Alamo Fried Chicken’s batter was tops, or so believe longtime Coastians.
A Coast restaurateur recently asked if I had ever found Alamo’s chicken recipe. I told her that three former employees told me some of the ingredients but no exact amounts.
She asked if I would share these ingredients again. She wanted to experiment because she said it was the best.
In 2008, three employees Tal Nettles, Delmar P. Robinson and Leslie Quave reminisced about the restaurant and its famous chicken.
Some say original owner Jesse Smith took the chicken recipe to his grave. Smith, who opened the restaurant in the early 1950s, sold the restaurant to nephew J.D. Delamarre, when Smith’s health began to fail.
Quave worked at his brother’s Alamo Fried Chicken in Panama City, Florida, before the Korean War.
The whole chickens, all uniform 1 3/4 pounders, were shipped fresh from Gainesville, Georgia.
Manager Alton Nettles and cooks Robinson and Lavon Nettles cut the chickens into 14 pieces, discarding the necks, gizzards and livers. A whole fried chicken sold for $1.56 and a half for 75 cents. The luncheonette consisted of a half chicken, a cup of potato salad, roll and a chocolate covered mint and priced out at a whopping $1.07.
Quave, too, remembered how fresh the chickens were. They came in barrels packed in ice.
The famous batter of whey and egg came in powdered form and was shipped in 55-gallon cardboard drums. The cooks added salt and cold water to the powdered batter and rolled the chicken in flour as needed.
The piping hot chicken was battered and fried as needed, and it was fried in small deep fryers, which probably made the chicken taste so good.
“We fried the chicken in converted doughnut fryers,” Robinson said in a 2008 interview, “at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.
Nettles said the batter was mixed in Smith’s garage in Edgewater Park.
“As far as I know, only Mr. Smith knew what ingredients went into the batter,” he said.
Maybe today’s restaurateur can experiment and see what she can do.
More Crabmeat Au Gratin
While Angelo’s crabmeat au gratin recipe that Shirley Dedeaux wants is eluding me, I did find a good one from Mary Mahoney’s Old French House. This recipe that still is being served there was published in “Cooking on the Sound,” a special limited edition by the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra Guild in 1999. This cookbook was like the first one done in 1978.
Coastians and former residents always speak fondly of the old Frenchies, which was going strong in the 1970s. The original and the newer “Cooking on the Sound” have that old-time restaurant’s shrimp Mosca and Oysters Moran.
I thought I would share those two Coast favorites today.
READERS HELP NEEDED
“I would love to have the recipe for the Greek dressing at the Phoenicia in Ocean Springs,” Georgia Day said. “It is fabulous. Good on everything.”
“Could you get the original recipe of crabmeat au gratin from Angelo’s Restaurant,” Shirley Dedeaux said. “It was the best. Thanks.”
Ann Brown wants the shrimp salad recipe from the now-closed Hook Line and Sinker restaurant in Biloxi. Readers, if you have this old-time Biloxi recipe, please share.
FOODIES, MARK YOUR CALENDARS
Tickets, ranging from $55 to $80, are on sale for the Sept. 24 Chefs of the Coast Food and Wine Gala at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.
The event, from 6 to 8 p.m., features culinary creations of the Coast’s top restaurant and catering chefs, wine tasting, live music and a silent auction. VIP ticket holders get a special preview at 5 p.m.
In its 35th year, the gala is sponsored by the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Mississippi Hospitality & Restaurant Association.
CRABMEAT AU GRATIN
5 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken bouillon
1 egg, well beaten
2 tablespoons sherry wine
Dash of Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoons Lea & Perrins sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1 pound white lump crabmeat
Make a white sauce of butter, flour, milk, bouillon and egg. Remove from heat. Add wine, salt, pepper, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. Add crabmeat to white sauce. Can be put in 1 1/2-quart casserole or 6 individual ramekins. Sprinkle with cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly brown.
From Mary Mahoney’s Old French House, Biloxi, taken from “Cooking on the Sound”
2 pounds whole unpeeled shrimp (15 to 20 to pound)
6 buds garlic, peeled and cut in halves
2 whole bay leaves
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 ounce sauterne wine
2 ounces olive oil
Heat oil in frying pan. Add shrimp and spices. Sauté for 20 to 25 minutes. Add sauterne and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes longer. Serve with hot, crisp bread. Shrimp are to be peeled at the table and bread dunked into the sauce. Serves 4 or 5.
Frenchies Ocean Springs from “Cooking on the Sound”
4 dozen medium-size oysters
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
8 tablespoons butter
1 dash of oregano
1 dash of garlic salt
2 to 8 tablespoons bread crumbs
Place oysters in frying pan with their own juice. Cook and then pour off the water. Add lemon juice, wine, Swiss cheese, Parmesan cheese, green onions, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Place on fire until cheese is melted. Add butter. Stir until well mixed. Add bread crumbs to thicken sauce. Place in 4 casserole dishes. Top with paprika and sprig of parsley. Serves 4.
Frenchies Ocean Springs from “Cooking on the Sound”