Yeah, I Know. But I Brought You A Present!

So… It’s been a while.

I’m aware of that.

Now if I had really planned ahead, this would be the place where I would insert a really good reason/valid excuse for my prolonged absence from my beloved ‘Bloomr nation, and it would be so heartwarming and well-written you would all just forget about my shameful neglect and focus instead on the happy fact that I’M BACK, and boy howdy, did you ever miss me! And then rainbows and unicorns would shoot out of my butt and we’d all skip down the sidewalk holding hands.

I also considered making up a big whopper of a sad story, which would serve to make you feel so sorry that you had judged me harshly for being such a lazy, BAD BAD BLOGGER that you would bust out in tears and possibly start sending me your tithes.

But I’m not going to make a big deal out of it because I think that would just be awkward for both of us. I feel the best thing to do is for me to keep the explanations, the excuses, and the self-recriminations to a minimum and just move forward. We’re all adults here. There’s no reason we can’t work through this temporary emotional setback with the help of God and some group therapy, and come to a place of resolution and forgiveness and–

OK, truth is, I’ve been having such a great/busy time settling into my new home and hometown that I just gave myself permission to take a slight vacation from blogging. But I started missing you terribly and feeling guilty for abandoning my post, so anyway–

I’m back!

Now, shhh… *puts finger to your lips*  We’ll never speak of this again.

As a reward for your loyalty and forgiveness, I am going to share one of the very best discoveries I have made since I moved to Bell Buckle, TN– and that’s saying a lot, friends, because I discover something new and remarkable about this town almost every day! But yeah, that’s right, I am going to give you all the recipe for THE MAYOR’S FRIED CHICKEN, which should be a state secret (and hopefully isn’t, since I am sharing it here.  I do not ever want to get our Mayor Dennis annoyed with me because who knows what other recipes he might have up his mayoral sleeve..?)

It is dang near foolproof, and honestly produces the best fried chicken I have ever eaten, much less made. Russ was a PK (preacher’s kid), and all of those stereotypes about eatin’ the gospel bird every Sunday are pretty  much true, so once he left home, he had more than eaten his fill of fried chicken, and never ever requested it a single time once we got married. (Ah, those early golden days of marriage, when I actually asked him what he wanted me to make for dinner… *dabs at a tear*) But I’ve always loved fried chicken, and have eaten it at some of the best Southern meat-and-threes across this great nation of ours. This recipe produces exactly the kind of chicken I love– crispy, well-seasoned outside, juicy inside, and not so greasy that you have to use 5 napkins to eat it. I have now made it about 4 or 5 times, and I’ve gotten it down to a science– and an art. It’s an art and science fried chicken extravaganza, people!

This recipe came my way the weekend after the Moon Pie Festival. On that Saturday afternoon, I was just sitting around my parlor minding my own business and wearing my Moon Pie hat– apparently the big crown and fake-fur-trimmed cape/robe thingy were just for the coronation and I had to give them back,  which was disappointing because up to this point my life has suffered from a distinct lack of  big crowns and queenly cape/robes. But the hat works, too. 

Anywho, my phone rings and it’s our Mayor Dennis, who tells me that by the way, he really likes to cook and one of his specialties is fried chicken. This was sounding really good so far. Then he proceeds to tell me that when he makes fried chicken, he makes A LOT, because he shares it with people. And if the Taff family did indeed like chicken and might want some, he was planning on making several big batches the next day  and could drop some by the house around 10:30 in the morning, if that was OK. I think I yelled, “YES! FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, YES PLEASE!!!” before he finished the sentence. I may have scared him a little. But true to his word, the next morning there was a knock on the door and there he stood with a big platter of freshly fried chicken. The mayor brought us chicken, ya’ll! I thanked him profusely, and proceeded to carry the chicken into the kitchen, but didn’t make it past the dining room before I skidded to a stop. While the rest of the family was puttering around upstairs, blissfully unaware of what delights were in store for them, I sat at that table all by myself and ate two wings and a drumstick in short order. And holy schnikies, was it ever GOOD.

When I called Mayor Dennis back to thank him yet again (and rave about his chicken), he did something I always admire and appreciate so much– he willingly offered up the recipe and step by step foolproof directions, bless him. He said fried chicken is a favorite of his, and he has tried every variation of every kind  of ‘famous’ recipe that’s out there– dipped in buttermilk or an egg/milk combo, adding honey, marinating overnight, cayenne pepper spicy, etc.– and THIS recipe that he got from a wonderful African American cook, in all of it’s simplistic perfection, is the one he settled in on. There’s no startling secret ingredient revelation and it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but he told me if I stick to the recipe religiously and do exactly what it says, that I, too, will produce perfect fried chicken…

The first time I made it, I let it cook slightly longer than I should have once I turned the pieces over to fry the other side. I didn’t burn it, but though it was still delicious, it was ever-so-slightly dryer inside than the mayor’s batch. By the second time I made sure that didn’t happen, and I produced a gorgeous replica of the glorious original: TA-DA!!

Even Russ loves it and pronounced it the best he’s ever had, which is a big hairy ringing endorsement considering that whole PK thing I mentioned previously. Ditto for Madi Rose. But it is my Charlotte, my adorkable, never-met-a-white/fried-food-she-didn’t-like kid that gave me the reaction I was looking for– the child Lost. Her. Mind. and matched me piece for piece, which was no small feat considering I may or may not have eaten my weight in it every time I have made it.

It occurs to me at this point that I might be over-selling it just a wee bit…

NAH– it’s really THAT GOOD! (But do take into consideration the fact that  up to this point I never made fried chicken at home, so OK, maybe there is a little bit of a novelty factor going on here.) (But yeah, it is still THAT GOOD.)

So, here it is. Read it and eat.


**Heat ½ inch vegetable/canola oil to 350 degrees in an electric skillet. (I use a big ol’ 16 inch electric skillet. And I may go get another one soon, so I can do two batches at once.)

**Wash chicken pieces (wings and drumsticks) thoroughly. (The Mayor only uses wings and drumsticks, because a) that seems to be everyone’s favorite pieces and b) they cook through at almost the exact same rate.)

 **Put generous amount of flour in large bowl, dredge chicken thoroughly through flour, then dredge again—do not shake off excess. (I’m talking DREDGE THOROUGHLY– like, use both hands and squish the flour into those pieces!)

**Place chicken in skillet, can barely touch, but don’t cram them up next to each other. Salt and pepper the top of the chicken VERY generously.  (This is KEY!  Use more than you think you need– don’t go nuts, but be generous. Season only one side at a time once they are in the pan frying, not mixed into the flour. Also, if you want to add a tiny bit of your favorite seasoning– I like Aunt Cora’s Down Home Seasoning I get at Kroger’s– you can do it now.) Put lid on the skillet and try not to check or mess with it AT ALL for about 25-30 minutes.

**Check it– should be kind of orange-y golden, not too dark, but not too pale. When it looks right, carefully turn over to the other side, season it with salt and pepper, replace cover and cook for about another 10- 15 minutes. (Check it after about 10 minutes so you don’t let it get too brown– it cooks way faster than you expect, once you turn it!)

**Remove from skillet, place on large platter covered with paper towels. (Try not to eat it so fast that you choke, or something. Because I would feel really bad about that.)

You’re welcome. *curtseys deeply, tries to look modest*

OK– if any of you actually make this, I really want to hear about it! And take pictures!




5 Responses

  1. bettyrwoodward

    Welcome back. You have been sorely missed!
    The fried chicken looks great but I have a feeling if I made it, I’d eat it and the inches would go on even more!
    Glad to hear you are enjoying your new home. We move tomorrow but only a few minutes away from where we are now.

  2. auburn60

    OK, yes, I was feeling terribly abandoned …BUT…y’know…if there’s CHICKEN…

    Not gonna lie. I’m probably not gonna make this. I don’t like the mess from fried chicken and I’m only cooking for one or two at the most these days. But for a church event, maybe. When I feel all ambitious and plan ahead. (Who’m I kidding?)

    What is it about chicken? My FIL, who never says a bad word about anyone, has been known to refer to certain “men of the cloth” that he doesn’t like as “Chicken- eating preachers”. I have absolutely no idea where that comes from but it’s about the worst epitaph I’ve ever heard him use about anybody. Must be regional or something.

    What I want to know is if you have decided on paint colors for the exterior of the house?

  3. LindaB

    Okay, I LOVE FRIED CHICKEN! I make it at least once a week. My family gets tired of it, but I don’t care—–I WANT IT, and I’m calling the shots in this kitchen! I have tried many different recipes and made up some of my own. Your mayor’s recipe is how my Mom used to make it. My late mother-in-law drenched it in flour and baked it in butter and you would swear she fried it. I have drenched it in crushed pecans, or marinated it in soy sauce, honey and cinnamon, or fried it in oil that I just fried onions in—–saw that one on the Food Channel when they featured a B&B out east that was famous for their fried chicken. Last week I tried Tricia Yearwood’s recipe and brined it in salt water (I threw in some crushed garlic) and it was delicious. I couldn’t chose a favorite recipe because I loved them all! Frying chicken and then eating it is my hobby!

    You’re really having fun there in your new neighborhood, aren’t ya? That’s a good thing. I missed your blog, but I’m glad you found something that gives you so much joy.

    I also agree with Alyson——-I want to know what colors you chose for the exterior of your house. And I’d LOVE to see how you’re decorating the inside.

  4. Barbara M. Lloyd

    It’s been rumored that the reason you have been absent for so long is because you were up on your roof trying to match colors for the trim…and one of those cats was chasing her tail and accidentally knocked down your ladder. You had neglected to take your cell phone with you. Russ was away on a singing engagement. Madi was back at school….and Char was eating lots of fried chicken that was so crisp and crunchy she couldn’t hear you calling out. Then, of course, your voice became weak ao not even the cats could hear you above their purring from eating all those chicken bones. And there you were for several days until that friendly mayor came along with his wife. Well, talk about blessings…The mayor’s dear wife told you to jump and she would catch you. Just love those friendly folks in Bell Buckle….and that’s the end of my story.

  5. tori

    bettyrwoodward: Thanks, I missed you guys too. I’m anxious to hear how your move is going- I guarantee you are much better organized than I am!

    auburn60: OK, with my big ol’ electric skillet AND its lid, it’s really not messy at all! I’m still trying to figure out paint colors, inside AND out– I’m going slow…

    LindaB: Yeah, I’m gonna be wanting the recipes for ALL of those things you just mentioned.

    Momma Lloyd: I LOVE your stories– they’re always so much better than my real life!

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