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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sanders Cafe and Museum in North Corbin, Kentucky

I do a lot of genealogy and family history so have always been interested in how our ancestors ate and stored foods.  It is especially interesting to see what kind of equipment our ancestors used along with their methods of food storage.  Being foodies we are both interested in the history of foods and that includes restaurant foods.  We stopped at Sanders Cafe and Museum in North Corbin, Kentucky on our way home from our vacation home.  Sanders Court and Cafe is the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Sanders Cafe and Museum in North Corbin, Kentucky
The Colonel Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum is located in Corbin, Kentucky off of I-75, Exit 29 then go 1 mile south on 25E, turn right on 25W one half mile.  The directions sound a little confusing but it is only because 25 bends around.  The quaint white building is rather easy to find. It is how the restaurant appeared in the 1940's.   There is a historical plaque outside of the museum that is well worth reading.  This is very much a working museum with dining tables set up amongst the various displays.  Rooms like the kitchen and motel display are blocked off from roaming through with a low glass barrier.  To the furthest side behind the rounded entrance (back middle of picture) is the restaurant where you can order eat-in or take-out.  We didn't order anything but certainly enjoyed looking through the displays!

the origninal Sanders Cafe kitchen
The original Sanders Cafe kitchen like many commercial kitchens is not large but it was well organized.  Harland Sanders started Sanders Court and Cafe in 1930 where he originally fried chicken in an iron skillet.  Despite being in the trying times of the Great Depression he was quite successful.  He certainly did not use a lot of fancy equipment but he did put out exellent food.  The kitchen obviously was utilitarian with function first.  He realized that frying the chicken in an iron skillet took 30 minutes so in 1939 Colonel Sanders altered his cooking method to us a pressure fryer that would reduce the cooking time allowing him to serve more patrons quicker.  And thuse was born Kentucky fried chicken.

original pressure cookers used by Colonel Sanders for Kentucky fried chicken
I work with pressure canners and cookers a lot so can really appreciate the logistics of what went into using pressure cookers as a pressure fryer.  Pictured on the top are the two 4 qt Mirro-Matics with single Wisconsin valves.  Both have weights as regulators and one has a custom made metal label for Kentucky Fried Chicken.    The lower pressure cooker is a double Wisconsin valve pressure that was in used from the 1960's until the advent of self-contained pressure fryers.

I mentioned the logistics of using a pressure cooker as a pressure fryer.  Pressure cookers are designed to operate at 15 lb pressure which is one reason they should not be used for pressure canning.  The second problem is a pressure cooker can only be filled 2/3 full so that really restricts the amount that can be cooked in a pressure cooker so at best these pressure cookers could only put out small amounts of chicken at peak time but it would be faster than pan frying.  It just boggles my mind that he was able to achieve this without blowing up a pressure cooker!

These are exactly the same types of pressure cookers I have in use and certainly the same type available to the general public during that era.  In fact very little has changed with the design of modern pressure cookers.  Modern pressure cookers should not be used as a pressure fryer though.  There are specific pressure fryers meant for home use but unless you are frying a lot of chicken they are really a bit on the expensive side at $230 or more for the unit. 

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