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A Chicken in Every Pot

Submitted by: syrupandbiscuits on March 24, 2011
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A Chicken in Every Pot

This slogan is mostly associated with the 1928 presidential campaign of Herbert Hoover claiming that all would be prosperous under a Hoover administration. The ubiquitous chicken has a place in the history of all regional cultures in the U.S. I haven’t found any cuisine, except vegetarian, that doesn’t rely heavily …

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This slogan is mostly associated with the 1928 presidential campaign of Herbert Hoover claiming that all would be prosperous under a Hoover administration. The ubiquitous chicken has a place in the history of all regional cultures in the U.S. I haven’t found any cuisine, except vegetarian, that doesn’t rely heavily on chicken. Its versatility, accessibility and reasonable cost make it indispensable as a protein source. I read recently about the growing new “trend” of people raising chickens in their backyards. A growing new trend? The “trend” may be growing but there’s nothing new about it. I come from a long line of “raising chickens in your yard” kind of people.


Let me introduce you to my Great Aunt Mary Phillips who raised chickens, lots of chickens, in her backyard as long as she was physically able. She lived in the same little town as my grandparents. Her husband, Great Uncle Preston Phillips, went about the town to people he knew and asked if he could put up slop buckets to collect food scraps to feed his chickens. One of those buckets resided in the pecan tree just off the back porch of my grandparents’ house in the Cotton Mill Village. While my grandparents were frugal and didn’t believe in wasting food, small amounts of leftovers were sacrificed up for the chickens. Actually, it wasn’t a huge sacrifice because Granny would go over to Aunt Mary’s often to get chicken and eggs. As I grew older and tall enough to reach the slop bucket hanging in the tree, it became my job to take the food scraps from the kitchen to the slop bucket. As you can imagine, food spoils rather quickly in the heat of the deep south. The acrid smell of the bucket’s contents was a very distant second to the smell of the chicken yard itself. But, if you wanted chickens, that’s how you got them. The picture below is grainy and somewhat out of focus but it is an actual picture of Aunt Mary in the background chasing one of her chickens. Her parents, my great grandparents, are in the foreground.

janderesized

The fate of the chicken is unknown. She may have been chasing the chicken just because it got out of the pen and she wanted to put it back. She may have been chasing the chicken because it was dinner time….for her, not the chicken. This whole process probably seems distasteful to some, for we have gotten far away from the self-sufficiency of our ancestors. Raising chickens and gardening wasn’t a hobby. It was survival. Before there were grocery store chains, you would have to take a trip into town to shop. That required you to have money, transportation and time. “Going to town” wasn’t a quick 10 minute trip for people in rural areas. It could sometimes take the whole day. Rolling stores became popular in the rural south as a way of providing a means of trade to rural residents.

rollingstoreresizw

The rolling stores were stocked with pantry staples such as flour, coffee and sugar as well as hardware items such as hammers and nails for which you could pay cash or barter with goods in exchange for fresh produce or chickens. Some of the rolling stores built cages just to hold the chickens.

Roasted chicken is one of my favorite dishes with the wings being my preferred pieces. Considering the popularity of Buffalo chicken wings, I’m not alone. Depending on your geographic location, you either eat “wings” or “wangs”. Southern diction, oftentimes, recreates vowel sounds such as turning a short “i” sound, as in picture, to a long “a” sound, as in make. Wings become wangs, things become thangs and think becomes thank. While I try to be conscious of my diction and pronounce words as close to correct as my native tongue will allow, I embrace southern diction. I’ve heard it all my life and hope I continue to hear it until I take a dirt nap.

The origin of the popular Buffalo chicken wings is far north of the Mason-Dixon line. The recipe has been credited to a Buffalo, NY mother looking for an economical way to feed her son and his hungry friends. That’s one smart mama! But chicken itself has always been a staple in Southern homes.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the ever popular fried chicken. With the wangs being my favorite part of my roasted chicken, I decided to roast three pounds of chicken wangs using the same technique that I use to roast a whole chicken. I will be able to get my fill without roasting twenty chickens.

If you want traditional wing sauce, melt 1/2 cup butter and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup Tabasco sauce to get the degree of heat you like. Pour the sauce over the chicken as soon as the chicken is completely cooked. I prefer to eat mine plain just like I do when I take a whole roasted chicken out of the oven, stand there and eat the wangs before the bird is carved. I think I may fix myself a plate and sit down to enjoy these wangs. This was a good decision on my part.

How to make Oven Roasted Chicken Wings:

Start with a big tomato ware bowl.

tomatowarerescale

Okay, so it doesn’t have to be tomato ware bowl. But isn’t mine beautiful? I use it to mix up my dressing at Thanksgiving. My great-grandmother, in the picture above, had a bowl like this. Hers was smaller and she would keep fruit in it.

Wash and pat dry the chicken, coat with olive oil and sprinkle with 4:1:1 seasoning and dried Italian herbs. 4:1:1 seasoning is my blend of kosher salt, ground pepper and garlic powder in a 4:1:1 ratio.

resized

Prepare two baking sheets by covering in aluminum foil and spraying with cooking spray. Place chicken on baking sheets being careful not to crowd. You want to roast, not steam, the chicken.

resized2

Place in a preheated 400 degree oven and roast for 40 to 50 minutes. Turn chicken over after first side is browned. Continue the cooking until the second side is browned and the skin is nice and crispy. This skin gets so crispy and delicious. The combination of using olive oil plus raising the cooking temp to 400 degrees makes the skin cook to a degree of crispness that is unbelievable but the flesh remains juicy. Continuing on with the tomato ware theme, here’s the finished product.

resized3

The apron was given to me by my sister, Kathy Anderson, who gave me the job of Cookie for her son’s chuck wagon-themed wedding rehearsal dinner. My job was to bake biscuits and cobblers, ring the dinner bell, and keep food on the chuck wagon.



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Comments

14 comments | RSS feed for comments of this post

  1. 3-24
    8:02
    am

    I need me some wangs!

    I love all the different languages throughout the regions. It seems so strange that just a few hundred miles away, enunciation and words are different. I still have not lost my U.P. accent, though I’ve lived 300 miles south of there where people don’t sound like Canadians (no offense to any Canadians!) for more than 20 years.

    Thank you Jackie for your wonderful post 🙂

  2. 3-24
    8:43
    am

    I embrace my southern diction as well. Even thou mine is a unique blend of Alabama/Virgnia/SC, I love it 🙂

  3. 3-24
    8:48
    am

    Oh, forgot to tell you..Those “wangs” look scrumptious! I really enjoyed reading your post 🙂

  4. 3-24
    11:01
    am

    I had never heard of the traveling stores. Mom did say the only beef they ever had was bought from a man traveling by wagon with a tarp thrown over the beef and he would cut off a chunk for you. All Grandma ever did was boil it!

    The wings sound and look good.

    Even chicken isn’t very cheap these days.

  5. 3-24
    12:43
    pm

    Loved your post, and guess what? I have a big tomato bowl just like that!!! how old do you think they are?

  6. 3-24
    1:33
    pm

    Love this post, not so much for the chicken wing, which I adore, but for the “rollin store”. As a child I lived on an Army base in Alabama in base housing, people back then didnt have cars like they do now, so running to the store was not an option. We had the “rollin store” and it was a very big deal when it arrived. It had a lot of fresh goods. small household gooda as well as a container filled with ice and bottles of cold soda, what a treat when we got a bottle of soda split 3 ways. Such a fond memory, thank you so much.
    Joell

  7. 3-24
    4:52
    pm

    Love this post! I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and talking about chickens and chicken-eatin’ lately and I think I have made some of the very same statements that you made in your post. Funny how so many of today’s hobbies used to be basic life skills…makes you wonder what lies ahead, or maybe it will all just come full circle!
    About your Southern diction – it actually takes effort to keep it, doesn’t it? I won’t be losing my Texas drawl, though, and I’m training my kids to use theirs properly, too. :o)

  8. 3-24
    5:31
    pm

    Loved this post! We used to have sort of a rolling store, only it was several different people that would come to the farm at different times…the meat man, the fish man, the Raleigh man, the Fuller Brush man, etc.

  9. 3-24
    6:37
    pm

    The wangs look D-lish! Have never made them…hmmm, maybe I will now 🙂

    Had to laugh at the “long a”! When I was young, I colored a picture that included an orange, a carrot and probably a flower. Across the top I wrote “Orange Thangs”. I always thought it was funny that I spelled orange right 🙂 I was born in TN lived there till I was 7 or 8. I miss the southern twang!

    Thanks so much for sparking the memory 🙂

  10. 3-27
    12:44
    pm

    I was born and raised in the South, though my parents are both NYers. I love my Southern accent but as you can imagine, I catch a lot of flak from my family about it lol!

    Now I need to make me some of them wangs! Oh you know what I just wanted to ask: have you ever had/ heard of the Smoked Chicken Wings at Smokey Bones? My mother ordered them last time we went out and they were really tasty though I have no idea how they made them. Some kind of spice rub I guess?

  11. 3-31
    11:02
    pm

    @CindyP: I love all the regional accents and diction, too! I find it so interesting. Thank you for your comments.
    @Sonia: Speak Southern proud! I sure do. I hope you try the recipe. Thank you for your comments.
    @glenda: I’m glad I could introduce you to traveling stores. They were like rolling convenience stores. Thank you for reading and leaving me a comment.
    @marymac: Don’t you love those tomatoware
    patterns. I have forgotten how old they are. I have a book and I need to look them up again. I’ll let you know what I find out.
    @JOJO: Thank you for sharing your sweet memories. I’m so glad you read my post.
    @Kelly in TX: All things new are sometimes very old! I have lost a little bit of my accent just because I’m aware of how I pronounce my long “i”. I try to really make it an “i” and not some sound that I can’t even figure out how to write! 🙂
    @brookdale: thanks for reading the post and telling me about your rolling store.
    @Beverly: You made me laugh! Thank you for reading the post.
    @Lindsay: I’ve never had the smoked chicken “wangs” at Smokey Bones but I do like their smoked meats. I will have to check into it! Thanks for telling me about them.

  12. 4-1
    8:56
    pm

    I loved this post! It reminds me of my upbringing. My Dad was from Ark. and my Mom was from Okla. and I was born and raised in CA. I was never aware of having an accent, but kids in school sure like to tell me I did. One of my early memories of kids correcting me was when I asked if I could borrow a “mirro” they ribbed me for weeks I learned real quick to watch my words and say “mirror”
    I loved the picture of the traveling store. I’m following your blog, hope to hear more of your stories!
    Margaret

  13. 4-1
    9:29
    pm

    @Ewenique: Thank you for your very thoughtful comments. I remember calling a mirror a “mirro” myself! I love having you as a reader!! <3

  14. 4-6
    1:30
    am

    A trick I use when I oven “fry” foods it to put the food on a stainless-steel cooling rack (like you’d cool cakes and cookies on) and then put the rack on the prepared cookie sheet (well, actually it’s a jelly-roll pan – it has the lip on it). I do try to remember to spray the rack with cooking spray. Using this method, the food “fries” without sitting in it’s juices or in fats and I have found that I don’t need to turn it as it browns on all sides at once. I think it even cooks a little more quickly, but I’ve never actually timed it.

    Bacon cooked this way is great too.

    HTH

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