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Finishing Chicken Legs

Fried chicken legs can haunt a childhood.

Growing up, supper was almost always meat, often from the grill (hopefully from the grill, please, no meatloaf) and potatoes, usually baked. Chicken was prominently featured. Dark meat chicken. Dark meat chicken on the bone. Especially a drumstick. The only portion fit for the wary to eat, after stealing oneself, was the tiny strip of meat about a half an inch from the fat end of the drumstick and an inch and a half from the skinny end. Avoid the weird stuff, the gristle, at all costs.

Barely touched drumsticks were way too much carcass for the more vulturous to ignore. At some point, a claw would rise from the opposite side of the kitchen table, complete with painted (often press-on) nails. The claw would descend on the discarded drumsticks. As the claw retreated, chicken legs secured, a very young Daddy would work hard to avert the eyes. Stare at the floor. Watch the plate. Turn to the little black and white TV in the corner. Just don’t look at Mom.

Because over there…Mom would be ripping apart the stringier parts of the legs, stripping those bones bare, with a smile on her face. She would sometimes provide gleeful commentary, just to up little Daddy’s ick factor. There was just no way to get through childhood without witnessing her clean a coop (or two) of chicken legs taken from Daddy’s plate. Those images got in. And, there’s no getting them out.

So, when Papa randomly decides to fry some chicken legs over Memorial Day weekend, a flashback or two is unavoidable.

C (face horrified): What is that white thing?
F (in equal horror): Daddy, what is that brown stuff?
D (squelching a wretch, ready to tell them what the white thing and brown stuff are): That’s…
P (coming over): Ummmmm. That’s the good part of the chicken.

One man’s good is another man’s gross. But, this is definitely one meal that *Daddy* will never insist that they “finish”…

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