My mother didn’t cook much, but she was a good cook who really cared how her dishes turned out. She was particularly fussy about her chicken. When I was a very little girl, mom would buy chicken from the meat man in the back of Nelson’s department store. The chicken came whole and was wrapped in white butcher paper.
She usually cut up the chicken she bought and baked the pieces. I have vivid memories of her holding each piece over an open flame on the gas stove to remove any possible remaining pin feathers that were missed when the chicken was processed. There usually weren’t any such feathers, but it was something she had learned growing up on the farm, and she always did it.
Husband and I like to get big roasting chickens, but they have been hard to come by lately. In desperation the other week we took a chance and bought a “Southern Hen” in Walmart. It was indeed from the deep South in Alabama. It was the right size (about 9 pounds), and we decided to cook it whole in the slow cooker.
The roasters we usually buy are nicely processed and have clean skins with no pin feathers. I would have needed a blow torch to remove the feathers and quills from our Southern Hen. I tried a lighter to no avail, and ended up laboriously removing it all with a needle nosed pliers. My mother would have been appalled. I guess they have different standards in chicken processing in the South.
The meat was tasty, but I made sure every bit of skin was removed and discarded once the chicken was thoroughly cooked. Husband has indicated that it might be nice to keep a few chickens in our retirement. Our experience with our Southern Hen makes me think otherwise.
What do you remember about family food ways from your childhood?