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Earning Their Wings: Fried Chicken in Unexpected Places

Earning Their Wings: Fried Chicken in Unexpected Places

Photo credit: StockFood / Keller & Keller Photography

It was inevitable, really. As the trendy food wheel spun round and round, it seemed predestined to land on “Fried Chicken” at some point.

The humble yet transcendent crispy yardbird, a staple of Southern Sunday suppers for centuries, can now be found on nearly every menu in all the land. Fancy restaurants now offer the crunchy fowl on fine china instead of grease-soaked cardboard. Buttermilk-battered breasts sidle up next to late-night waffles in hip brunch establishments. Even burger joints are required to have a “healthy” chicken sandwich for the beef-averse.

But even as the noble chicken goes fully mainstream, there are still visionaries who try to push the fried fowl into new culinary territory. Here are a few of their more notable attempts.

Buffalo Wing Cupcake

It might not take a lot of imagination to combine two trendy snack foods (“Garnish a cupcake with a wing and VOILA!”), but this oddball confection goes to the next level. Sure, this little cake is crowned with a spicy Buffalo wing, but it’s also on the savory side, and comes topped with a layer of blue-cheese icing. The brainchild of food blogger Stefani Hope Pollack, it’s almost too much to wrap your head (or tastebuds) around.

Cold Fried Chicken Pizza (Pete Zaaz Pizzeria, Brooklyn NY)

Part of the beauty of fried chicken is its culinary durability —equally delicious eaten fresh from the skillet or served as leftovers days later. The folks at Pete Zaaz bake up a decidedly nontraditional pie with curried squash sauce and stewed collard greens and top it with shredded fried chicken thighs and a garnish of Thai pickled peppers for added zing.

Fried Chicken Wrist Corsage (KFC, Louisville KY)

KFC (the folks who brought you the “fried chicken bun” debacle known as the Double Down) teamed up with a local florist to wrap a drumstick in a little baby’s breath to create a prom night standout that’s almost too strange to contemplate. The mere EXISTENCE of this Southern-fried fashion accessory brings up so many questions — many of them uncomfortable, some unanswerable. Among them: Should one snack BEFORE or AFTER the first dance? Is the single chicken piece for sharing, or is there a matching boutonniere? Is this the way the Colonel wooed Mrs. Sanders? (And the eternal question: What on earth?)

Fried Chicken Beignets (Glazed Donut Bistro, West Hollywood CA)

This savory specialty has two layers of “fried” going on — a boneless chunk of fried chicken breast stuffed inside a pillowy hunk of fried dough, then dipped in a hot maple/mustard sauce, if that’s your kinda thing. Follow it with something sweet— a peanut-butter-and-jelly-glazed donut named after President Jimmy Carter, perhaps?