A Georgia tradition–chicken mull.

While it is not unusual for me to proudly proclaim my Kentucky heritage, there are a few things that, like Kentucky’s hot browns and Ale-8, Georgia has all to its own. I’m going to address one of them today, and that is chicken mull.

Yes, indeedy, you read that right: mull. Not unlike “church fluff” and “funeral potatoes” in its own right, chicken mull is something you’ll often see at a church potluck or family gathering, usually in the colder months (when they make an appearance). It is also one of those foods that just doesn’t venture too far from its origins – chicken mull, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t exist far out of North Georgia, quite possibly not even out of the general Athens area. I know it definitely didn’t exist in my houses when I was growing up. Chicken and dumplings, chicken and stars, chicken noodle – chicken mull was nowhere to be found. Don’t confuse it with chicken stew, which is a different animal altogether. Stew involves vegetables, is mostly broth and leaves out the cream.

Though the origins of chicken mull elude me, I can be fairly sure that it was created in a time of a short-listed pantry. It’s pretty simple to make – shredded chicken, stock or broth, milk, crackers and salt and pepper. If you buy a whole chicken, as seen here, instead of chicken in a can and stock in a box (or can), you add cooking time but save money – poaching the chicken gives you plenty of stock and more than enough meat, but requires shredding by hand and straining the stock (my preference) before adding the meat and remaining ingredients into your liquid. You also have the option in such case to control what goes into your mull – always a plus in my book. The frugality appeal is what has made it so popular as a church potluck – cheap and easy, in monstrously gigundous rather large quantities if needed.

(Behold, my ugly CrockPot. Ahem.)

Mull is comfort food at the top of the list – creamy, thick and velvety on the tongue. Easy to make, and enough for leftovers to eat the next day or freeze for another time.  Fix it with a salad and have a full meal. The best way to eat it is hot out of the pot, with a generous helping of Texas Pete (no Tabasco, please), and maybe some extra crackers.

Chicken Mull
A Family Recipe

ingredients:
One whole roasting chicken (4-5 lbs)
2-3 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cans of evaporated milk or 3 1/2 cups milk or cream
2-3 sleeves of Ritz (or crackers of choice)
Salt and pepper to taste

directions:
Boil chicken in deep stockpot or crockpot, with enough water to cover, until meat is done and tender. Remove chicken from stock, let cool enough to handle, and shred meat from the bone. Strain stock back into cooking pot, add shredded meat, milk and additional broth. Let cook to a simmer, add crushed crackers and salt and pepper, and cook to desired thickness. Add more crackers if needed. Serve with hot sauce and extra crackers if desired.

It really is as simple as that. More crackers means a thicker mull; using milk or cream means a richer mull than using evaporated milk. It’s extremely forgiving, and very tasty. I promise you won’t regret making it the next cold night that comes around!

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26 thoughts on “A Georgia tradition–chicken mull.

  1. I live in Northeastern North Carolina and my family has been making chicken mull for as long as I can remember. In the winter time the local AMVET group does monthly chicken mull sales. It definitely exists outside of GA! The only difference I can see between NC and GA is that ours is a little thicker with more saltine crackers added.

  2. Thanks for giving me a true “Georgia” recipe. I’ve never seen it up here in North Georgia (Blue Ridge/Blairsville) but it’s definitely worth a try. Now if I can just ever find a good KY corn pudding recipe from Paris/Millersburg/Carlisle area I’d be set because I’ve always wanted to have a dinner party for my neighbors up here that represents parts of all of us.

    • Try this: 2 cans cream corn, 1 can kernel corn, 3 eggs, 1/3 cup heavy cream. Mix to combine, pour into a dish of desired size (9×9 for thick, and bigger size for thinner) and bake at 350F for 45 mins to an hour, or until pudding is set in the center and golden Brown on top. A 9×9 should serve 3-4 people. Hope it turns out!

      • Thanks… going to try this right away. The ones I always had in KY were somewhat “sweet” so I may add a little sugar to this too… going to try both ways and see which works best! Thank you again!

  3. Hate to burst your bubble, but Chicken Mull/Stew is made and sold right here in Spartanburg, SC at the Famous Beacon Drive In. It’s so good, I can eat some winter, spring, and summer!!!!!

  4. Thank you so very much, My husband and I live in Bend, Oregon but he was born and raised in and around athens and has been asking me about a white chicken stew his grandma used to make, and I had no idea what he was talking about! His grandma is from Winder Ga and they don’t call it Mull just white chicken stew or red chicken stew, anyways thanks we’ll be making tonight!

    • I just finished a cup of mull. I was born and raised in Stone Mtn, GA. and live very near Winder and Athens in Monroe. Got it from the church in December and froze it, thawed it yesterday and heated for lunch today. It is all that and a bag of chips!

      • Bet that stored mull was a welcome thing after last night’s cold snap! Brr!

        Good old Funroe! The First Friday concerts ought to be starting up again here soon – we’re looking forward to taking the kidlet toward the end of the summer!

  5. I posted on my Facebook page today that I was making chicken mull…No one knew what it was, my grandmother made in years ago and I have been making it for years, my son and myself are the only too who will eat it here, we grew up in Hartwell GA, it was the of the things you only had on Sundays, Sundays was all ways chickin day.one way or another you was eattin chickin. But I look on here I make mine a little different. Hope you all enjoy ur as will as I enjoy mine. Steven Andrews

  6. hi I,m from the great place of Crawford Ga. and I’ve had chicken and Rabbit mull all my life in all my life I had never heard of red chicken mull till my sister mother in law. she cooks the red mull and most of the peoples around their area is use to red but she also live in the same area I have tried both and they are good but I love the white better. planing to make it for the first time and I’m 50 years old

    • Angela, I live in Crawford too–originally from Nicholson, GA. I’ve had mull all my life, but the first time I had red mull was from The Devil’s Pond Fire Dept. Most people now grind the cooked meat for mull, but my mother always shredded it by hand, and I thought that was better. For some reason, the meat in red mull is shredded when the fire dept. makes it, and it’s ground up in the white mull. I like the white better, but not ground up.

  7. I have to say reading this has brought a proud tear to my eye. I was Born and raised in Athens and fondly remember my Brother in law making Turtle and Rabbit as well as Chicken Mull. I now live in Fl. but no matter where I go if I mention Mull I get disgusted or quizzical looks almost as many as when I mention BBQ Hash. I remember Chase Street Cafe as well. I often find myself longing for the “good Ole Days” Thank you so much for the great memories and recipe I’ll be having Chicken mULL BEFORE THE WEEKEND NOW!

    • Hi Frank! I’ve had rabbit and turtle mull too. Mull is comfort food elite! I hope you were able to make and enjoy some.

  8. Kate,

    Have been looking for a chicken mull recipe for a while. Use to live in Athens, Ga. when in college in the early 1970′s. There was a restaurant that I ate every Thursday called Chase Street Cafe. Mark Hansford made the best Chicken Mull. Thursday was Pork and Mull day at Chase Street Cafe. The restuarant is no longer there. It was an instuitution for a long time in Athens.

    Mully Ash

    • Mully,

      Hope this recipe satisfies. I’ve never heard of Chase Street Cafe (little after my time), but after some brain-searching, my in-laws remembered it. Landmarks come and go, but aren’t forgotten.

      Thanks for visiting,
      Kate

    • I live in Athens and remember the Chase St. Cafe very well. You are right, Mark Ed Hansford made the best Mull ever. Thirsday was Stew and Q day a hot bowl of Chicken Mull and a Bar-B-Q sandwich.
      Yes the Chase Street Cafe is long gone, but I’m proud to say that my friend Mark Ed is alive and kicking and enjoying retirement.

      • Is this the same Jimmy Carroll who worked with Athens Police Dept for many years & provided late night security @ Bubba Elder’s Package Store. If so, it’s good to hear from you & hope you’re doing well. Still talk to Dick Nixon every now & then, miss the old Athens Crowd.

  9. In our family we have a red mull and a white mull. For the red, you simply add crushed tomatoes. Scrumptuous!
    Glad to know the tradition continues to thrive in our region.

  10. Hi Kate, It’s refreshing to hear that someone as young as you is interested in making a traditional feast as close to my heart as a mull. I’m from Athens, Ga. and believe me when I tell you, You don’t have to travel very far from my area before you get that puzzled look when the subject of mull is brought up. I’ve been enjoying a good mull since I was a little boy (over 50 years). Years ago we used to have Turtle Mull and Rabbit Mull as well as Chicken Mull, but now a days it’s all about chicken. I cook up a big batch once a year for a Family get together (40 qt.) and also at Christmas to give as gifts to family, friends, and neighbors. Everyone really looks forward to it. Matter of fact, I made a small batch this week and have pigged out twice already. Your recipe is similar to mine and sounds like it would be fantastic. Your illustration pic looks devine.
    I will leave you my “small batch” recipe for comparison purposes, and thanx for helping to keep a traditional and regional dish alive! Steve

    Steve’s Chicken Mull
    Recipe makes about 1 gallon

    Ingredients
    1 large chicken (5 lb.)
    1 medium onion (finely chopped)
    2 Tablespoons salt
    1 Tablespoon black pepper
    1/2 stick butter
    1 cup sour cream
    2-12 oz. cans evaporated milk
    2 sleeves saltine crackers
    Directions
    Cover chicken with water in large pot, add 2 Tablespoons salt.
    Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender. (about 1 1/2 hours)
    Remove skin and bones, grind chicken, strain broth and return to pot.
    Add onion and black pepper, simmer uncovered (low heat) stirring frequently (about 30 min.).
    Add 2-12 oz. cans of evaporated milk, 1/2 stick butter, 1 cup sour cream and 2 sleeves saltine crackers (crushed fine).
    Continue to simmer uncovered and stir until thickened (about 15 min.) remove from heat and serve.
    *Serve with saltine crackers and Tabasco.

    • I am from Louisiana and we make all kinds of Étouffée dishes like this. Is it a sin to serve Chicken Mull over steamed white rice like Carolina Hash is served?

      • Shawn, since I’m not the expert on that, I’ll say you can serve however makes you happy. :) However, my husband might say that, yes, its a sin.

  11. Hi Kate,
    I grew up in Hogansville, a small town NE of LaGrange, in middle, western GA. Never heard of chicken mull.
    Since you are moving to Athens, please contact Christina LaFontaine, who is from LaGrange, and is in real estate.. She might be able to help you find living quarters. She and Wade live in Athens, and have a 2 yr old. She’s on Facebook.
    Elaine Lowery James

    • Elaine,

      Thanks for stopping by and checking out the recipe! Also, thanks for the tip about Ms. LaFontaine, though all my real estate needs are covered. :)

      Come back soon!
      Kate

  12. How interesting! I love hearing about foods from different areas of the US. Being a transplant in KY it’s taken me a while to find the unique foods and there are certainly a lot! :)

  13. Being from the lovly great state of Georgia and being raise on Chicken Stew or Mull for years and having it made by some of the oldest hands and finest cooks I MUST SAY that this particular “mull” was better than any other I have ate including and not limited to stews and mulls prepared by my beloved late grandmoma. And to clearify stew and mull in local terms stew has no crackers and mull does.

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