Many people around the world now know about a dish popularly attributed to Mid-Atlantic coastal America, known as Chicken Maryland. This regional version of fried chicken comes breaded, with a creamy gravy sauce. Often seen as “Chicken Maryland” or “Chicken a la Maryland,” this rich chicken entree is a favorite with many aficionados of fried foods.
The way many chefs prepare this unique dish, the chicken is pan-fried and covered to seal in heat, which provides a moist and flavorful result. Along with this signature technique, the gravy, to which many cooks add a heavy cream, helps to distinguish chicken Maryland. Some recipes call for a buttermilk marinade or similar dairy based concoction.
Another thing that might characterize chicken Maryland on some menus is a variety of sides that are traditionally associated with this dish. Some offerings will be accompanied by hush puppies. Hush puppies are basically fried balls of dough that are very popular in American mid-Atlantic and Southeastern cuisine. Other common sides for chicken Maryland include steamed corn, greens or, in some modern cases, macaroni and cheese.
The dish is popular along a uniquely rural area of Maryland state, known as the Eastern Shore. Many tourists around the world flock to this area to see the region’s wild horses, as well as to enjoy the Atlantic beach areas of this region. The Eastern Shore is a peninsula east of the major Chesapeake Bay area, cut off from the mainland but connected to the northern mid-Atlantic states by a common land mass, and to southern Virginia by a thirteen mile bridge tunnel called the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Dishes like this may pop up on the menus at Eastern Shore restaurants as part of local flavor and culture in this popular vacation destination.
Homestyle versions of chicken a la Maryland vary quite a bit. Some recipes use a richer method of combining amounts of rum or other liquor with a cream of mushroom soup from a can. Others involve more vegetable elements, classical seasonings like black peppercorns, and garnishes like pimentos. There is often a focus on the method of breading the fried chicken in an egg and cracker crumb mixture. Where this menu item is known, it is variously considered to be either a take on an historic dish, or a simple family recipe.