Tuesday, December 8, 2009

KFC, Abuela style

pickin chicken menu Photo courtesy of: RetroJason via Flickr

When I sat down to pick my next recipe, I came across this one and realized that it was none other than southern style fried chicken. Rich batter fried chicken. Nitza calls this Pollo a lo Miami, which is confusing because why would anyone think that batter-fried chicken is chicken Miami-style?

Growing up, my husband and his cousins used to go to the beach every weekend with their aunt Bivi and a bucket of fried chicken from KFC, or as Bivi would call it, Pickin’ Chicken. They would play in the beach for hours, come out and eat sandy greasy chicken and go back in the water to play.

Many of us have grandmothers and aunts that – to this day – call KFC, Pickin’ Chicken. Many of us don’t know why, but from what I found out, there was a restaurant in Miami Beach that was called Pickin’ Chicken. Did our grandmothers name KFC, Pickin’ Chicken, just because it was their first experience with fried chicken made this way?

I don’t know, but if anyone does, please feel free to share.

Recipe #166: Pollo a lo Miami

Pollo a lo Miami ingredients
This recipe looked easy enough, I decided I wanted to attack it while in the midst of US1 traffic on my drive home one night. Thanksgiving had taken so much out of me, two weeks had almost gone by without another cooking session.

I called my parents, told them to come on over and we were on our way to eating fried chicken for dinner. There was nothing tricky about this recipe. Nitza had asked that I get a two pound chicken and cut it into eighths. Well, now that I’m fifty recipes into The Project, I knew better and planned for a quick stop at Winn Dixie on my drive home to pick up the pre-cut chicken parts.

The eyes are rolling. I know, I know. There’s nothing quick about any of this, but this time, I swore, it was going to be fast.

I got home (thirty minutes later thanks to rush hour traffic I had jumped out of), plopped the chicken on the counter, took out an egg, milk, flour, salt, pepper and vegetable oil – I was ready. See, easy.

I whisked the egg with the milk, flour, salt and pepper while I heated the oil in a cast-iron skillet (my first skillet and this was a great way to break it in!!).

When I dipped the first piece of chicken in the batter and threw it in the oil for frying, I felt like if I was making a down home southern fried chicken – seriously. Someone pass me a biscuit!

coating chicken in batter

This thing was southern southern southern – and Nitza called it Miami-style?

After cooking each piece for about ten minutes, my family was ready (and starving). Nitza says that ten minutes is all you need, so when I took out the biggest piece and cut into it to check for doneness, I sheepishly smiled at my family and told them to find something else to do for a few minutes. This chicken was raw.

Back in the skillet and about twenty minutes later, we were done.

And, wow. This was some good chicken. Colonel Sanders or Pickin’ Chicken? It’s all the same to me. Down home southern fried chicken – finger lickin’ good!

fried chicken

Speaking of finger lickin’ good, when I went on the KFC’s website to look at their history, I found out that the pressure cooker was introduced in 1939 and that Colonel Sanders used to fry his chicken using one to give his customers fresh chicken, faster.

Maybe I should try that next time – but how would that even work? A pressure cooker with oil? Oh, no, I feel a nightmare about chefs without arms coming on.

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