The first order of business is catching a chicken. Dwight runs around in his backyard with his arms outstretched. His favorite technique is to corner a hen and leap on it. When he catches one, he inserts the chicken, beak-first, into an old fashioned laundry-wringer (the same one that his grandma, who sang briefly with the Carter Family and who bought young Dwight his first hammer dulcimer, used to launder baby Dwight's drawers) and turns the crank until a "chicken pancake" comes out the other side. Next, he uses an empty tin can to cut out "chicken circles" from the pancake. He pokes his finger through each chicken circle to create a "chicken ring."
Each chicken ring is breaded with a special mixture, the ingredients of which were passed down from his grandfather, Claude "Pappy Bowlegs" Yoakam, who handed over the recipe after a team of former Abu Ghraib prison guards paid Pappy a visit and convinced him that it was not in his best interest to keep the recipe a secret.
Finally, the chicken rings are tossed in a skillet until golden brown. This is Dwight's favorite part of the day, and his lucky neighbors can hear him singing merrily as he stands over the stove.
The simple country boy takes pride in the basic wholesome ingredients that go into his products. You can read out what goes into his similar product, Dwight Yoakum's Chicken Lickin's Chicken Fries (it's really fun to poke a Chicken Fry through the hole of a Chicken Ring!), right on his website:
Chicken breast with rib meat, water, textured vegetable protein product (soy protein concentrate, zinc oxide, niacinamide, ferrous sulfate, copper gluconate, vitamin A palmitate, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate (B1), pyridoxine hydrochloride (B6), riboflavin (B2), and cyanocobalamin (B12)), seasoning (enriched wheat flour (enriched with niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), salt, yellow corn cones, enriched yellow corn flour (enriched with niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), leavening (sodium aluminum phosphate, sodium bicarbonate), spice, sugar, honey, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, wheat starch, nonfat dry milk, extractives of paprika, soy flour, dehydrated onion, garlic powder), dried whole egg, seasoning (salt, sugar, hydrolyzed corn gluten, spices, sodium tripolphosphate, dried onion, dried garlic, partially hydrogenated soybean and/ or cottonseed oil). BREADED WITH: Bleached wheat flour, yeast, sugar, yellow corn flour, salt, oleoresin of paprika. BATTERED WITH: Water, enriched wheat flour (enriched with niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), salt, yellow corn cones, enriched yellow corn flour (enriched with niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), leavening (sodium aluminum phosphate, sodium bicarbonate), spice, sugar, honey, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, wheat starch, nonfat dry milk, extractives of paprika, soy flour, dehydrated onion, garlic powder. Breading is set in vegetable oil.I don't know about you, but any food that comes with zinc oxide and sodium aluminum phosphate makes my mouth water. Link (via Strange New Products)
John Castle, Food Science & Technology, Oregon State University, says:
Zinc Oxide is a fungi static, meaning it is used to inhibit the growth of fungi in the vegetable protein and is a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) ingredient as classified by the FDA.
Sodium Aluminum Phosphate is found in almost all baked goods that use 'baking powder' as a leavening agent. When dissolved in water, the acid salt (sodium aluminum phosphate, in this case) combines with the alkali (sodium bicarbonate) to react and create CO2 gas, causing the bread to rise. If the product was already acidic then just baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) would be necessary.
There really isn't anything in that list of ingredients that you wouldn't find in your average home kitchen, the only stretch being the high fructose corn syrup.
Chris Meadows says:
Actually, sodium aluminum sulfate may not be as harmless as all that. Though conclusive proof hasn't been found yet, some studies suggest elevated aluminum levels in the body may be linked to Alzheimer's Disease, and many health advocates have started advising that it might be a good idea to avoid cookware, foods, and medicines (such as antacids) that contain aluminum just on general principles--and sodium aluminum sulfate baking powder is one such avoidable. (It also can add an undesirable aftertaste to foods baked with it.) Rumford brand is often suggested as a good aluminum-free baking powder alternative. (P.S. The baking powders I had read the ingredients on contain sodium aluminum sulfate, not phosphate, but it would hold true for the phosphate too.)
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.