Best I Ever Ate? Broaster Chicken at Fleetwood in Springfield, IL.

I love doing my own version of Cooking Channel’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”, because I don’t have to play by their rules and in this installment, I get to go back in time 40 years (and 300 plus miles), to a place that’s no longer around, but still makes me hungry for a food I tend to rail about. But I learned something stunning (to me) along the way.

Picture it, early 1980’s, and I’m starting out my career in Illnois’ state capital, Springfield. Out on the northeast side of town, along Dirksen Parkway, is the Fleetwood Restaurant. It’s far from fancy, but as with most of these kind of places, it’s got good food. And the Fleetwood’s specialty is “broasted” chicken. It’s moist, not greasy, seasoned just right. Darn near perfect; even the chicken breasts.

Fleetwood in Springfield, IL.

Now here’s where things get dicey for me. I’ve been railing for several years about how people get all excited to the point of making traffic jams for what is essentially just a piece of chicken on a bun, like at Chick-fil-A. But while doing my homework for this piece, I come to find out, a lot of these trendy chicken places are serving essentially broasted (or simply pressure-fried) chicken, like the chicken I loved at the Fleetwood..

“Pressure frying is also used by some of the larger food-service operations, such as KFC (formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken) and Chick-Fil-A. These companies do not use the term “broasted,” however, since it is trademarked by Broaster Company. Pressure frying can be attempted at home using special equipment.” –

There are recipes on the interwebs for doing your own broasted chicken, though I read pressure cooker makers don’t want you doing it at home, for safety reasons. But, at the same time, apparently broasted uses less oil than fried chicken, so it’s probably healthier for you.

So back to Springfield. Springfield has some historic places still around from the legendary Route 66 era. “The Mother Road” went though Springfield. So there’s the Cozy Dog Drive-In selling batter-dipped corn dogs on a stick; and Sonrise Donuts, so it’s not health food we’re focusing on here.

I guess I need to rethink my complaining about chicken sandwiches, and focus on the traffic jams they create instead.

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