Buttermilk Chicken
A Note from Diane C. McPhail: Big Mama’s readjusted recipe. Chicken plays a critical role in Emily’s story in The Abolitionist’s Daughter. I doubt she had time to make it quite this way, but she did love buttermilk. My Big Mama could fry chicken! In fact, she could do almost anything and did. Her recipe called for those basic ingredients in the first section below. I have added some of my own favorite seasonings in the second section.
  • Whole chicken, cut up
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic salt
  • Paprika
  • Buttermilk
  • Plain flour
  • Oil
  • My additions:
  • • Mixed seasoning salt
  • • Dried rosemary
  • • Willie’s Hog Dust seasoning
  1. Cut the chicken into regular pieces. The tips of the wings can be removed to make little drumsticks. It is helpful to cut each breast in half, as it makes for a more manageable size that will cook more evenly with the other pieces.
  2. Sprinkle pieces with all spices and toss evenly. My mama did this in a paper bag. She also did not measure spices. It was “a pinch of this and smidge of that.” Suit yourself!
  3. In a large bowl, pour buttermilk (Big Mama churned her own) over the chicken and turn the pieces to make sure each one is thoroughly covered.
  4. Let sit refrigerated (Big Mama had on old-time icebox) for 4 to 6 hours or overnight.
  5. Again in paper bag (do you even have one?), mix generous amount of regular flour with another smidge and pinch of the spices as desired. Shake each piece in the flour until coated and set aside.
  6. You can choose how you fry the chicken. In a large skillet with about an inch and a half of oil, turning the chicken as it cooks, or with deep oil in a pot large and deep enough to hold all the pieces submerged. Either method, cooking time will be about 20 to 25 minutes.
  7. Remove to drain and cool about 5 minutes. Call your crew to the table. Be prepared for rapid disappearance of the chicken and requests for how soon you can fix this again!!
Recipe by Southern Lady Magazine at https://www.southernladymagazine.com/bookclub/book-selections/the-abolitionists-daughter/recipe/