Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chicken Fried

The image of a greasy Colonel Sanders bucket has become somewhat synonymous with fried chicken. My Mom never brought home a 12-piece meal from the Kentucky Fried Chicken drive-through, but I grew up dreaming about down-home southern picnics where children and parents sprawled around a checkered blanket, biting mouthfuls of juicy white meat right off the bone, golden flecks of crispy skin collecting on their cheeks as they polished off the last wings and thighs.

I know it must seem like an odd fascination, but the idea of eating fried chicken seemed to embody the essence of a true family affair - the ones when your aunts, uncles and second cousins twice removed would all come out for a Sunday evening supper, catching up on each other's lives around tables covered with plates of fried chicken.

My parents weren't overly obsessed with eating healthfully, but friend chicken was never on the radar when thinking of a nutritious dinner option. But while it might not be "healthy," I couldn't help but wonder if this southern dish was more than just a comforting, calorie filled concoction. If there were thousands of families happily laughing over buckets of friend chicken, maybe it was a viable option for an "emotionally healthy" meal.

After years of this curiosity just sitting under the surface, my roommate and I finally decided to test our age old question and see for ourselves if fried chicken is all that it's cracked up to be.

Our homemade version didn't look like the breaded chicken pieces you see in the KFC commercials, but, our panko covered chicken breasts, pan fried in olive oil, seemed like a honest modern-attempt by two 21-year-olds.

Slightly anxious about our new creation, we sliced into the tender breasts and let our taste buds read the final verdict. Surely enough, the hot, salty juices sang to our heartstrings. Before long, we were telling stories and cracking jokes between bites of friend chicken. We weren't concerned about calories and the words "fat" or "sodium" never breached our conversation.

So my fried chicken curiosity wasn't all nonsense. Making and eating our own version of fried chicken was a true bonding experience. We ventured into a the unknown world of fried chicken and came out with our stomachs satisfied and spirits lifted.

It turns out that a little bit of chicken fried can mean a whole lot of joy around the family table.

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