SAVEUR Selects: Heritage Chicken

Fried chicken
Fried chickenJames Oseland

Recently, Rand Morrison, the executive editor at CBS's Sunday Morning, along with his colleagues Edward Forgotson, Judy Hole, and Robin Sanders, were scheduled to drop by the SAVEUR offices for lunch. The weather that day was grim, and our editor-in-chief, James Oseland, wanted the lunch to be one that would do what SAVEUR does best: comfort people through food. The menu included a velvety macaroni and cheese by Edna Lewis, a simple arugula salad with a honey and apple cider vinaigrette, and fried chicken prepared from my family's recipe: marinated in buttermilk, with copious amounts of Worcestershire and hot sauce. For a lunch this important, the chicken had to be of the highest quality. Having once had a New Hampshire chicken, I knew it was the right pick.

The Good Shepherd Ranch in Tampa, Kansas, breeds the New Hampshire chicken, a descendant of the Rhode Island Red. NH chickens are plump and larger than the typical broilers and fryers, with a broad breast and rich dark meat. They're perfect for roasting whole or, as I intended, cutting up for the deep fryer. While other chickens tend to dry out in the 25 minutes or so needed to cook the meat through in the oil, the NH stays moist and plump. You'll see none of the shrinkage from excess water loss that you find in mass-produced, brine-injected supermarket birds. Of course, when I served our guests the platter of dark, crunchy chicken pieces, it didn't matter what I thought of the NH's heritage and flavor—only what the guests thought of the taste. Their full-mouthed sighs of delight were all the evidence I needed to affirm my belief in these flavorful birds. —Ben Mims, Assistant Kitchen Director