Where I am from there are 3 things a woman must be able to cook consistently, before she is considered a "good" cook.
1) good fried chicken (the kind that is always gone first at any pot luck, or picnic)
2) potato salad, sooo good you eat it every day for a month and not tire of it.
3) macaroni and cheese, we are talking REAL macaroni and cheese.
I am a third generation American on my Mom's side. They came from Germany, and settled in Nebraska to ranch and farm. My Mom was the oldest daughter out of 8 living children. Grandma had lost 2 at birth. They ranched, ran a dairy, and farmed.
My Mom grew up in a house where you made bread 2 days a week, woke at 5:00am to milk cows, feed chickens, horses, pigs. The had ringer washer, hung clothes out to freeze dry, even in winter. If you wanted to eat meat, you learned how to hunt it, or kill it, and clean it. She learned to cook for about 20 people at a sitting. They had farmhands and other family to feed part of the time. She learned from her Mother to fry up chickens at a young age. I always swore my Mom made the best fried chicken.....Next to my grandma's.
For those of you who have never fried chicken, it is hard. There are a lot of mistakes to be made. I have several friends that cannot even cut a chicken up properly. You have to make sure your oil is not too hot, or too cool. Otherwise it will burn, or be raw in the center. You need a "pan" good for frying chicken. My Mom used a cast iron skillet that was her Moms.
Mom, cleaned chicken in cool water, dredged it through a mix of flour, salt and pepper, fried it in Crisco. Simple enough huh? I tried it and tried it for years, and it just never was right. It never did taste like my Moms or grandma's. It was "ok". I will add this disclaimer, none of the cooks in my family use a recipe. They simply cook on instinct, so when learning to cook you had to really pay attention.
Frickin chicken... When we moved down south I was listening to the radio one morning, a "cooking" segment. They had a secret to make Southern Fried Chicken.
Guess what? I tried it, and everyone loves my fried chicken now. Here is the closest recipe I could find. I will also tell you this. I use an electric skillet, and I also fry the chicken in olive oil. DO SOAK the chicken in the buttermilk the entire 24 hours, it makes it so moist, and tasty.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
1 whole chicken, cut up
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper
for frying (about 4 cups)
Place chicken pieces in zip-lock
bag. Mix buttermilk with 1 teaspoon
salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Pour
mixture over chicken; seal bag, then
refrigerate for at least 2 hours and
up to 24 hours.
Combine flour, 1 teaspoon salt and
pepper (to taste). Completely coat
chicken with flour, shake off excess
and place on large wire rack set over
a jelly-roll pan.
Heat about 4 cups shortening (1/2-inch
depth)in deep 12-inch frying pan over
medium-high heat. Place chicken skin
side down into hot shortening; cover
and cook for 5 minutes. Check to see
if chicken is frying evenly, rearrange
if necessary. Cover again and cook
until chicken is evenly browned, about
5 minutes longer. Turn chicken over
and cook, uncovered until chicken is
done, about 10-15 minutes longer. Remove
chicken and return to wire rack to drain.
*In place of buttermilk, you can combine
3 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt in
a large bowl; add chicken. Cover and
chill 8 hours. Drain chicken; rinse with
cold water, and pat dry. Proceed with
There you are, I can fry up a delicious chicken now, but my Grandma and Mom's way is LOST...Which makes me feel a little sad.
Now for that darn macaroni and cheese, which is not working out for me.