Friday, September 24, 2010
Chicken in the Skillet
The posts from Georgia Black Crackers and Finding Eliza reminded me of the memories I have surrounding a chicken meal. Whether it was company coming or going to visit, fried chicken was usually the center of attention. In my childhood home, chicken was a barometer on how well financially the family was doing. When there was no chicken in the cast iron skillet, we knew money was scarce and for a good portion of my childhood that was the way it was. When my father returned home, the chicken came home with him.
My mother was a good cook and like Jesus she had the gift of multiplying. She could take one chicken and make two meals for seven people. One day fried chicken and the following meal, chicken "n" dumplings, chicken pot pie or rice in chicken broth with okra and tomatoes. We children would tease each other when we manage to find chicken in a spoonful of my mother's tasty dishes.
I was a senior in high school when my father discovered I didn't know how to cut up a chicken. Mama purchased whole chickens. My hungry dad displayed a rare moment of domesticity trying to see to it that the chicken was cut up, so, by the time my mother was home she could get busy seasoning and frying but I put a wrinkle in his plans. My mother must have gotten an earful from my dad on the ride home because when she came in she taught me how to cut up the barnyard princess.
She showed me joints, how to separate the leg from the thigh. She made sure I took a piece of the breast when cutting the wing. Two legs, two thighs, two wings, resting in the bowl. Once the breast and back were separated, she showed me how to remove the breast bone and cut the breast into four portions. Backs, necks, livers, and gizzards were sometimes fried and sometimes used to make a broth. Nothing was wasted, we cooked it all.
My twenty something old children love my fried chicken from the cast iron skillet. The above picture shows how they use chicken to entertain friends. It has been a long time since I cut up a whole chicken and I have no plans to teach my daughters or my son the skill. I suppose I am the last of my line to learn.