Cooking Chicken with Brenda Gantt
By Caleb Hicks
Brenda Gantt's house is filled with fixtures found in the home of a typical Southern lady. There are antique dressers, knick-knacks, hand-made pottery and a dining room table that could seat a small village. A homey kitchen is filled with well-seasoned cast iron cookware used to prepare her now-famous chicken recipes.
The 74-year-old Andalusia resident soared to fame during the COVID-19 pandemic last year when her homemade biscuit how-to video went viral. She's also famous for her chicken, a skill Gantt said she learned from her mother.
“Besides getting married and having to figure it out, my mother was my real teacher in the kitchen,” said Gantt, a retired schoolteacher. “Yes, I have cooked chicken not long enough sometimes and had to stick it back in the fryer or the oven, but that was when I first got really into cooking. I think a lot of it is just trial and error.”
Along with her social media stardom, Gantt owns a bed and breakfast, The Cottle House, which now has more than an eight-month waiting list. The B&B is across the road from her house, and she cooks breakfast every day for her guests.
She said she enjoys seeing others gobble up her dishes.
“It always makes me feel good if someone likes what I fix, no matter if it’s chicken or something else,” Gantt said. “If we’re going to cook, we want whoever is eating it to like and enjoy it. I like to see folks go back for seconds.”
Gantt, known for her oft-quipped line, “It’s gonna be good y’all,” credits God for her online success and sees it as an opportunity to teach viewers how to cook and to tell them a little about Jesus.
“People say my cooking is great and reminds them of their grandparent’s or mother’s,” Gantt said. “But they say the real icing on the cake is Jesus, and that I’m lifting them up and giving them hope through Christ. Some are saying they had stopped cooking, but they’re getting back in the kitchen after seeing my videos.
“The Lord has had a hand in this since I posted that first video in April of 2020. I didn’t plan it. He made it happen, so I get to mention His name.”
According to Gantt, the possibilities are nearly endless when cooking a whole chicken, and she even provides a few quick tips for preparing the bird.
“Chicken is a healthy meat that’s high in protein, and kids need that,” she said. “You can stretch it out so far and use every bit for a meal, even the bones for broth. Don’t ever throw anything away, except the bare bones after there is nothing left on them.”
Brenda’s Quick Chicken-Prep Tips
“In order to cut up a good chicken, or anything else, you have to have a sharp knife,” Gantt says. “You pull the knife toward your body using a knife sharpener. ‘Iron sharpens iron’ is in the Bible. It’s true for metal and true for people building each other up.”
Once your knife is sharp:
1. Wash the chicken in a clean sink, remembering to disinfect the sink afterward.
2. Start by cutting the legs and thighs on each side of the chicken and separating.
3. Next come the wings. Says Gantt, “I hold the chicken by the wing and use the weight of the bird to pull it down when I cut. I cut part of the breast off with them so there’s a little extra meat. I also cut the tip off.”
4. Pull the back off and use for boiling broth.
5. Slice out the pulley bone, (the heart-shaped piece at the top of the breasts).
6. Then, you cut the “saddle” out, and you’re left with the two breasts to cut away.
7. Cook your desired chicken meals. All ovens are different, so keep that in mind if you’re baking.
With all the fame, Gantt said what comes next in her journey is in the Lord's hands.
“I am not even concerned with it one bit,” she said. “If it ends today, that is the Lord’s plan. He’d be closing a door, and I’m sure He’d open another one. I don’t even worry about anything like that, and I guess part of the reason I feel that way is I haven’t really realized what this all means anyway.”
Follow Brenda on Facebook at Cooking with Brenda Gantt and Instagram @cookingwithbrendagantt. Her first cookbook, “It’s Gonna Be Good Y’all,” is set for a November release. To preorder, call 1-833-839-6871 or go to brendaganttbook.com.