Country Kitchen: Fried, Baked or Barbecued Chicken for Summe

Country Kitchen: Fried, Baked or Barbecued Chicken for Summe

By Mary Emma Allen

Summer ushers in the season of picnics and barbecues. This becomes a time of outdoor dining and often cooking on the grill. Families and friends gather for these meals and try a variety of recipes, often a potluck type of gathering, with each one bringing a specialty.

High on the traditional American outdoor menu is chicken, usually fried or barbecued. In this day of calorie counting, chicken, broiled or baked, has gained favor.

Chicken Throughout the Country

Fried chicken varies greatly throughout the country. This dish stems from one basic recipe of rolling chicken in a coating and seasonings, then frying until crisp and golden brown.

The subtle variations in different regions gives fried chicken its distinctiveness. The coatings for the chicken pieces before frying or baking make for a great many variations in flavor.

The simplest, and usually considered the "northern way," is a covering of flour-salt-pepper. The chicken is cooked in a covered skillet for half the frying time. Then it's cooked uncovered until crisp and tender, according to my mother-in-law who made fried chicken for many Sunday dinners.

The addition of spices and herbs to the coating - paprika, allspice, poultry seasoning, marjoram, fines herbes, parsley flakes, or celery salt - give unique changes in flavor.

Southern Fried Chicken

Southern cooks often use a batter coating for their fried chicken. Or they dip it first in beaten eggs, then into seasoned flour or corn meal before frying.

I recall, in my childhood, traveling from New York State to visit Mother's friend in Virginia. Aunt Pat prepared batter fried chicken for the supper meal. I don't remember what else she served, but she made some of the fluffiest, most delicious biscuits to accompany the chicken.

Some southern cooks roll chicken pieces in bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper. Then it's sautéed in hot butter or oil until golden; finish cooking in covered pan in moderate oven.

Heap this on a platter and serve with a cream gravy made from the drippings. The gravy may be poured over the chicken on the platter.

Other Accompaniments

Grits are favored accompaniments at many southern meals, although whipped sweet potato casserole may be served, too.

In the north, mashed potatoes and gravy are commonly served with fried chicken. Some cooks accompany fried chicken with rice...steamed and served with butter or made into a casserole.

Low Calorie Variations

With the concern for fried foods in the diet and so many people watching their weight, lower calorie variations of this food have evolved. These modern recipes call for baking the chicken rather than frying it.

Simply dip or roll in batter, flour, or crumbs and seasonings. Then place on baking sheet and bake in a moderate oven until done, about an hour.

Also, some cooks remove the skin from the chicken pieces before cooking to decrease the fat and calories.

'TATER FRIED CHICKEN is a modern variation of this dish. Dip cut-up chicken pieces in mixture of 1 beaten egg and 2 tablespoons water. Roll pieces in instant mashed potato flakes (not granular type), salt and pepper and other seasonings of your choosing. Fry until golden and tender or sauté and finish baking in a 350 degree F. oven.

Serve with mashed potatoes, vegetable of your choice, hot biscuits, and cole slaw.

(C) 2003 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing her "Cooking Column" for newspapers and online publications for 30 years and has compiled a family cookbook. SheÂ’s currently compiling a cookbook/story book, "Tales From a Country Kitchen." Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

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