December 31, 2013

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church Parish Picnic - Every July 4

I was there in 2012 with friends and it became one of my favorite of the various fried chicken picnics. I don't know how they heard about this event but somehow we ended up on a road trip direction Schulenburg. We weren't sure exactly where St. John was, thinking it might actually be in Schulenburg proper. But we came across a sign on the main street and that sign led us to a street that led to a street that led to a road through a series of name changes from James Street to South Street to Old St. Johns Road. Bingo. We were on our way. Now, the actual church name is St. John the Baptist and as you will see in one of these photos, it is one of the painted churches of this part of Texas. Like the church just outside of Hallettsville (the road to St. Mary, "turn right at the John Deere tractor place") there is a road sign with St. John marking the former community and the church. But you wouldn't have any trouble finding it as they've installed a mechanical crane with a big sign announcing the picnic (well, that and the number of cars for the event). It's a really big event and thousands of pounds of stew meat and chicken are prepared. Their chicken batter follows a recipe that I consider classic for this part of Texas. The chicken is given a dip in flour, then it is given a wet dip into milk which has been iced down and then goes into a tub with seasoned flour, and then into the fryer. The milk comes from a local family dairy and the milk is raw milk delivered fresh the day of as the dairy has been licensed for same. The family name Chaloupka (the "c" is silent) is such a great Czech name (sounds like hah-louka) and here is their web address:

http://www.fouredairy.com

This was a classic church picnic. The horn section of the Shiner Hobo Band was in full swing when we got there, playing out their mix of polka, waltz, some country-western in the mix too.  Kolaches were courtesy of an excellent bakery in Schulenburg. There was sweetened tea, home made cakes and chocolate cookies, an auction, train ride for the kids, and our friend's daughter's favorite, the soda water bottle ring toss. To get technical for a minute, one of the frustrations with this and many other of the church picnics is the actual recipe. When the chicken comes out of the fryer it is truly awesome. Crispy, hot, just amazing. It is thoroughly cooked. I mention this because when you are using a milk bath, there are residual sugars in the milk, and these can cause the crust to brown too quickly before the chicken is cooked through. I'm sure this is the reason they dilute the milk with ice. The problem would go away if they used ice water. But, I'm not about to fix something that isn't really broke. At the picnics, they have to serve so many people that the chicken goes into foil lined cardboard boxes and all that residual steam softens up the crust by the time it is served. Now, the chicken is still delicious. But I've got to find some way to sweet talk the servers into letting me sneak a few pieces right as they come out of the fryer.

But first, a little video link:



And here is one from last year:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRjwl-3warc

This video clip from last year features the Shiner Hobo Band:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVc4e_uUNyQ

And now, some photos of the picnic

























































1 comment:

  1. Hi Jay, thanks for your comment, the kind words and the tip on your blog. Looks good; I'm going to be doing some reading over the next several days I see.

    You are a hard man to get in touch with too.

    I wasn't aware of the picnic and don't think I can make it but will look for you if I do. I have evening plans around a fireworks show and it's going to be a long day already so I probably won't make it but I'll be watching for other opportunities.

    Bruce

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