David Theiss: Grandma-inspired fried chicken (recipe)

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The other day I was looking at a picture my youngest daughter had given me for Father’s Day – a picture of her wedding. The family posing in a group picture all dressed in our wedding clothes with the bride and groom standing in the forefront; what a great picture and what a great day!

It occurred to me, how frozen in time we were. I was on the hunt for inspiration for my next article and thought about other tangible things in our lives that are frozen in time. This made me think of my grandmother and how her recipes were also frozen in time.

I never really paid much attention to her recipe collection, so I asked my mom if she had her mother’s recipes and yes, she had some. She told me to fetch a box in her pantry where I found an old wooden box packed with handwritten recipes; a collection of my mothers and my grandmother’s recipes with generations of funny named dishes like: Shaky Beef, Wacky Chocolate Cake, Festive Nuts, Penny Buns, or my favorite Chunky Salad.

My mother and I got to talking, and I asked what one of her favorite meals was that her mother made? Something she thought was really delicious, she immediately said she loved her mother’s fried chicken. She remembers it being made from spring chickens – battered and fried in butter. She said her family loved it for all their outings. She remembers a trip her family took in the 1940s to Boulder Dam.

They followed Route 66 across the country from Minnesota to Nevada, having to take two cars. Lunch consisted of stopping along the way, her mother getting food out and setting it up for all to eat and she always brought fried chicken. What incredible planning that had to be done.

They were gone for two weeks, and everyday lunches and dinners were carried with them and cooked in motels at night for the next day for eight to nine people. Call me spoiled when we can pull over just about anywhere and get food most any time of the day, but that fried chicken was loved by all and much more special than a fast-food meal.

I hope you enjoy it. I used my grandmother’s inspiration on this recipe for chicken-fried chicken with a little bit of my flare. Thanks grandma.


4 pieces of boneless chicken breast (3/8 inches to 1⁄2-inch-thick pieces are best). Pound out the chicken breast until you get the thickness you want with a kitchen mallet.

1 cup pancake batter mix

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups frying oil (vegetable, corn, etc.)

2 tablespoons butter

Chicken gravy mix


In one bowl crack your eggs and beat. In another bowl, place your pancake batter mix, salt, pepper, and baking powder and mix well. In a third bowl fill with your panko breadcrumbs.

Take your pounded chicken and submerge first in the egg, then into the batter mix, then into the panko crumbs. Make sure to coat each layer generously before the next.

Add oil and butter to a high sided pan and heat. When the oil is hot enough (about 350 degrees) fry the coated chicken, two at a time, until golden brown on both sides, approximately 3 to 4 minutes per side. The internal temperature of the chicken should read 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer when finished.

Transfer the cooked chicken to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Keep warm in the oven at 200 degrees while you cook the rest of the batch.

Make your favorite gravy. I choose to buy a gravy mix. It is easier and usually has less fat in it. Just follow those simple instructions. Add some mashed potatoes and green beans and spoon the gravy over the top of the chicken. And dinner is served. Enjoy!

David Theiss is owner of Butler Gourmet Meats in Carson City.


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