We mostly talked about chicken and its emotional resonance (read the story by clicking here), but the coolest and most unexpected part of the interview for me was his insistence that I enjoy his Buttermilk Fried Chicken recipe with company, not by myself.
I owe what happened next to my friend Jaime. She’s fearless when it comes to hot grease (and many other things), and she decided, based on the interview, that we should fry chicken together using TK’s recipe for a Sunday Supper.
Here’s how it went down.
On Saturday, we planned the meal and picked up ingredients at the farmers market.
Then we prepared the brine, in which we left our chicken with fragrant lemons, a sliced head of garlic, bunches of thyme, parsley, bay leaves, and peppercorn….
I stopped by Woodland Wine Merchant, where Tyler told me he used to pick up fried chicken from a place called Phyllis’. He’d eat it on his front porch with a glass of rose. I could not trust his recommendation more.
Then, on Sunday, we finished the job.
Seasoning the flour with garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, paprika, s&p…
We made sides, too, like garlic mashed potatoes and collard greens with citrus raisin redux, and green beans with onion…
Cornbread and whiskey (which oughta be the name of a band …probably is)…
While dear Shannon poured us Whiskey-Lemonades…
Lastly, Jaime whipped up a ridiculous banana pudding topped with almonds, vanilla bean wafers and whipped cream…
A fried chicken Sunday Supper ain’t necessarily easy, we learned.
But it’s much easier than it used to be. While writing the Keller story, I called my dad, who remembers my grandmother killing chickens from the backyard with her bare hands. Hard to believe, in these days of shrink-wrapped grocery store chicken parts.
He also told a story about buying some chicks for a 4-H egg project when he was about 12 years old. But as the chicks grew into birds, he realized they were all roosters. There would be no egg laying.
"It looks like my 4-H project is over,” he told his mother casually.
The next day, he came home to the smell of chicken frying in her black skillet. And when he went to feed what had become pets, they were gone.
“Well, you said your project was over,” she told him.
He also told me that the only time he heard my grandfather (a strict Baptist preacher) say a “bad word” was when he accidentally smashed his finger with a hammer while putting the roof on a chicken coop.
My dad isn’t big on details. But this one he wanted known:
“He said ‘damn.’”
Watch this video of some gospel singing at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack.
And a few more songs about chicken that are -- on the flip side of all this -- less about “chicken” and more about, well, you know…
Chicken Grease – D’Angelo
Country Boyz - Nappy Roots (from Watermelon, Chicken and Grease)
Chicken - Mississippi John Hurt
Sister Big Bones - Anthony Hamilton
Fried Chicken - Nas
Southern Girl - Erykah Badu (I’m pretty sure she’s vegetarian, but I say this one still counts – esp. for the last few seconds of the song.)
Little Red Rooster – Sam Cooke (originally by Willie Dixon but also covered by The Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones, Big Mama Thornton, The Doors, and Jesus and Mary Chain, so take your pick)