Mama Sugar’s Southern Fried Chicken

In honor of you, Mary Alice... Southern Fried Chicken, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli & Sweet Tea.

In honor of you, Mary Alice… crispy Southern Fried Chicken, buttery garlic mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli with lemon, and sweet tea.

Years ago my dear southern cook extraordinaire mother-in-law, Mary Alice, typed out all her favorite recipes and assembled cookbooks for her family and dearest friends. She was a southern lady in the truest sense and had hostess skills on par with her cooking acumen. Her grandchildren lovingly called her, “Mama Sugar,” because she called everyone she loved, “Sugar,” and said it as she said everything else, in her lovely, distinctive Chattanooga, Tennessee dialect which she never lost despite living most of her adult life elsewhere.

When my husband and sons request fried chicken there is only one place I go for the recipe. Mama Sugar’s cookbook. She recorded several versions, but this is her classic which she soaked in buttermilk all day.

Mama Sugar’s Southern Fried Chicken

  1. Cut spring fryer (about 3 pounds) into serving pieces
  2. Cover with buttermilk and refrigerate for several hours to tenderize
  3. Drain and dredge in mixture of flour, salt,  pepper, and a bit of garlic salt
  4. Fry in Crisco shortening until brown on both sides
  5. Move to covered baking dish OR, for crispy-style, place on a cookie sheet
  6. Bake at 350°F degrees until tender (45-60 min.)

My guys like the crispy style for the crunch, in which case I go a little heavier on the salt for a salty-crunchy combo. However, those who love their meat particularly moist and tender may want to try the covered version. The frying and the lid both lock in moisture -just don’t over bake. Rule of thumb for doneness is 160°F white meat/165°F dark meat. Mary Alice usually baked her fried chicken covered. I love it both ways and let my mood or my guys dictate which way we go.

Food for Thought

“In the childhood memories of every good cook, there’s a large kitchen, a warm stove, a simmering pot, and a mom.”

Barbara Costikyan, Food Critic, New York Magazine

Menu Monday is a blog series dedicated to great food and menu planning.

Autumn Chicken Chili Verde

Chicken Chili Verde


Chicken Chili Verde is a savory pot of goodness that doesn’t have to simmer or slow-cook all day to reach it’s flavorful perfection making it a good fit for just about any day on your calendar. That being said, you can do a long simmer or slow-cook if you’d like your kitchen to smell good all day and/or need dinner to be ready when you return from a busy day out. Be sure to have a little extra broth on hand if you go that route as the chili may thicken too much due to evaporation.

  • Makes 10-12 hearty-size bowls
  • Freezes well

 This is a personal recipe I recently threw together in our kitchen and you should be aware that I’m not really one to measure ingredients; however, I am quite certain I used more than the amounts noted for the spices. Families with preferences more towards a mild flavor are safe to go with the noted amounts as this is a large batch of chili and the flavors have to stretch pretty far.

Carrots are not traditionally found in chili, but I had some and thought they would add nutritional value. I was out of celery when I made this, but will throw some in for extra fiber in the future.

For an autumn twist, substitute the carrots for a couple cups of peeled and ‘finely’ chopped pumpkin, butternut or acorn squash, parsnips, or rutabaga. Skip the turnips though. As much as I love them, they’re too pungent for this chili.


  • Olive oil, cover bottom of pan
  • 5-6 Chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Vidalia onions, finely chopped
  • 3-4 carrots, finely chopped
  • 4 tsp cumin, more to taste
  • 2 tsp chili pepper, more to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 TB flour
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz) chicken broth
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 cans 4 oz. chopped green chiles, drained
  • 2 cans (15.8 oz) Great White, Northern, or Canneloni beans, drained and rinsed


  • Shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa
  • Fresh cilantro leaves

*Toppings are optional, but I highly recommend them as they enhance the flavor and texture of the chili.

On the Side:

Serve with warm flour tortillas, heating a couple per person.

At our home, we use the stovetop method and place them directly into a tortilla warmer. Tortilla warmers are wonderful to have, but if you do not own one another type of covered dish will be fine.


  1. In large pot, add enough olive oil to cover coat bottom of pan.
  2. Add diced chicken, garlic, onions, carrots, and spices. Cook over medium heat for several minutes until chicken is almost cooked through.
  3. If there is sufficient juice from chicken, add flour a couple tablespoons at a time mixing in with each addition. If there is not much juice from cooking chicken, add some broth.
  4. Keep stirring over medium heat until sauce begins to thicken.
  5. Once fairly thickened, add remaining broth, diced tomatoes with juice, and green chilies mixing with each addition. Once bubbly again, turn down to simmer for 15-20 minutes until flavors begin to develop.
  6. Taste to see if additional spices are needed. Add drained/rinsed canned beans and gently mix in and let simmer until heated through, approximately 5-10 minutes.
  7. Place a folded paper towel into your tortilla holder before you add the first one, so they do not stick to the bottom of the warmer.
  8. Warm tortillas one at a time placing them in tortilla warmer with lid as you go.
  9. Scoop into serving bowls and top as desired with shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, and/or fresh cilantro leaves.
  10. Tortillas cool quickly, so place filled tortilla warmer on table and pass as people need more.

Food for Thought

“Al hambre de siete días, no hay pan duro.”

To a week’s hunger, there is no such thing as hard bread.

Menu Monday is a blog series dedicated to great food and menu planning.