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Column: Fried Chicken and Fighting Neighbors

As much as I enjoy cooking, there are a few dishes that I don't feel comfortable making.

It's usually either because it's too messy, takes far too long, or is a bit complicated for culinary aptitude.

While fried chicken has always been one of my favorite things to eat, I've probably only made it two or three times because I usually end up splashing my face with oil and making a mess that takes a complete shift of work to clean up. After getting super sick once after an old roommate made fried chicken, I'm also worried about undercooking it. It was one of those situations where I was on the throne with a trash can in my lap, something I would never want to do to someone I liked.

And, of course, there is always overcooking it, which is just awful with a bird.

Recently, on Mother's Day, Melissa received a waffle iron to replace the one that quit working one day. Wanting to incorporate the new appliance into a special meal for her, I decided to attempt to make her chicken and waffles.

I can remember being on vacation and not quite comprehending the idea of the dish as we passed a chicken and waffles restaurant while driving in Southern California. I wish I hadn't been so reluctant because a few years later when I first tried it, I could not believe how fantastic the combination of savory and sweet was.

As I was shopping, I thought I would be in big trouble if I messed this dish up because it was far too late to get a Mother's Day reservation.

I don't watch as many cooking shows as I used to, but I still view enough to know that many people like to soak their chicken for a few hours in buttermilk, so I decided to give it a shot.

I added Sriracha, onion powder, salt, pepper, and paprika to the buttermilk and placed the "skin on thighs" in a bath for five hours.

While waiting for the next step, I researched the best way to cook the chicken online. Still, I got frustrated because there were so many different opinions that I just wanted to throw my phone outside and make a recipe as I went along.

As I was meandering around the kitchen, I started to hear some loud music playing. I soon realized the people a few houses over had started to drink a little early on Mother's Day, and it would not end well.

I grabbed a couple of cups of flour and a small portion of corn starch, seasoned it with the same spices I used earlier, and added some ground mustard and cayenne. At this point, it was becoming an everything but the kitchen sink approach to the spices, but I didn't care.

I thought at one point of possibly trying to get 11 herbs and spices like KFC, but based on the last time I ate there, I didn't want to associate myself with Colonel Sanders. I remember being a kid, and my grandma Smith would call KFC "Country Fried Chicken," and I have great memories of it tasting amazing when I ate at the first location, which happened to be in Salt Lake City. It was a far cry from the cement I had the other day in my mashed potatoes cup.

Once I shook off the buttermilk from each thigh, I tossed it in the flour mixture.

I then decided to let it sit for about 20 to 30 minutes so the flour would stick better to it. Whenever I make chicken parmesan, I get so darn hungry that I throw the chicken right into the oil, and my bird ends up naked, which puts me in a foul mood.

We sat outside enjoying the beautiful day, which made me wonder why I was not grilling something. By this point, the noisy neighbors were in fine form. A few minutes earlier, I had witnessed the guy dancing nearly naked as a jaybird in the front yard, and now there was some crazy screaming going on about a window. It was so loud you could have heard it in Cut Bank.

The few times I've fried chicken, I've always cooked it in cast iron, but on Mother's Day, I set a deep fryer to 350 and cooked each piece individually for about five to six minutes. Then, I popped a meat probe into one piece and threw the chicken in the oven at 375.

At this point, I was about to make the waffles when Melissa reminded me that I had bought Brussels sprouts to accompany the dish. Although sprouts are one of my least favorite foods, it was Mother's Day, and Melissa likes them, so I decided to add them to the meal.

I'm not sure how one is supposed to cook them, so I just seasoned them, threw them in the deep fryer, and hoped for the best.

Melissa helped with the waffles and, after a few hiccups with the new appliance, she did a great job.

I asked the 17-year-old to cut up some fresh parsley I had asked her to buy at the store, but she forgot to get it. So, I topped the dish with dry parsley, which was different but still did the job.

I placed a piece of chicken and a bit of butter on each waffle. We then all topped our dish with some syrup and Sriracha.

It was an epic meal, and no one got sick. Unfortunately, one of the neighbors ended up in jail, but maybe that was a good thing because their nonsense was getting a little old.

After about the fortnight it took to finish the dishes, I felt a sense of accomplishment for making fried chicken, and this inspired me to try it again as soon as 2027.

 
 
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