I started the Coach4aday blog in 2014 and have done daily posts on one topic for each year. In 2014 my daily posts were on the “Beer of the Day”, 2015 it was “A Friend of a Friend”, 2016 I wrote about “North Carolina”, and in 2017 it was “Colleges and Universities”.
The one consistent piece of feedback I have received with this blog is the 2015 series on “A Friend of a Friend”. Readers and blog followers said please bring it back. The stats also back that up with the number of views each of those posts received.
So in 2018 two things will happen with the Coach4aday blog; One I plan to collaborate with a friend named John Rancke and revisit some of those 2015 “A Friend of a Friend” posts and do some new ones with a slightly different twist. I write the posts on odd-numbered days each month and John handles the even-numbered days.
In addition John and I will write about things we both are interested which will include basketball, food, people, music, our granddaughters, and great stories.
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My twitter handle is @coach4aday2 if you want to follow the blog that way.
John’s twitter handle is @johnrancke if you want to reach out to him.
March 22, 2018 D& U Chicken
Post written by John Rancke
I’ve eaten fried chicken all my life. Growing up with a grandmother in the house, it was nothing unusual to have fried chicken once a week. Fried on the stove in a cast iron frying pan. It was always a real treat to go the monthly family night suppers at the Presbyterian Church in Lumberton when I was young. There might be 4-5 plates of fried chicken on the buffet table, each provided by a different church member and each cooked or seasoned just a little differently.
Soaked in buttermilk overnight, soaked in water, soaked in salt, leg quarters, breasts, thighs, large drumsticks, small drumsticks, gizzards, livers, lemon pepper flavored, bland, spicy, Greek seasoning, peanut oil, Lard, air fried, and a thousand more variations, parts, flavors, etc.
I’ve had great fried chicken in North Carolina. I’ve eaten fried chicken I wouldn’t feed a homeless man or woman. I loved football tailgates in Chapel Hill with cold fried chicken that was fried at home early in the morning before heading up through Fayetteville to Lillington to Fuquay to Apex to the field beside Carmichael for tailgating. No parking decks, just open fields with cars in neat rows with trunks open and the fried chicken, deviled eggs, pimento cheese, and ham biscuits everywhere.
The Blue Zone in Kenan Stadium and the parking deck behind it was built on top of the former parking lot that every football Saturday was the location of Ma D’s or Mrs. Tessie Dempsey’s (from Wilson) 2 car loaded to the gills with every picnic food known to man or woman. It was the gathering point each home football game for present and former basketball players, managers, and coaches to visit and eat her fried chicken. 2 huge tables, coolers of soft drinks, sandwiches, and that Fried Chicken. It was a tradition for years. For many years the basketball media guide would list each player’s favorite tv show, movie, ambition in life, and various other little tidbits of info. The most popular answer when asked about favorite food was “Ma D’s chicken”. Rest in peace Tessie and Jimmy Dempsey, we remember the love and care you showed and gave us.
Let you in on a little secret. It’s not easy frying chicken. Time consuming, messy, and not easy to get it right. If you are looking for a shortcut and willing to put grandmother’s chicken in the back recesses of your mind, Go to Lowes Foods and get their fried chicken when it’s just out of the cooker. IT AIN’T Bad for bought chicken.
I’m not sure what that stuff is that Kentucky Fried Chicken sells now. I do think they have a deal with their suppliers to buy the absolute worst, smallest, least meat pieces of chicken you can find. Give me the old Holly Farms with some honey drizzled on the top. Bojangles? It can be really good 25 miles out in the ocean deep sea fishing and it’s been warming in the sun since 5 am. That was my first experience eating Bojangles off Morehead City and I was a believer. But somehow, Bojangles on land at noon just isn’t the same. Smithfield Chicken and BBQ is ok in a rush and is popular at tailgates before football games as is Bojangles.
Tyson’s in Lumberton, NC and now in Wilmington, NC serves good fried chicken, but memories of J K Bringle at the Country Club and his chicken race to the front of the line in Lumberton with the memories of the fried chicken at the recently reopened Fullers BBQ close behind. Village Inn on Fairmont Road isn’t bad but it’s only open 3 days per week.
Those convenience stores on the side of the highway that serve fried gizzards by the cupful are often times a lifesaver when traveling down NC 41 or 211 or other country highways. Mike’s Farm in Beaulaville serves great fried chicken out in the country. God the Boone and eat it at the Daniel Boone Inn. Better yet, go to Shatley Springs up near Crumpler outside of Boone, NC and try theirs. Top 10 for sure in my book.
Chicken from Shatley Springs
Prices Chicken Coop in Charlotte is the best I’ve had in the Queen City. Hole in the wall but just good eating. Mama Dips in Chapel Hill, I haven’t tried it yet. Don’t know why not, just haven’t gone. Parkers BBQ in Wilson has better fried chicken than they do bbq now in my opinion. Just my opinion and we each have one, or should. Express it, don’t hold it in.
The best in my book is in the Port City, little city by the River, known as Wilmington. Plenty of fried chicken choices there from Jackson’s Big Oak BBQ on Kerr Ave, to Parchies behind New Hanover High School, to Casey’s Buffet on Oleander, to the United House of Prayer on Dawson Street as you roll into town from Leland, to Mrs. Pats Wings on South 17th St, to the Mecca of Fried Chicken in my book.
Located at 606 Nixon Street in the northern part of downtown Wilmington and just east of 4th street lies D & U Chicken. Just a small concrete building on the side of the road just ¼ mile from D C Virgo Middle School and less than a mile from the City of Wilmington Police main headquarters, it has served fried chicken for more than 25 years.
There is a saying in Wilmington , “ It’s fresh grease Thursday”, referring to the D & U, but in reality, they change their grease each day. They are only open Thursday -Saturday. It’s a small family business and each chicken order is cooked when ordered so the wait is usually about 15 minutes. They only take cash and there are no call-in orders. So step up to the counter., place your order, and talk to the man or woman sitting beside you for the next little while. You might really be surprised to see how much you have in common with each other.
The chicken they serve is the complete opposite of that KFC stuff with the skinny legs and no meat. D & U serves good chicken portions. Nothing scrawny about the chicken here. Served hot and appears from behind a wall gives the place a hint of mystery. The chicken just shows up.
Now here is what is special about D & U. the portions. You can order a four-piece wing dinner with fries and coleslaw (the coleslaw is a story in itself as I’ve never had any better) and when you open your box there will be 2-3 extra wings. Order the three-piece dinner with coleslaw and fries and you will get 4-5 pieces of chicken. They give you more than your money’s worth of just old fried the old fashion way Fried Chicken. There’s a sign behind the counter that reads if you buy over $1.37 worth of food, you get a leg for free. One free leg translates to two at D & U.
And for all those people that enjoy eating in the Port City I offer you this tidbit. On Facebook there is group that you apply to join. It’s called SIET Wilmington or Should I Eat There Wilmington. There are thousands of reviews good and bad of every possible eating choice in Wilmington. Honest evaluations from other members and it can save you heartaches and also give you some hidden gems off the beaten track. Be in the Know rather than just say No.
Here is just one of the thousands of postings on SIET for D & U:
D & U CHICKEN, 606 Nixon Street
“I had to be downtown today so on the way home I stopped at D&U Chicken to get a plate to go. My 88 year old mother is in search for the best fried chicken in Wilmington so I needed to try it out for her. There are a few old worn but clean tables in the restaurant. I got it to go (as did everyone else waiting for their order). It was freshly cooked so it took a little over 15 minutes. I ordered the two-piece white meat plate with slaw and fries. It took me about 30 minutes to get home with my order (Friday at noon, before Labor Day weekend, dealing with Wilmy traffic!) so I was afraid it wouldn’t be good by the time I got home. I was wrong! Chicken was pretty much fried to perfection and not at all greasy. Tasted like I had just taken it out of the fryer, not like it had been sitting on my front car seat for 30 minutes. It could have been just a tad more juicy but the fact that there was no grease was lovely. I loved the slaw too-sweet and creamy. I had ordered the two-piece but when I opened the box at home, I had gotten a breast and 5-6 smallish chicken wings. Quite a bonus. Fries held up nicely from the ride home. Also came with 2 pieces of white bread. They put a little piece of paper over the coleslaw section of the container so that the juice didn’t run over into the chicken I’ll be taking my mother there next week. Cash only – no cards or checks.”
Don’t judge a book by its cover. I will say that D & U is best ordered before the sun sets over the western sky.