The other night it was too late to start a movie, but not late enough to go to bed and the televised shows were the equivalent of Death Valley. That’s how it came about that I watched Alton Brown’s Good Eats which is now showing on the Cooking Channel. They are starting with some early shows which I’ve never seen. This show was the “Fire Hard 2: The Chicken” episode from Season Four. Admittedly, I rolled my eyes when it came on and he announced that tonight’s show was about frying chicken. What could there possibly be to talk about frying chicken that everyone, especially Southerners, don’t already know? Well, you know Alton; he never fails to entertain or inform.
There it sat in all it’s unfeathered glory, the fryer extraordinaire, ready to become tonight’s dinner. Alton’s was whole since, as he explained, a fryer stays fresh longer if it isn’t cut into pieces until ready for use. Then, he proceeded to show a method for disassembling a fryer that, with a few tweaks, looked quicker. First, he removed the wishbone which made it easier to remove the wings and later the breasts. Truth to tell, his knife was really sharp which is a kind of nirvana which I never have attained. Plus, it is difficult to tell how long it took Alton what with film editing and speeding up film and all their other tricks.
Before long, the chicken lay in pieces which he then covered with low-fat buttermilk to soak for four to twelve hours. After the commercial, he put together the spices he wanted to use and put it directly on the chicken which was then dredged with flour allowing it to rest then for about ten minutes. Using that method allows the spices to soak into the chicken while it’s cooking Alton said. But then, Alton and I parted company. He cooked his chicken in Crisco which I found terribly disturbing. People follow him and his methods and while chicken fried in Crisco is wonderful, what it does to your insides is horrible. He did make the point that frying it in three inches of oil allows for a crispy skin and a moist meat.
His chicken looked, and I’ll bet it tasted, just like that my mother used to make with the sweet little brown spot where the chicken rested on the cast iron skillet. Fried chicken is a treat to be had rarely like fudge and other “sinful” foods, but each bite becomes a moment to remember, a moment of ecstasy. Thanks, Alton, for the lesson.