What's Cooking? The Marczyks' fried chicken and potato salad

Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with the big, new kitchen. They usually bring a selection of some of their market's choicest ingredients home with them, and cook up a feast fit for kings ... or at least patrons of Marczyk.

Every week, we'll be sharing their recipes on the Cafe Society blog. And this week, a threefer that's perfect for July 4th: Fried chicken two ways, and Pete's Mom's Potato Salad, a Marczyk market favorite. See the recipes and photos below, and video of Pete making the fried chicken above. (Photos and video by Alexis Johnson)

Pete's Mom's potato salad Think of this as New England church-supper potato salad.

5 lb russet potatoes, peeled, halved, and gently boiled. It's ok if they are different sizes, you want some pretty soft and others just barely soft. ½ C lb celery, diced ½ C red onion, diced (not too small) 2 green onions, diced. Include the green part. 4 hard boiled eggs, cooled and coarsely chopped 1 C lb mayonnaise 2 T Dijon mustard 1/8th C white vinegar (don't get fancy here!) Salt and pepper, plenty of it

Peel, rinse and boil the potatoes Drain and cool Mix celery, onions, eggs, mayo, mustard, S & P in a big bowl. Add room-temp potatoes and mix gently but thoroughly (you don't want to turn it to mush). It's best if it can sit for a day.

Classic southern-style fried chicken You can't skimp on the quality of the oil or the chicken in this recipe.

In a grocery paper bag combine: 1-2 C all-purpose flour ¼ C sweet paprika (or Old Bay for more flavor) 1 T fine grained salt 1 T freshly ground black pepper. The woman who taught me to make this (one of our favorite customers) told me that you can't over-pepper the chicken, so be more generous if you like. She also told me that her grandmother made this very recipe with lard; I have tried that with excellent results, but most people would not attempt such a thing. So I've shown the veg-oil version. If you do want to use lard (and I think it's a great idea), try the Niman leaf lard. It's pure.

For the frying: I use a heavy bottomed Le Cruset braising pan for frying. I put about 1" of fresh neutral oil in the pan and heat it to 350º on a deep-fat or candy thermometer. The oil should come about halfway up the chicken. I use grapeseed oil because it has a wicked high smoke-point, it is almost totally neutral, and it is from a food crop rather than an oil crop -- so the regulations as to how much and which pesticides may be used are stricter.

Cut the chicken into quarters or eighths -- the more cut surfaces you have, the more breading you get to enjoy. Put the chicken parts into the bag so that they are not too crowded, roll the top down to seal it, and shake vigorously. Let sit for a couple minutes and then repeat. When you are convinced that every possible surface of the chicken is lightly coated, gently slip into the 350 degree oil. Do not crowd! Do this in batches if necessary.

This method will take about 15 minutes per batch. The chicken should be a beautiful dark brown, and the juices should run clear when you are done. If you are doing legs and breast and you need to do two batches, with the legs in one and the breast in the other. They cook at different rates; the legs will take slightly longer.

Drain on an old copy of Westword. Serve hot, room-temp, or cold. This is a great recipe to make a little extra of, so you have it around for a couple days to enjoy as a snack.

Bring your clean used oil in a leak-proof container to MFF, and I'll burn it in my mid-life crisis.

Marczyk Family Picnic Chicken Simple! Delicious!

Marinate a quartered or eighted chicken overnight (or for a few hours) in simple Italian dressing. You can make your own; I use Newman's.

Drain the chicken but don't pat it dry

Mix Italian seasoned bread crumbs (or plain ones that you add Italian herbs to) and Grana Padano (or other non-green-cylinder) parmesan cheese 50-50. This is your breading. Pat breading onto chicken liberally and place in oven on a non-stick cooking vessel (cheese sticks to everything!). Cook 30-45 minutes until breading turns golden brown and juices run clear. If you use non-stick you can turn the chicken once during cooking, if you don't -- don't.

Cook good, eat well.

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Joe Tone
Contact: Joe Tone