Growing up, my Nana babysat us while my mom was working. Nana and Papa lived just around the corner from our house. Nana was raised on a farm in Mississippi and would tell us she rose with the chickens every day. She was up at 5:00 a.m. making breakfast for Papa, eggs and toast as I remember, and then packing his lunch for his workday.
On weekdays when she watched us. During the summers she would make us breakfast in the mornings after my mom dropped us off for the day. To this day I sometimes crave waffles (the frozen kind) with lots of butter and syrup, just like Nana would make me for breakfast.
While we were playing throughout the day she would have her soap opera's or game shows on the TV. Most days something would be on the stove about mid-day to get a start on dinner. All the while, she might be ironing, cleaning, or stopping to play a card game with us kids. Depending on the year, any number of my cousins would also be at Nana's while our mom's and dad's were at work.
My favorite day each week was the day Nana would make fried chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner. Being from the south Nana made us a lot of southern food for dinner, but her fried chicken was my favorite. I still compare all fried chicken to hers. I have yet to find one that truly comes close. She passed in 1999, and I haven't had her fried chicken since long before that.
I have never made my own real fried chicken. After I started cooking in my 20's I realized how it was made and felt guilty cooking something so fattening. I just saved fried chicken for a rare occasion when I was eating out. About 16 years ago, I got a cookbook by Oprah's chef called "In the Kithchen with Rosie", which ironically, Nana's name was Rosie. In this book was a recipe for "Almost Fried Chicken".
I have been making this chicken a few times a year; working at adapting the recipe to get it just right. While it doesn't come close to my Nana's fried chicken, every time I make it, I think of her. It looks a lot the same, but it is a lot healthier than that one I grew up with.
I do think I have got the look pretty close. I usually make a lot so we have it for leftovers for a couple of nights and eat it up for lunch.
Here is how I make it:
Almost Fried Chicken (as adapted from, "In the Kitchen with Rosie")
10 thighs, skinless if available
About 2 cups nonfat yogurt
Breading (I make a lot more than I actually end up using, I'll explain why in a minute)
2-3 cups of Italian Bread Crumbs
2-3 cups of flour
2-3T Old Bay Seasoning
1-2tsp garlic powder and Creole seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
Wash chicken, skin if desired, and place in a bowl of ice water. Set aside while making the breading mixture. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Put about 1/3 - 1/2 of the breading mixture in a Ziploc bag. Put yogurt in a shallow bowl. I recommended using at least 2 pairs of tongs. Have a cookie sheet prepared sprayed generously with cooking spray.
Dip each piece of chicken in the yogurt mixture (1-2 at a time) coating well, but try to avoid big clumps. Put dipped chicken in Breading Mixture bag (shake) and remove chicken from bag with tongs (spray the whole piece of chicken with cooking spray generously to coat (this will help it crisp) and put on cookie sheet. Repeat until all chicken is coated. Start a new bag of mixture (from the remaining set aside) as each bag gets too clumpy to coat the chicken properly. I usually get by with 2-3 bags depending on how much chicken I am making. Before placing in oven, spray the top of all the chicken one more time with cooking spray. You want to try to make sure all the dried breading mixture is coated.
Bake in 400 degree oven for about an hour, turning at least once half way through.
Thanks for letting me reminisce a bit. Happy Thursday!