WATERSHED FRIED CHICKEN + A QUILT

I first tasted the fried chicken at Watershed restaurant in Georgia about 10 years ago, while visiting friend and colleague, Angie Mosier. This was also my first meeting with Scott Peacock, the then head chef of Watershed who led them to a James Beard award in 2007.

Scott’s close friend and culinary mentor, Edna Lewis, is hands down the Mother of Soul food, a legendary figure and icon to the Southern culinary world—dare I say the world at-large. Together they wrote, The Gift of Southern Cooking: Recipes and Revelations from Two Great American Cooks, a staple in my kitchen.

Scott, a gifted food writer and storyteller, has since moved on and is working on a documentary in his home state of Alabama. Chef Joe Truex carries on the tradition of fine food and community spirit of the newly reopened restaurant.

When Watershed opened its doors at the new Atlanta location, I was approached by designer Smith Hanes to make one of our story quilts for the restaurant. And working with Smith, we thought their three-day recipe for fried chicken a good place to start.

Since my first visit to Watershed, I have tried to recreate the crispy, buttery perfection that is Scott and Edna’s famous fried chicken, but none has yet matched their simple and skillful dish. Certainly, their gift for Southern cooking – including their incredible fried chicken – is their legacy, their gift to all of us.  My Aunt Mag—long since passed away—had a similar recipe; these are the things of my childhood—and most southern childhoods.

Representative of much more than good chicken, the three-day recipe below shows the commitment to a dish, and the friendships formed over food and the table.

We know this quilt will be backdrop to many delicious meals at Watershed.

Congratulations to Watershed on your reopening!

Here’s the recipe, as embroidered on our quilt:

WATERSHED FRIED CHICKEN

Tender chicken pieces
Flour, salt and pepper
Country ham, butter and lard
Your favorite iron skillet

Day 1, soak the chicken in a salt water bath
Day 2, soak the chicken in a buttermilk bath
Day 3, very lightly dust the chicken with a mixture of flour, salt and pepper.
Fry until crisp in a hot bubbly brew of ham, butter and lard.

Enjoy with friends!!


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