Her name was Hattie May Presley… my great grandmother, she was from the south, Missouri to be exact (well some people call it Midwest, but she called it south). I never met a woman like her in my entire life. With a calm and proper demeanor, coupled with a heart of gold, she was such a precious little lady. She had a strawberry patch in her back yard, and use to make her own preserves. Enjoyed taking cucumbers to vinegar and making her own pickles as well. She spent the better part of her career as a cook for the nuns at St.Johns hospital in Santa Monica. She could take any scraps in the kitchen, turn it into the best thing your mouth ever tasted, and whip it up in flash no less. She was the type of woman that dressed her breakfast table with every proper serving dish. I remember when I was 5 or 6 years old being served a grapefruit sliced in half with a maraschino cherry in the middle along with my poached eggs, grilled ham and smothered potatoes. My great grandma Presley was crafty on many levels; she made me a closet full of dresses when I was first brought into the world, and continued until I was in the 3rd grade. We have the pictures to prove it. I had gone to spend some time with her when I was 12 or 13, and the hairdo I was sporting at the time didn’t sit well in her world… She gave me a long lecture on how to care for my hair, saying “Don’t wash your hair everyday young one. Don’t you know your washing the natural oils off your hair? Wash once a week if you want your hair to be healthy.” Then she proceeded to grab a brush and comb through my naturally super curly hair, all the while telling me she was making Shirley Temple curls. When I looked in the mirror my hair was a frizz ball rat’s nest. She was adorable for trying to reshape my wild hair into perfectly manicured curls, it just wasn’t happening. I look back on the many wonderful adventures spent at great grandma Presley’s house, learning to play croquet in her backyard, wandering around her kitchen peeking in the cabinets to see where she hid her magic, and eating the most wonderful meals my young life had ever known. She lived to be 95 years old, I was 18 years old at the time of her passing. I miss my great grandma Presley and wish someone in my family had a book of all her amazing recipes. Here is my version of a fried chicken po-boy I once devoured in her kitchen, I serve it in honor of great grandma Presley and all her southern charm.
Ingredients for Gravy:
1 1/2 – teaspoon corn starch
In a medium sauce pan, over a medium flame , add butter and chopped garlic and let saute for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring butter mixture the whole time. Then add mushrooms, green onion, and black pepper, and continue to saute for another 10 minutes. Then add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
While waiting for the butter mushroom broth to boil… In a separate cup, add cold water and corn starch. Mix until corn starch is completely dissolved. Then once the butter mushroom broth starts to boil, slowly pour in the corn starch water mixing the broth constantly…
It will start to thicken immediately. Then take off flame and set to the side. Now you have gravy!
Ingredients for fried chicken:
Pour coarse salt and cold water in a big bowl and let dissolve. Next add chicken breast and cover bowl with saran wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Remove chicken from bowl. Dispose of salt water. Place chicken back into the bowl and pour in buttermilk. Cover bowl with saran wrap and place back in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.
Remove chicken breast from buttermilk bath, and cut into 1 1/2 inch strips, then place on a wire rack to rid of excess buttermilk for about 7 minutes.
Meanwhile in a large paper bag add black pepper, Lawry’s seasoning salt, flour, dried basil, and corn starch. Close the top of the bag and shake it up to mix evenly.
Now take your sliced chicken strips (a few at a time) and add to the flour mixture. Close the top of the bag and shake it up to coat your chicken evenly.
Then place chicken strips back on the wire rack to sit and absorb flour mixture for 5 minutes.
Pour vegetable oil or lard in a big frying pan over a medium flame and allow to get hot for about 6 minutes. Then working in batches add your chicken strips to pan and fry on each side for 6 to 8 minutes, depending on thickness of the chicken.
Once browned and crispy, place on a paper towel lined plate to absorb some of the oil.
Now take a french roll, and slice across… fill with chicken strips and gravy!
Now that’s what I call eating right.
Great Grandma Presley at her home in Santa Monica.