From Nashville hot to Pacific Rim panko-crusted, there’s one thing we can agree on when it comes to fried chicken: we want it—now.
So does Food Network South Beach and New York City Wine & Food Festival founder Lee Brian Schrager. Last June he took his “Cluck Team” (writer Adeena Sussman, photographer Evan Sung, trusty right hand “wing” CJ Tropp) on the ultimate comfort food road trip to search out America’s best fried chicken and side dishes. They sampled more than 150 recipes in 13 different cities along the way, compiling the results into Fried & True (Clarkson Potter).
“A fried chicken road trip may not be the healthiest journey,” says Schrager, but damn if it isn’t “one of the tastiest.”
What he discovered is that there’s no more Southern ghetto for this crispy bird. From both hole-in-the-wall restaurants and white table-cloth establishments, chefs and consumers have embraced this dish’s humble roots while also managing to bring all sorts of ethnicities and regional specialties to bear.
Today, fried chicken can hold its own in any state and any style of the union. Here are 10 of Schrager’s favorites to prove it.
Cochon - New Orleans, Louisiana
What: Sunday Night Fried Chicken and Lake Charles Dirty Rice. Prepared just the way that chef Donald Link’s granny used to make it, this chicken-in-rice stunner is a frequent special at this famed New Orleans restaurant. The open kitchen at Cochon boasts an enviable collection of cast iron vessels, used nightly to prepare Link’s modern-traditional take on Cajun cooking.
Arnold’s Country Kitchen - Nashville, Tennessee
What: Chicken Livers, Braised Turnip Greens, and Fried Green Tomatoes. A line forms outside the long, narrow brick “meat-and-three” mainstay—customers choose a meat main with three sides—long before Arnold’s Country Kitchen opens its doors at 10:30 a.m. daily. Arnold’s fried chicken, served with braised turnip greens and fried green tomatoes, is to die for. There is no reason food this simple should taste this good.
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