|By Joe Torok|
Quinney’s serves ’good food and the Good Word’As devout Christians, Vickie and Mack Quinney believe in a second life. After Vickie took a buyout offer from General Motors, though, the couple has gotten a jump on paradise with a new soul food eatery in south Lansing.
Quinney’s Southern Soul Food found a home in an old strip mall on Cedar Street. just north of Holmes Road.After 24 years of laboring at the now-shuttered Fisher Body plant, Vickie says long days with her husband (the pair have no other employees) are a breeze.
Vickie’s parents are natives of Alabama, products of the Deep South who migrated north yet kept their cooking heritage intact. The family spent time cooking together, and Vickie decided to continue the legacy through her new restaurant.
“My mother taught us all how to cook. We were always in the kitchen, and she taught us ingredient by ingredient,” she said.
Soul food means different things to different people, but Vickie and Mack try to stress one claim in particular when selling their product: It’s healthier fried food.
The Quinneys have adopted the Broaster Brand as their stock in trade and boast its merits enthusiastically. Instead of simple deep-frying, broiling or roasting, Quinney’s broasts. In the kitchen, two broasters, which look a bit like top-load ing, metallic pottery kilns, sport circular openings on top.
Chicken, catfish, fries, okra and onion rings are placed into the canola oil-filled broaster. (Canola oil is lower in saturated fat than peanut oil, which many restaurants use to deep-fry.) The top is closed and latched and a combination of pressure cooking and deep frying — pressure-frying — makes for moist morsels of meat.
A four-piece chicken dinner ($7.95) comes with two sides and a soda. Not one bite of chicken could be described as dry, even through the thickest meat of the breast.
A similar broasting smoker, which uses hickory wood chips, cooks ribs under pressure. The mild sauce won’t knock your socks off, but the rib meat is plenty tender.
The soul food really hits an authentic stride with the sides. While Mack handles the broasting, Vickie supervises a small oven, where she whips up fried corn, okra and collard greens. The collard greens, made with aromatics and a bit of smoked turkey, are savory and a little bit wet — perfect for sopping with homemade cornbread.
As a kid, Vickie made fried corn with her mom by shucking maize from a husk. For the fast service customers expect, she can’t be so laborintensive, but she does guard the spicy fried corn recipe like a mama bear.
Mack is stoic, but when asked how to describe his business, he said, “Folks can come here for good food and the Good Word,” referring to his Christian beliefs.
Vickie concurs. “We promote Jesus and our church,” she says. Asked if she ever worries that their proclivity to evangelize as they serve up meals might turn off non- Christians, or even those not so fervent in their faith, Vickie smiles.
“I don’t pressure anybody — they’re going to believe or not believe," Vickie says. "I offer them to come to our church, but if they don’t want to that’s fine: I still say ‘God bless you.’”