Some people like breasts. Others prefer legs. I’m a thigh man myself. Before you call me a pervert, relax – I’m talking about today’s food holiday. July 6 is National Fried Chicken Day!
Fried foods have existed since the Middle Ages, when they were known as fritters. Almost anything was breaded and fried back then, including meat, seafood, and fruit (but sadly, Twinkies wouldn’t hit the deep fryer for another 500 years or so). The Scottish traditionally deep fried chicken, whereas their European counterparts were more likely to bake or boil theirs. When Scots immigrated to America and settled in the southern U.S., they brought along their favorite fried chicken recipes. African slaves who worked as cooks took a liking to fried chicken, mainly because plantation owners allowed them to raise chickens, which were cheap and plentiful. They added their own spices and seasonings to “kick it up a notch,” as Emeril is fond of saying, and fried chicken soon became a Southern staple, often served on special occasions. The invention of the cast iron skillet and the growing use of lard as a byproduct of hog rendering plants helped spread the popularity of the dish.
In 1930, a service station owner in Corbin, Kentucky named Harlan Sanders began cooking and serving fried chicken, ham, and steaks for his customers. His dishes became so popular he opened a restaurant in a nearby motel and, over the next several years, perfected his “secret recipe” for frying chicken in a pressure fryer, with a blend of 11 herbs and spices. In 1949 his friend, the Governor of Kentucky, recommissioned him as a “Kentucky Colonel” and soon after he began wearing his distinctive trademark white suit and string tie, and grew a mustache and goatee which he dyed white to match his hair. Quite a fella, the Colonel, but it’s hard to argue with success: in 1952 he franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken and became a very rich man. KFC was instrumental in helping to launch fast food fried chicken chains.
In honor of the holiday, I wanted to make my own fried chicken. I have a recipe that’s both tried and true and tastes excellent. But we were on the go all day today, hiking up near Mount St. Helens. We got home late in the afternoon and didn’t feel like going to all the trouble of making from-scratch chicken…not when there was a Popeye’s a few miles away willing to do all the dirty work for us! I guess we should have opted for KFC since I wrote about them here, but I’ve long thought Popeye’s serves better chicken.
- 6.17.12 … 16 Must-Try Fried Chicken Spots … Only two restaurants in The South … You have to be kidding me … (teaguenc.wordpress.com)
- Yes, Fried Chicken Jokes are Racist (theroot.com)