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That Old Time Division

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Ahab, Dec 10, 2010.

  1. Ahab

    Ahab Songster

    Jun 28, 2010
    Can anyone--probably ancient, probably Southern--remember how chickens used to be cut up 60 years ago, with the pulley bone as a separate piece, and the breast divided into something my grandmother affectionately called "fenders" and my modern mother dismissed as a culinary relic?

    Years of the usual divisions--two breast halves, two legs, two thighs, two back halves--have clouded my memory. That, and having accumulated too many things to remember.

    So I can't quite picture fenders. Note that these weren't Tenders. Fenders, I remember, had bones. But I didn't rank high enough on the Sunday-dinner pecking order to rate them very often. They were, I think, a Preacher's Piece.

  2. eKo_birdies

    eKo_birdies Songster

    May 11, 2010
    Northern Colorado
    Wow, I'm really interested in this!! I'm neither old nor Southern, so I really hope someone who fits the description can give some insight.

    All I've ever seen is the "standard" pieces you mention, 2 breast halves, 2 thighs, etc.
  3. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

    Aug 13, 2007
    North/Central Florida
  4. Ahab

    Ahab Songster

    Jun 28, 2010
    Oh dear: "Fried chicken is the new pork belly." I do so hate it when something I've obsessed over my whole life becomes trendy.

    Thanks for the link--very interesting. But the way Keller cuts a chicken is very cheffy, and not at all the way old East Tennessee farmwives cut them. They'd never remove the backbone, for instance. That's what the kids eat! And he partly bones and then quarters the breast; fenders were parts of the breast with the rib bones in them, and the pulley bone was a separate piece, with decent meat (and a wish fulfillment process after eating it), not something to toss into the stockpot.

    As the article says, everyone's fried chicken is different, and as everyone else who eats fried chicken has said for as long as there's been fried chicken, "my grandmother's was the best." But I tried Keller's fried-chicken recipe a few years ago and was underwhelmed. He brines, and while I used to, during my Alice Waters phase, I went back to my great-grandmother's dry-salting-and-seasoning method and found it produced better results, especially in skin consistency (Cooks Illustrated and the New York Times figured this out, too, though they were talking about roasting birds). I also found Keller's crust too thick--I find most buttermilk crusts and all egg-based crusts too thick. But his seasoning mix was pretty good--though I'd use way more paprika and way less garlic- and onion-powder.

    To reverse and pervert the opening of Anna Karenina, "Bad fried chicken is all alike. Each recipe for good fried chicken is good in its own way."
  5. Tiffrz-N-Kidz

    Tiffrz-N-Kidz Songster

    Jul 29, 2010
    Aledo, TX
    I remember Mom teaching me how to cut up a chicken and the WishBone was a separate piece.


    Picture G shows where to cut.

    eta: The 'fenders were probably the pointy part of the remaining breast cut in half. The breast was basically split into 3 parts. The back part with the wishbone and the front part split into 2 triangles. I remember having to use a big honkin' knife and a LOT of force to split that part.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2010
  6. CDennis

    CDennis Songster

    Apr 1, 2009
    I know what you are talking about but I always got the backbone when visiting Grandma's place. I'll put in a call to my great aunt in middle TN I know she will remember now if she can explain over the phone that will be another story. I'll keep you posted. -Cortney
  7. Ahab

    Ahab Songster

    Jun 28, 2010
    That might just be it. The aft half of the breast, cut athwartships between leg socket and wing socket then fore-and-aft along the keel, sure does look like a pair of automobile fenders in Figure G--assuming, of course, the automobile is pre-1940. Which would have been just about right to have entered the local vernacular: the days before streamlining. Though it's odd that aerodynamics should have changed fashions in chicken-cutting, too.

    Must go and rustle up a chicken and do some anatomical research to see if it triggers a memory. As the youngest and thus least significant child, I only saw fenders when The Quality plucked them from the platter. By the time it reached me, there were but backs and necks. Even today, when I eat a chicken breast I feel like I'm gettin' above my raisin'.

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