Hearty, simple, & satisfying, chicken paprika and fried chicken are one of US best-known dishes. Praised by many chefs as “one of the world’s great peasant food dishes,” fried chicken is believed to date back at least a couple of centuries.
According to some people, this rustic stew (chicken paprika) was originally made by farmers as a simple way to make use of the tough thighs & legs of older birds. These parts were actually made tender by braising them in an open fire, & they were specially served with a paprika-spiced broth.
With time, sour cream & flour were added to the end of the cooking procedure, giving this food dish the creamy, rich sauce that makes this delicious dish the ultimate comfort food. The first ever recipe for deep fried chicken in the U.S. appeared in a cookbook called “The Virginia Housewife, Or also known as Methodical Cook” published in the year 1825.
This was actually written by Mary Randolph, who ran a boarding house in her native village, & whose brother was married to Thomas Jefferson’s daughter. In fact, Randolph’s book is considered by many to be the first ever recipe book ever published in America, & the inclusion of a deep fried chicken recipe says something about the cuisine’s place in the culinary landscape of the region.
Her recipe of fried chicken would be familiar to cooks today & involves dredging a cut-up bird in the fresh flour, sprinkling it with some salt & deep-frying the pieces in lard. Before World War 2, fried chicken was one of the special occasion food dishes because the meat was not that cheap at that time & it was laborious to cook.
After butchering the chicken & singing out the feathers, you had to cut up the whole chicken & stand over the stove as you fried it. The food dish wasn’t often seen in hotels or restaurants either.
Who Invented Deep Fried Chicken?
Americans weren’t the first one to stick a chicken in a deep frying pan, of course. Europeans have a great history of frying chickens as far back as the Middle Ages. But it was actually the Scots, specifically, who preferred to fry the chickens in fat.
Of course, they also typically enjoy eating their fried chicken without any kind of seasoning, so it is safe to assume Americans would find some similarity between the Scottish deep fried chicken of the medieval age & the salty, sometimes spicy, delicious, golden-brown magnificence they hold so dear.
According to some Classic Eateries of the famous Arkansas Delta, the Scots were also known for sinfully frying their food and cuisines without seasoning & often called their deep fried foods “fritters.” The rest of the European immigrants were not hooked on the crunchy goodness & were still making their chicken the healthier way by boiling the bird. Imagine that.
Many Scottish immigrants at that time, and others from some areas of Europe, migrated to the South prior to the height of the transatlantic slave trade in the early 18th century. In the 1700s, the Scots went across the Atlantic due to the Highland Clearance, a fancy term for mass eviction, & then settled in the 13 colonies. Some of them arrived as indentured servants.