John Dillinger's Last Meal of Fried Chicken & Gravy
As John Dillinger watched a rain of bullets leaving the Tommy gun Baby Face Nelson was wielding and heading towards policeman Howard Wagner, I believe he knew his time was coming to an end.
As the .45 bullets ripped across South Michigan Avenue from the Indiana Merchant's National Bank in the direction of a cowering, rookie police officer, Dillinger had decided this was the last bank robbery he wanted to pull off.
Howard Wagner was struck through the neck and chest by Nelson and pronounced dead at the scene. This was the cherry on the icing on the top of the FBI cake which the public now succumbed to wanting a slice.
During the depression-era times, John Dillinger had been glorified by the national press as a suave, quick-witted, Robin Hood figure who was taking back from the terrible banks. The terrible banks whom were foreclosing mortgages on defenceless debtors who were slowly sinking into the cess-pit of squalor during the 1930s.
However with the increase in violence during the heists, and with several innocent bystanders & policemen being assassinated by John Dillinger and his crew, he had gradually lost his likeable persona that the press had played up to the public just months before. Most of the public had now accepted Dillinger for what he was ; a blood-thirsty thief. Some of the public however hated Ana Cumpanas and the FBI for not taking Dillinger alive but most agreed, along with the FBI, that his time was up.
As John Dillinger departed a cinema in Chicago on a warm Summer's night, still in hiding and still named Public Enemy Number 1, Federal agents pursued him into an alleyway and sent a bullet flying through the back of his neck, exiting under his right eye, swiftly ending the bank robber's life and story.
He was betrayed by a brothel owner named Ana Cumpanas, a friend of Dillinger's girlfriend, and hours before she slipped on a red dress to inform the FBI outside the cinema that she was the lady on the phone accompanying Dillinger, she cooked him Fried Chicken & Gravy which is what we're recreating this week on The Last Supper.
If you'd like to know more about the life & crimes of bank robber John Dillinger - please scroll down after the recipe.
1 Full Chicken
400g of Plain Flour
1 tbsp Oregano
1 tbsp Paprika
1 tbsp Ground Ginger
1 tbsp Garlic Powder
1 tbsp Ground Cumin
2 tbsp Salt
2 tbsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2L of Vegetable Oil (Or any oil of your choice)
50g Salted Butter
300ml Chicken Stock
50ml Soy Sauce
1. Break the Chicken down into 8 pieces (2 Thighs, 2 Legs, and 4 cuts from the breast).
2. Tip 350g of the Flour into a wide tin and season with the spices - mix until homogenous
3. Whisk the eggs into a wide bowl (not a narrow one if you're an idiot like me)
4. Dip your chicken pieces in the flour, then into the eggs and then back into the flour until they are evenly and completed coated and leave to one side.
5. Heat your oil to 180 degrees/350F and lay the chicken away from you into the hot oil
6. Fry for around 12-15 minutes or until a deep golden brown like pictured below or in the video
7. Remove from the oil once a desired colour and leave to cool on a draining rack
8. Melt the butter in a pan of your choice and once bubbling, add the flour 1 tbsp at a time, whisking immediately, until you have achieved a yellow-looking roux
9. Once the flour and butter is fully incorporated, slowly add the chicken stock, again whisking immediately, and when homogenous add soy sauce for desired colour and taste, follow by black pepper and simmer for 3-4 minutes
10. Pour gravy into a jar, over your chicken or directly into your mouth - it's your choice
11. Enjoy! PS. If a famous Bank Robber or on the run from the law and a brothel owner named Ana serves you this dish, please keep an eye out for agents who might be after you.
The Life & Crimes of John Dillinger
One of the most famous bank robbers ever, John Dillinger gained a reputation as a slick-dressing, sharp-shooting thief who was named Public Enemy Number 1 by J. Edgar Hoover in 1934.
He learnt his trade in Indiana State Prison where he was sent aged 21, in 1924 after being indicted for assault and attempted robbery, receiving a harsh sentence and wasn’t released until 1933 - some say it was this harsh punishing which sparked Dillinger’s lust for revenge.
Whilst in prison, he would spend time around seasoned career criminals and bank robbers. Barely an adult, Dillinger absorbed this knowledge and aged 30 he was released during the worst of the Great Depression. Without any intentions of securing legitimate employment, almost overnight John Dillinger became a Robin Hood National Hero.
Successfully hitting 5 banks in 3 months, the numerous murders, assaults and intimidations during his hold-ups were overlooked by the national press. Instead the played Dillinger up as suave, daring, likeable character who was taking back from the ‘evil’ banks who had been foreclosing mortgages on helpless debtors who were suffering poverty and squalor during the harsh times of the 1930s.
In one well-documented, front-page event. During a heist the customers inside the bank at the time also surrendered what little money they had on them to John Dillinger and his crew. When Dillinger seen this he informed the cowering customers ‘Put that away, we’re not here for your money, we’re here for the bank’s money.’ This gained him the Robin Hood reputation and amplified his national heroic persona.
Dillinger and his crew became a challenge and a difficulty for law enforcement. Often crossing state lines and with conflicts between police jurisdiction he avoided capture for months.
Eventually however, Dillinger was apprehended in Arizona, when a resident became suspicious of a group of males and females renting a very expensive beach-side resort and noticed tommy guns inside the property.
He was arrested and sent back to Indiana, and held in the apparent ‘unescapable’ Crown Point Jail - which is where Dillinger would perform his most famous exploit.
He carved a wooden gun and blackened it with shoe polish, later using it to break out of the
heavily guarded prison, steal the Sheriff’s car and cruise safely to Chicago to meet up with his sweetheart Billie Frechette. This received national attention from the press and he was loved even more.
After a few more robberies & shootouts with Melvin Purvis and his G-Men, Dillinger’s allies were either dead or in jail. Billie was in police custody and with no other options left, he attempted to disappear.
Hiding out in brothels and having plastic surgery done, John laid low, staying at a brothel owned by Ana Cumpanas, a friend of his girlfriend, Billie.
Ana Cumpanas feared deportation back to her native Romania and struck a deal to hand Dillinger over to the authorities.
On July 22nd 1934, John asked Ana and a prostitute called Polly to accompany him to a showing of Manhattan Melodrama at the Chicago Biograph Theatre, to which they agreed.
Ana suggested that she cook them some fried chicken before they attend, and excusing herself from the brothel to purchase some butter for the chicken, she rang Melvin Purvis and confirmed the whereabouts of John, herself and Polly later that night. She agreed to where an orange dress to help the law enforcement identify the group in which Dillinger would be accompanied by, gaining her the nickname ‘The Lady in Red’.
Dillinger left the Biograph after the viewing and walked into the signs of waiting Federal agents. After being pursued down an alleyway, and attempting to reach for his weapon, John Dillinger was gunned down. One bullet entered through the back of his neck and exited under his right eye, this was deemed to be the fatal blow.
Ana Cumpanas became a hated figure, as did the the image of law enforcement for killing the nation’s sweetheart Robin Hood, and not taking him alive.