Sunday, March 30, 2008

mmm, mull!

The Danielsville Volunteer Fire Department hosts an annual chicken mull fundraiser. This is a dish only found in NE Georgia and it well-loved by the locals here. A bunch of friends and I went last night to the annual event, it being my first time. They showed me the ropes, because there is a definite process to eating mull. The thickened soup/stew is accompanied by hot pickles, cole slaw, and saltine crackers. One must crumble LOTS of saltines into the bowl of mull, and if brave, season it with Tabasco. Sweet tea is of course on hand and for dessert there was cherry or apple crumble to choose from.

Fire Department guys roam around with a pitcher of more mull and refill you as much as you want. Mull is made with milk, butter, seasonings, and either shredded or ground meat. In the old days rabbit was used quite frequently, my old timer friends tell me. Today the meat of choice is chicken. Tee shirts are available, they say, "DVFD 25th annual Chicken mull: no bones about it just good mull." It was an enjoyable, very local, evening.

Mull this over:
According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, the dish known in northeast Georgia as chicken mull is a stew of chicken meat (ground or cut into bite-sized or smaller pieces), broth, milk, butter, vegetables, and seasonings, thickened with crumbs of soda crackers. It is also called chicken stew, chicken soup (rarely), and in south Georgia, chicken jallop. Because grinding, cutting, and lengthy cooking can tenderize tough meat, chicken mull may have originated as a way to make tough old roosters and spent hens palatable.

Mulls are served in bowls and eaten at home, in restaurants, in hunters' camps, and at special events such as church socials, community gatherings, and fund-raisers. Like other regional stews served to large groups (for example, Brunswick stew, Kentucky burgoo, Carolina hash, and Virginia sheep stew), mull can be prepared in large pots, outdoors or under a shed.

Mull is traditionally a cold-weather dish. Northeast Georgians speak of the "mull season." According to local lore, almost any meat or combination can be used, including goat, dove, squirrel, and it is rumored, rat and roadkill.

In rabbit mull or crow stew, rabbit or crow replaces chicken. Turtle mull contains chicken as well as turtle and sometimes such additional meats as beef, pork, and even beaver. Jallop is sometimes made from catfish.

To make chicken mull, pieces of chicken are simmered in water in a kettle or Dutch oven about one hour, until done. When the pieces are cool, the skin and bones are removed and the meat is ground or cut, then restored to the broth. Milk and butter are added and cracker crumbs are stirred in until the desired thickness is achieved. The consistency varies, but typically mull is similar to cooked oatmeal.

Other ingredients may include baking soda; such vegetables as celery, onion, tomato sauce or paste, tomatoes, ketchup, lemon, and garlic; and such seasonings as salt, red and black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, and hot pepper sauce. Traditional side dishes include sweet pickles; onion rings, cucumbers, and tomatoes marinated in vinegar; slaw or salad; and green beans. Chicken jallop is sometimes served over hamburger buns.


maggiegracecreates said...

Molly and I were in Asheville NC for a volleyball tournament. This is the first mull we have missed since we moved to Comer better than 22 years ago.

Love that stuff. You can get it on the menu at Bills Bar B Que.

Elizabeth Prata said...

No kidding! Thanks for letting me know! LOL, Bill's BBQ is a great place too.