Margaret's Chicken a happy reminder of Kaufman's in BG
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor
Tuesday, 12 February 2013 09:11
Most folks who've lived in the Bowling Green area longer than a decade or two will remember with particular fondness "Margaret's Chicken," a specialty of the house at the old Kaufman's Restaurant.
| Margarent Miller is seen with her signature fried chicken at her home in Bowling Green Ohio on February 8, 2013. (Photos: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
"It was a baked chicken, and we served it family style," explains namesake Margaret Miller. "We served it every Tuesday night downtown, and every Thursday at the Lodge," the Kaufman's spin-off that used to exist on East Wooster Street across from the university stadium.
But Miller goes back in time with the Kaufman family even longer than that.
"The first 10 years I worked for the Kaufman's I worked at the Bowling Green Country Club, and that's where we started doing chicken."
She perfected the recipe in stages.
"I had a friend who did chicken pretty near like this, but I always thought there had to be a way to make the breading stick better.
"Someone told me to use Cream of Tartar," so one day she tried it "and it made it crispier."
That, and her inclusion of Lawry's Season Salt became Miller's signature style chicken - and the rest was history.
Soon demand was so heavy that she found herself drowning in the birds.
"I cooked seven cases of chicken downtown every Tuesday," each case including 24 chickens cut into eight pieces.
"And at the lodge we did nine cases."
Older customers preferred Kaufman's at the Lodge because the interior of the restaurant had better lighting, she says.
With the passing of restaurant and family patriarch Stan Kaufman last October, his nephew, Doug, wondered if the Cook's Corner could feature one or more of the much-loved recipes from the old days.
He mentioned in particular Miller's chicken, and "Louise's Salad" and chili, both courtesy of another longtime Kaufman's cook, Louise Pultz McGiffin.
Unfortunately, McGiffin recently moved into a local nursing home and is no longer cooking.
But Miller is still able to whip up a batch of her signature chicken.
In fact, the public can still taste it on occasion.
"I do the chicken twice a year at the church," she said of semi-annual fundraising dinners at Village View Church of Christ on West Poe Road. "The kids help, and we get it done."
Miller misses the old days at Kaufman's.
"It was a fun job and I enjoyed it very much. I always say the worst thing that ever happened was having to retire." But arthritis in her legs gave her no choice.
Miller, the oldest of seven children, says her own mother was an excellent cook "and she taught me well.
"I started at a very young age working outside the home," initially starting as a babysitter from age 14 on. "I took over the cooking (in the homes where she babysat) because I enjoyed doing it."
The former Margaret Augsburger grew up west of Findlay and took a job at 16 as a maid in the home of a wealthy Findlay family.
"Their daughter was a pro golfer. That was a day when you won $250 or a silver cooler for winning a tournament.
"So I cooked for all the old-time big golfers, including Babe (Didrikson) Zaharias. Her husband was a professional wrestler, huge. For breakfast he would have a one-pound chuck roast and a dozen eggs."
Miller, who married a man from Cygnet, was a bride of just a few months' standing when her mother died at age 47.
"I had a sister 9 years old. I continued to work, but brought stuff home on weekends to help out."
For a time she worked at the student union at Bowling Green State University, a job she disliked and quit when she had her three children. "Then I cooked for the fraternities, and I loved that. I did that 14 years."
Meanwhile, her daughters babysat for the children of Tony Kaufman, who is Stan's son. They "had told him I was a cook, I guess.
"He came down and said 'We need some help down here for the summer'" which turned into a full time job by Christmas 1976. "They were going to take over the bar and the kitchen at the country club. I sorta was the only cook."
In those days they fed people coming into town for the annual Tractor Pull, because there was no food on the grounds, "and we fed the BGSU football teams before games (because) the university didn't cater them."
Once she moved on to Kaufman's downtown, Miller "did a lot of the baking and a lot of the prep. I liked that better than working on the line. We made all our rolls, and all our pies were homemade."
The drippings from the baked chicken were used as roux to make the gravy for real mashed potatoes. "I peeled 60 pounds of potatoes at a time."
For anyone itching to bake a batch of Miller's chicken this week, she has one very important admonition.
"You have to use margarine" on the chicken skin. "If you brush it with butter, it burns too fast."
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. Cream of Tartar
1/2 cup Lawry's Season Salt
Blend above ingredients well.
2 cup up chickens
Roll chicken in flour mixture. Put on cookie sheet and let set for one hour. Then brush with melted margarine - not butter! Sprinkle with paprika.
Bake at 400 degrees F. for 45 minutes to one hour, depending on size of chicken.
This recipe is best if you cook at least two chickens.
Use drippings from chicken pan. Add two Tablespoons flour. Blend. Add chicken broth to desired thickness.
Serve with mashed potatoes, peas, cole slaw, dessert of your choice.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 February 2013 09:18