National Fried Chicken Day

National Fried Chicken Day

That would be today, July 6th.

You know those parlor games when people ask you “if you knew it would be your last dinner what meal would you want?”

My answer is “My Mom’s fried chicken, if she were here to make it.” (Plus her apple pie.)

But she isn’t. A little while ago I wrote about what made her version so special (you can find it here, with the recipe). Basically, it was the simple coating and the frying fat — she used melted vegetable shortening, which is so-so unhealthy but really-really terrific when it’s dark golden brown, juicy fried chicken you want. 

So, rather than post her recipe again, I’m giving one for Biscuits because there is no better bread accompaniment for fried chicken.

Of course these are perfect for breakfast too. Eat them plain (okay, maybe some soft, fresh, sweet butter! Or strawberry jam!!). Or stuff them with a fried egg or cheese. Or both.


1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon rind, optional

8 tablespoons cold butter

2/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Sift the flour, cake flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a bowl. Stir in the lemon rind, if used. Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the bowl. Work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour in the buttermilk and mix until you can form a soft ball of dough. Try not to pound or overwork the dough (this makes the biscuits tough). Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead 4-5 times. Roll or press the dough gently to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out circles with a doughnut cutter or the top of a glass. Place the circles one inch apart (for darker biscuits) or close together (for fluffier biscuits) on the cookie sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes or until they have risen and are lightly browned. Makes 8-10

Mom's Fried Chicken


I work out twice a week with a trainer whose name is Robbie and usually as I am grunting and sweating and trying to do pushups and mountain climbers and crunches and generally trying to work off the calories, what do we talk about?


We spend endless amounts of time talking about what we like to eat, what we ate, what we will eat.

We ask about what we’ll be cooking that night. Or on the coming weekend. Or for someone’s birthday or Mother’s Day or what have you.

So the other day we got to talking about Judgement Day. You hear it on some radio stations and there are signs on the highway that Judgement Day is coming on May 21st.

Naturally this seemed like the perfect opportunity to talk about what we would eat if it were our last day on earth.

Wow, getting it down to one thing is too difficult, so we decided it would be a whole meal, plus maybe a cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvre and also dessert. We even talked about what alcoholic beverage we would choose and whether we would close it all out with a cigarette, or something.

The only thing we both picked were franks-in-blankets. Which is good, I have a box of them in my freezer.

But we spent an hour on this topic and I started thinking that if I could have anything, it would be my mother’s fried chicken, made the way she made it. Only she isn’t here to make it, which is maybe why I miss it so much.

What made her fried chicken so special is the simple coating, just seasoned flour, and the cooking fat: vegetable shortening. Yep, that awful stuff that clogs your arteries. But hey, if it’s the last day on earth, what’s the difference? 

One other thing my mother did to make her fried chicken taste so good — after she coated the pieces with flour, she let them air dry for a while. That way the coating sticks and doesn’t fall off in the pan.

The result? Crispy, dark golden brown, juicy, sumptuous chicken.

She made this dish often and I sometimes long for it. I don’t remember when I last cooked it, but it’s time now.

My mother used a whole chicken but I am going to cook only the wings. If it’s Judgement Day why bother with the meat? It’s really the skin and fried outside I like. And there’s that fabulous little bit of meat in that center wing part. My mother always gave that part to me and told me it was the softest, sweetest part of the chicken.

She was right.

Good memories. Good chicken. Here’s the recipe. You can use vegetable oil instead of shortening.

Mom’s Fried Chicken

  • 12 chicken wings, cut into pieces
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • shortening or vegetable oil

Rinse the chicken pieces and set them aside. In a large dish, mix the flour with the paprika, salt, garlic powder and black pepper. Coat the chicken pieces with the seasoned flour. Place them on a cake rack to air dry for 25-30 minutes. Heat the shortening or vegetable oil in a deep saute pan over medium-high heat (should be about 1/2-inch) to 365 degrees (a bread crumb will sizzle quickly when you add it to the pan). Add a few chicken pieces at a time (adding too many will make the cooking oil too cool) and cook, turning the pieces occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Makes 12