Friday, June 30, 2006

Chicken Livers and Okra

First I need to apologize: I forgot my camera at home so there is no pictoral to join this food post. :( But I'll do my best to impart a good picture of last night's feast of fried food.

I grabbed Palmer at his house and we head out for Mad Towne Chicken. I'd originally planned a really nutritious dinner at home, some fish, broccoli and carrots, and rice noodles with a ginger garlic teriayki sauce. But as we finalized our plans he said something about being in the mood for fried chicken, and it was quickly decided, we'd head to MadTowne Chicken and watch last week's Doctor Who while we ate.

The shop is a small storefront sandwiched in between a liquor store and a check cashing place. The fried stuff menu has stuff you might expect, chicken, catfish, fries, but they also offer up okra, chicken livers and gizzards too, and they have hot dogs, polish sausage, sandwiches and other delights. I had to have some fried okra and chicken livers, so we got an order of each. I ordered the small livers ($2.19) which came with fries. It was a pretty huge order. Together we couldn't finish it. Palmer got chicken and fries (comes with a soda, I picked out a Peach Faygo, just for the experience).

We took our fragrant, greasy, paper bags back to his house, singing songs of the dinner to come. Palmer sang a song about my not getting any fried okra, and his getting it all, to which I added some lovely parts about my setting his hair on fire, there by squelching his evil plans.

Our drive was well under ten minutes, but we both needed to taste a piece of okra and a french fry or two on the way. The okra was hot, really nicely done with a crispy batter. The fries are pretty standard fare, but provided a perfect foil for the other fried goodies.

We got home and fixed ourselves heaping plates of fries, chicken, livers and okra. A big puddle of Louisiana Habanero hotsauce and ketchup completed the dinner.

Yum! Although it might seem strange, a fried chicken liver is a wonderful taste sensation (I'm looking for a link to a foodie's post on fried foie gras, but cannot locate it at the moment). The crispy batter surrounds a really rich, creamy inside. They were rather dark in appearance, and at first I thought they'd been fried too long. As I ate I I decided that they just weren't very heavily battered. The liver itself wasn't greasy or overcooked, just perfect. The liver flavour was not overpowering (as with beef liver). But they are rich and to my mind best eaten as an appetizer or a side, not a meal.

The okra, as I mentioned, was hot and crispy. They were perfectly done, not mushy, and tasted fresh as opposed to over done. The lightness of the batter was nice too, so you mostly got okra instead of breading. The chicken was good. I have to admit I focused on everything else and so didn't eat any chicken until it was fairly cool. I think it would have been even better hot. The coating was crispy and not too salty. I picked those bones clean!

I stuffed myself, ate way too much hotsauce, and between the two of us we used up all the napkins we'd grabbed and a few paper towels. It was a great dinner. Not the kind of thing I could eat often, though.

The first time I had fried chicken livers was at The Praline Connection in New Orleans. They were delicious, served with gravy and grits. I was in heaven. I had them again a few years later at my grandmother's house in Alabama. My uncle cooked some up when he was frying chicken, and they were so good. I don't deep fry, myself, but if I did, chicken livers would be on the menu.

I've been thinking about making a southern breakfast like my grandmother used to. She'd make eggs with cheese, grits, and fry up patty sausage, red hot links (spicy sausage with bright red food colouring), bacon and baloney. This would be accompanied by a cup of coffee and a pile of toasted white bread with margarine and grape jelly (or her homemade pear preserves when she had them around). Like any good grandmother, she'd tell me to eat more, and would appear hurt if you only took one plateful of food.

I think if I could have a chance to go back to spend time with her, it would be a morning where she and I talked after breakfast, the weather channel on in the background and the ceiling fan pushing the hot air around the room that still smelled of breakfast cooking. Oh, and the part before that, when I actually got to eat.

Feeling nostalgic, missing Big Mamma (she died two and half years ago), and wishing I had plans to visit New Orleans again.

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