  My husband, who is from the south, makes the best fried chicken ever. The number one secret to great fried chicken is using a cast iron pan. My husband seasons some buttermilk with cayenne, salt & peper and soaks the chicken in it. How long depends on how far in advance he planned. Put some all-purpose flour in a baggie, and season with salt and pepper. Take the chicken from the buttermilk and drop into the flour, making sure to cover the pieces throughly. Tap excess flour and put skin side down into the pan with about an inch of oil. My husband likes to use peanut oil. When it's properly browned on one side, flip and cook on the other side. Put the cooked chicken on a rack over a sheet pan and keep in a low oven until all are cooked. It's got crunch and it's completely delicious. I think you'll find that this is the "classic" southern fried chicken. There is no batter, but you might think there was if you didn't know.

                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: roxlet
                                                                                                                    d
                                                                                                                    Diane in Bexley Apr 15, 2008 06:06 AM

                                                                                                                    Roxlet, as I mentioned in my post, I too think the cast iron pan is the voodoo in making great fried chicken.

                                                                                                                    1. re: roxlet
                                                                                                                      s
                                                                                                                      smalt Apr 15, 2008 07:24 AM

                                                                                                                      Side note: the current version of buttermilk chicken that I'm using marinates the chicken in a black pepper/salt/cayenne rub for a day or so and then into the buttermilk it goes. I've left it in the buttermilk for 4-5 days and it comes out so moist.....I've also taken to sneaking the spice under the skin to ensure it doesn't all wash off into the buttermilk, for some extra zing.

                                                                                                                      1. re: smalt
                                                                                                                        Bill Hunt Apr 15, 2008 06:07 PM

                                                                                                                        We've got some fresh "free range" breasts in buttermilk for the fourth day, in hopes of trying yet another recipe. I'll report if we get closer to my "holy grail" of fried chicken.

                                                                                                                        As I've said, wife has not turned out any bad chicken, just not getting to what I recall from my youth. Too bad that she never saw/tasted Alamo, as I know that she'd be able to deconstruct the recipe/prep, even 45 years later. She's great at that sort of thing.

                                                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                                                    2. u
                                                                                                                      uptown jimmy Apr 14, 2008 11:12 AM

                                                                                                                      I think I know exactly what you're talking about. K&W Cafeterias in Winston-Salem, NC used to serve the sort of fried chicken I think you're talking about. The crust was almost smooth, though it had some texture, and it was incredibly thin, but substantial, and very crunchy. I LOVED that stuff as a child.

                                                                                                                      And I'm going to step out on a limb and say that they dipped the chicken in a batter, as opposed to forming a crust with egg (or buttermilk) and flour. I'd place money on it.

                                                                                                                      K&W used to serve really good Southern food, but they've sorta gone downhill over the years....

                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: uptown jimmy
                                                                                                                        Bill Hunt Apr 14, 2008 05:12 PM

                                                                                                                        Uptown Jimmy,

                                                                                                                        I think you've had similar. It is had to describe, as it's a bit of a paradox - how can it be smooth, AND thin? But, it was. Yes, there was a little texture, but nothing like what I normally see with fried chicken.

                                                                                                                        We're into trying variations on "cake batter," but obviously for chicken. Wife has tried all sorts of double-dipping, and double-batter, but we're still quite a ways away on this one.

                                                                                                                        I peruse the history jorunals from the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, in hope that someone, somewhere will have the Alamo recipe, but I've never seen mention of it.

                                                                                                                        We still keep picking up Southern cookbooks and trying variations (now I have to look for Amish cookbooks too!). We've had a lot of really good fried chicken, but I do not feel that we're getting that close. Maybe my wife can do a fried chicken cookbook, with all of her variations

                                                                                                                        Thanks for the thoughts and ideas,
                                                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                                          m
                                                                                                                          moh Apr 14, 2008 05:32 PM

                                                                                                                          Bill, I would buy your wife's fried chicken cookbook... Please ask her to consider working on that! I've had to postpone my visit to the South again, and I am in serious fried chicken withdrawal. I am enjoying my vicarious fried chicken experience on this thread.

                                                                                                                          1. re: moh
                                                                                                                            Bill Hunt Apr 14, 2008 05:40 PM

                                                                                                                            I'll talk to her, and see what develops. A good friend of ours is on her third one now, and the previous two have been top sellers.

                                                                                                                            I thought for sure, that we'd get closer, when watching an episode on the Travel Channel last month, as it featured "The Best Fried Chicken" in the US. We did get some ideas for places to try, and three of them were in areas, that we travel to.

                                                                                                                            Should you do a Deep South trip, let me know, and I'll give you some personal favs. in many areas.

                                                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                                                          2. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                                            u
                                                                                                                            uptown jimmy Apr 14, 2008 05:37 PM

                                                                                                                            I think the batter must have been the sort of thing used for onion rings, fried mushrooms, stuff like that. The crust on this chicken definitely didn't adhere to the chicken the way a good dredging will, but it was shatteringly crunchy and very tasty, and I didn't mind picking the pieces off the plate. Also, I'm sure it was deep-fried, not pan-fried.

                                                                                                                            I may have to head back there on a return visit to my hometown and see if it's still as good, though they have certainly let their standards slip from pervious heights of country goodness. They expanded to many locations and the quality of the food just went downhill...canned whipped topping on the pies instead of meringue, etc....

                                                                                                                            1. re: uptown jimmy
                                                                                                                              chicgail May 7, 2008 07:41 AM

                                                                                                                              Buttermilk pancake batter makes great onion rings. Has anyone ever used it for fried chicken?

                                                                                                                        2. d
                                                                                                                          Diane in Bexley Apr 14, 2008 06:21 AM

                                                                                                                          Bill, I can't claim any chops for Southern fried chicken, having grown up kosher (no longer practice kosher) and Jewish in Columbus, Ohio. But, there are many Amish communities near us and have learned through the years to make a pretty passable fried chicken. There are a couple of things that make this exceptional, the chicken is Gerber brand, which is a local Amish processor, extremely tasty, about 3 - 3.5 lbs each whole. I cut up my own chickens in 8 pieces. I do an overnight soak in buttermilk seasoned with Lawry's season salt, onion & garlic powder, black pepper and Hungarian Szeged mild paprika.

                                                                                                                          An hour or two before frying, I flour the chicken in whole wheat flour seasoned with more Lawry's season salt, onion & garlic powder, black pepper and Hungarian Szeged mild paprika. Let it sit to dry a little on wire rack. I don't deep fry, but pan fry in 12 in iron skillet about 3 in of canola oil heated to 350-375. Start dark meat first, skin side down, add white meat about 5-10 min later. Usually make 2 chickens.

                                                                                                                          Disclaimer: personally I think the seasoned cast iron pan makes all the difference in the world. I actually bought this pan "used" at a garage sale about 25 years ago. You can't buy that kind of taste, it comes from being used over and over again and being properly treated.

                                                                                                                          Traditionally serve this with homemade biscuits, corn spoon bread casserole (kicked up with Tabasco), green beans and a fruit cobbler for dessert.

                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Diane in Bexley
                                                                                                                            Bill Hunt Apr 14, 2008 04:55 PM

                                                                                                                            Diane,

                                                                                                                            Your comment on the whole wheat flour got me thinking. I've been playing with adding a bit of molassas or sorghum to the batter, as the dark brown color was something that we just could not master. Maybe it was in the flour?

                                                                                                                            I do not know how they cooked the chicken, but would assume a commercial deep-fryer. We have a semi-commercial unit that we've tried, plus BOTH of my wife's cast iron skillets - the one she got from her Italian grandmother, and the one that my mother willed to her.

                                                                                                                            I'll also look into the Lawry's. I've seen it, and an ex-partner used to do a lot of their advertising photography, but I do not recall ever having used it.

                                                                                                                            Wife also commented on the Amish fried chicken, when she was at Wharton. I've never had any, but have heard very good things.

                                                                                                                            Thanks for the ideas,
                                                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                                              alkapal Apr 14, 2008 05:19 PM

                                                                                                                              fyi, lawrey's is perfect on cottage cheese.

                                                                                                                              1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                                Bill Hunt Apr 14, 2008 05:42 PM

                                                                                                                                Interesting. I usually do course-ground black pepper and paprika (usually smoked), but I'll definitely give Lawry's a go. I like my cottage cheese with spices, so it sounds like a match.

                                                                                                                                Thanks,
                                                                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                                                  danhole Apr 16, 2008 09:52 AM

                                                                                                                                  McCormick's Season All is a bit better than Lawry's IMO. It's a little less salty.

                                                                                                                                  Cottage cheese is really good with Morton's Natures Seasons and a bit of dill weed. Now if I only had some cottage cheese.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: danhole
                                                                                                                                    alkapal Apr 16, 2008 03:06 PM

                                                                                                                                    yeah, lawrey's is salty.

                                                                                                                            2. re: Diane in Bexley
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                                                                                                                              Westy Apr 15, 2008 07:02 AM

                                                                                                                              I went to school in Western PA - discovered the wonders of Amish fried chicken. I think you have it nailed - they did not seem to drop it in a fryer, but sort of maneuver it around a deep cast iron pan.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Diane in Bexley
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                                                                                                                                biblebeltbabe Sep 3, 2008 02:13 PM

                                                                                                                                I discovered Gerber chicken when we were in Wooster, OH, 5 years ago, for my husband's class reunion. We needed some groceries for the week in our RV, so I picked up a whole chicken at some grocery store in town. I decided to fry it that night for supper and it was the best chicken I've had since I was a kid. It tasted like chicken USED to taste in the 50's or 60's. I asked about Gerber chicken and went to the library to find out more. A Gerber family started that business about 1952, not long before my husband left that area to go into the Air Force, so that is why he didn't know about it. That company told us that they never freeze the chicken and only truck it to an area of about 500 miles from Kidron, OH. My husband's stepmother's maiden name was Gerber, but I still don't know if she was related to the Gerber Chicken people or not. We drove out to the plant one day and bought some more fresh chicken to take on our way, after the reunion was over.

                                                                                                                                Wayne Co., OH, has the highest number of Amish and Menonites per capital of any county in the country. Being from MS, the Amish intrigue me, and they are fascinated how I met and married a man from that area.

                                                                                                                                If you are ever in that area, try to find some of their chicken, fry it and see if that makes a difference in the taste. I think most chicken was fried in lard back in the old days, so that might help to recapture that taste you are seeking.

                                                                                                                                biblebeltbabe

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