Courtesy of Bubba's Cooks Country
Homey, crunchy, juicy fried chicken served at Bubba's Cooks Country in Dallas.
Always a cult-worthy comfort food, fried chicken made it to the big screen this year in "The Help." Set in Jackson, Miss., during the 1960s, the film follows Emma Stone’s character, Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, as she interviews African-American maids like Minny, a renowned cook played by Octavia Spencer.
Minny swears by Crisco for her revered fried chicken, but in Jackson these days, Diann I. Alford fries some of the city’s best birds in vegetable oil at Two Sisters’ Kitchen. The restaurant, in a two-story house, opens only for lunch (every day but Saturday) and serves a buffet of soul food made with recipes culled from all the women in Alford’s family. “It’s like Sunday lunch at your grandmother’s,” she says.
Piled on Sisters’ all-you-can-eat buffet: light angel biscuits; grits and Southern sides that might include turnip greens; and corn bread salad (Alford’s mother got her to eat vegetables by adding chunks of corn bread). The one constant: “If the front door’s open, we have fried chicken,” assures Alford.
While fried chicken traces its origins to the South, innovative chefs across the country understand the innate appeal of the homey, crunchy, juicy dish.
America’s most famous fine-dining chef, Thomas Keller, has been lauded for Fried Chicken Nights at his family-style restaurant Ad Hoc in Napa Valley, Calif. Soaking the chickens in a lemony brine before frying keeps them seriously moist, but the excitement over the dish is intensified by its limited availability — it is served only every other Monday. Now that the dish is legendary, there’s a loophole: A new stand in the restaurant’s garden called Addendum sells the chicken as a boxed lunch Thursday through Saturday.
At New York’s Blue Ribbon restaurants, brothers Bruce and Eric Bromberg developed their own innovation. A matzo meal crust makes for ultra-crunchy fried chicken. The Brombergs have recently brought their signature recipe to the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas.
Now that fried-chicken plates seem to be de rigueur at hot restaurants, chefs are drilling down deeper into the fried-chicken obsession, playing around with sub-genres like chicken and waffles (served with maple-chicken jus during brunch at Washington, DC’s Birch & Barley) and the fried-chicken sandwich.
One of the most acclaimed examples can be found in Los Angeles, where Son of a Gun chefs Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook took inspiration from the sandwiches sold at Georgia-based chain Chick-fil-A and Oakland, Calif.’s Bakesale Betty. Their version comes with spicy pickle slaw, shredded lettuce and Sriracha aioli in a brioche bun.
Tell us, are you a fan of fried chicken? Who makes it best?
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