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Loretta Lynn's Biography and Crispy Fried Chicken RecipeCompiled by Vicki McClure Davidson
Dynamic, sassy American country music singer-songwriter Loretta Lynn was one of country music's top vocalists and songwriters during the 1960s and 1970s and is still revered the world over as a country music icon. She dominated the country music charts during the 1960s and 1970s, racking up more than 70 hits as a solo artist and a duet partner. Songs that hit the top slot on the charts include "Don't Come Home A' Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)," "Fist City," "Woman of the World (Leave My World Alone)," Coal Miner's Daughter" (also the title of her award-winning biographical film starring Sissy Spacek), "Rated X," "Trouble in Paradise," "Somebody, Somewhere," "Love Is the Foundation," and "Out of My Head and Back in My Bed." Many of her songs were controversial, hitting on sensitive women's issues, and some were banned from radio broadcast.
Born Loretta Webb, she was the second of eight children. Her baby sister is country singer Crystal Gayle. She was the daughter of a coal miner and her childhood was spent in abject poverty. As a result, it influenced her music in later years. Loretta married only once—48 years to husband Oliver "Doolittle" Lynn (he was also called "Doo" and "Mooney"). They married in 1948 in her home state of Kentucky, a few months before Loretta turned 14. She gave birth to four children before she was age 18, and then had twin daughters in 1963. She became a first-time grandmother when she was the ripe-old age of 29.
Her marriage to Doo, for the most part, was rocky, and she considered leaving Doo several times because of his drinking and unfaithfulness. In her 2002 autobiography, Still Woman Enough: A Memoir, she shared many of her heartaches during the marriage: Doo left her when she was pregnant, slept with her brother’s wife, and also left her alone to deliver a baby son on her own, drank heavily all the time, spent her money like it was going out of style. They fought all the time. But, she never left him. In a 2002 CBS News interview, she said that despite everything, she loved him and was concerned how a divorce would harm her children. "I didn't need him, but he was my kids' daddy. Why leave hearts laying on the floor for me. I had to think of my kids. I can't be that selfish. He broke my heart lots of time, but that woulda broke the kids' hearts, wouldn't it?" Doo died in 1996 from diabetes brought on by his alcoholism.
Two of Loretta's daughters run the family's Hurricane Mills ranch in Tennessee, where two millions fans and tourists visit each year. Loretta took ownership of it in 1966. It includes campgrounds, a concert pavilion, a western town, and the Coal Miner's Daughter Museum. Tour show the plantation home where Loretta lived until she built a new house a few years ago, a museum, and a replica of the cabin in which she was born. The Amateur National Motocross Championships are held at Hurricane Mills every year.
Nicknamed "The First Lady of Country Music," Loretta's accomplishments as a solo artist and with singing partner Conway Twitty are inspiring and laudable. She has written more than 160 songs and released 70 albums. She has had 17 Number 1 albums and 16 Number 1 singles on the country charts. She's won numerous awards for her albums and singles, setting remarkable records in many categories. One of these was when she was selected to be the first woman to win the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year trophy in 1972 (a huge honor) and Loretta was the first country star to appear on the cover of Newsweek Magazine in 1973. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1986. In 2003, Loretta was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. Even in her 70s, she was still penning new songs and performing at packed concerts.
Loretta's recipe for this crispy fried chicken is a Southern classic, and very budget-minded. While the recipe calls for Crisco, any vegetable shortening can be used in frying the chicken pieces. No amount was listed for how much shortening is needed. I'd say enough to fill the frying pot or skillet half-way (guesstimate: plus or minus 2 cups).
In some Southern kitchens, a few tablespoons of bacon fat is added to the shortening for additional flavor. Peanut oil is also popular for frying chicken. Your call.
Loretta Lynn's Crispy Fried Chicken
- 1 (2-1/2 to 3-pound) chicken, cut up into pieces
- Crisco vegetable shortening (can use other brands, but Crisco is the brand Loretta recommends)
Ingredients for Seasoned Flour (for dredging)
- 1-1/2 c. flour
- 1 T. garlic salt
- 1-1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1-1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
Ingredients for Crispy Batter
- 2/3 c. flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- 1 beaten egg yolk
- 3/4 c. water
To make the Seasoned Flour: Combine ingredients and set aside.
To make the Crispy Batter: Combine ingredients and set aside.
Heat Crisco shortening (or other shortening) to 365 degrees F.
Moisten chicken pieces. Dip/dredge each piece, one by one, in the seasoned flour, then dip in the crispy batter, then back again in the seasoned flour.
Fry the chicken pieces for 15 to 18 minutes or until well browned. Drain on paper towels.
Makes 4 servings.
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CD Kitchen, "Loretta Lynn's Crispy Fried Chicken," (http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs/458/LorettaLynnsCrispyFriedCh65126.shtml).
Internet Movie Database, "Loretta Lynn" (www.imdb.com).
Kohn, David, CBS News website, "Legends: Loretta Lynn Tells All", (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/05/10/48hours/main508640.shtml), December 27, 2002.
Lynn, Loretta, with Patsi Bale Cox, Still Woman Enough: A Memoir, Hyperion Press, NY, NY, 2002.
Lynn, Loretta, You're Cookin' It Country: My Favorite Recipes and Memories, Rutledge Hill Press, Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN, 2004.
Wikipedi.org website, "Loretta Lynn," (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loretta_Lynn).