Maryland, my yummy Maryland

Celebrate Maryland Day today with a Free State spread

Celebrate Maryland Day today with a Free State spread

March 25, 2009|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

Born and raised in Washington County, I've always loved my home state. I can tell you the state flower is the black-eyed Susan, the state cat is the calico, the dog is the Chesapeake Bay retriever and the state song is "Maryland, My Maryland."

Although I've never competed in the state sport of jousting, I have on several occasions sampled the sweet meat of Maryland blue crabs.

But Maryland food consists of more than just blue crabs laden in salt and Old Bay seasonings or served as a soup.

Maryland is divided in its cuisine. Here, in the western part of the state, we are most influenced by Pennsylvania Dutch settlers. Those living closer to the Eastern Shore see a more English influence. But either way food is served, it all reminds me of home.


Here are just a few dishes that have long been associated with Maryland:

o Chesapeake Bay oysters: The mollusks were once so plentiful that many Baltimore streets were surfaced with oyster shells. Raw, fried or stewed, oysters continue to be a Free State favorite. And when I was growing up, Dad always requested oyster stuffing for Thanksgiving. Although disease has caused a decline in the oyster harvest, the Oyster Recovery Partnership, a government and business collaboration, was established in 2008 to ensure future Marylanders can partake.

o Steamers: Ask Washington County natives to describe a steamer and they will tell you it's not a sloppy joe. Steamers are made from boiling hamburger and chili sauce, giving it just enough kick.

o Maryland fried chicken: My friend, who lives in Kentucky (home to another famous fried chicken), Facebooked me the other day just to let me know how excited she was to try Maryland fried chicken for the first time. Some recipes call for the chicken to be served with a white gravy, but that's not the tradition I grew up with. There's an argument that Maryland fried chicken is really Southern fried chicken, because, technically, we are the South.

o Country ham sandwiches: Ham curing has a long tradition in Maryland. A popular fundraising sandwich, at least in Washington County, country ham sandwiches are, in my opinion, served best in a soft potato roll.

o Maryland beaten biscuits: Beaten biscuits are said to date from the early days of southern Maryland plantations. Purists believe in lard for flaky biscuits and use an old mallet to actually beat the biscuit dough.

o Smith Island 10-layer cake: Someone on the Chesapeake Bay island must have had a sweet tooth with this 10-layer yellow cake with chocolate frosting. It's been such a tradition that people specifically order the cakes from the island today. Oh, by the way, it's the official dessert of Maryland. Find the recipe at

Maryland fried chicken

2 1/2 to 3 pounds of fryer chicken, cut up
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 medium-sized eggs
2 tablespoons milk (buttermilk or water is fine)
2 cups of dry bread crumbs or crumbled corn flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil for frying

Mix flour, salt, paprika, pepper in a shallow bowl. In another bowl, mix eggs and milk. In a third bowl, mix together crumbs and salt.

In a frying pan, heat vegetable oil over high heat, coating the bottom about 1/4-inch deep. Oil should be popping to show that it's hot enough. Arrange bowls from left to right - flour mixture, egg mixture and crumb mixture.

Dredge chicken in flour mixture, then in egg mixture, then in crumb mixture. Carefully place chicken pieces in oil. Fry on each side about 10 minutes. Turn heat to low. Cover pan with lid.

Be sure to flip thighs and breasts at least twice. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes more or until juices run clear. Remove lid and continue to cook for 5 minutes.

Cook's notes: You'll need a nice-sized pan and a lid that will cover the chicken. For an added spice, throw in 1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning.

--Courtesy of Crystal Schelle

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