Wednesday, April 13, 2011

NY Fried Chicken Tripleheader

We didn't really plan this one out. It just sorta happened. Three new-school New York fried chicken meals in under 24 hours.

1. Hill Country Chicken

We were on our way to meet a friend for bbq at Hill Country, when we happened to pass Hill Country's latest venture: Hill Country Chicken. We had a few minutes to spare, and, yeah, we were just about to chow down on some serious brisket, smoked sausage, ribs, green bean casserole, baked beans (with burnt ends), and a whole whack of other sides, but, hey, there's always room for an extra piece of fried chicken, right? And the good folks at Hill Country were all too happy to sell us just a couple drumsticks, one made according to each of their house recipes--Hill Country Classic or Mama El's--so we sat down for a minute and dug into our pre-bbq fried chicken mini-sampler.

hill country chicken fig. a: a tale of two chickens

On the right, you see the Hill Country Classic style, which comes skin-on and double-dredged in a traditional flour-based mixture. On the left, you see the Mama El's style, which comes skinless and dredged in a cracker crumb mixture.

hill country gnawing fig. b: whole lotta gnawing 1

We went in thinking we were definitely going to be Hill Country Classic people, but we actually preferred the Mama El's style. Both were tasty and juicy, but somehow the lighter touch on the Mama El's let the spices shine through a little more brightly.

The vibe? Hill Country (the original) is already about as themed ("CENTRAL TEXAS!") as I can possibly handle. Hill Country Chicken is essentially a themed ("DOWNHOME!"), upscale fast food joint that specializes in tasty, high-quality fried chicken and some handsome-looking pies. I couldn't see myself going there a lot (for one thing, it's really, really BRIGHT!), but they know how to fry up a chicken.

2. Pies 'n' Thighs

There was a lot less serendipity involved when it came to Pies 'n' Thighs. We pretty much targeted the place. I'd been to the old Pies 'n' Thighs years ago, but Michelle had never had the pleasure. We were very curious about their new location, and, after the previous night's fried chicken snack, we had a hankering for some more fried chicken--this time, by the box. And Pies 'n' Thighs was all too happy to oblige.

fried chicken box! fig. c: fried chicken box!

The fried chicken only comes in one style at Pies 'n' Thighs: delicious! No, seriously, their style is in the "classic" vein, but our friends at P 'n' T have a most unconventional way of achieving this style: dry rub, brine, rinse, plain flour dredge, fry.

more gnawing fig. d: whole lotta gnawing 2

The overall effect is fantastic: the bird is juicy, it's packed with flavor, it has a satisfying amount of crust, but the crust is wispy enough to give the impression of being light. That's a good thing, because their box is super-generous, and you're going to want to eat it all. It also means that you shouldn't have any difficulties putting away their tasty biscuit. And it may just mean that you'll actually have just enough room for a slice of one of their killer pies. May we recommend the deep-dish apple pie with cheddar? You will not be disappointed.

fresh apple pie fig. e: the sign says it all

Want to learn to make fried chicken the Pies 'n' Thighs way? Check out their appearance on The Martha Stewart Show's "comfort food show," where they appeared alongside Luke Perry (?).

3. Terroir

These are our kind of people. Their wine selection is wonderfully/maniacally curated, they're crazy (literally) about Rieslings, they know how to make the joint jump, and when it comes time to raise money for Japanese earthquake & tsunami relief, they serve up portions of yummy Yoshi Fried Chicken, a Japanese fried chicken recipe devised by Yoshi, one of their cooks.

That's what I call KFC: Karmic Fried Chicken.

Check 'em out!

Fried Chicken 411:

Hill Country Chicken, 1123 Broadway (Corner of 25th), New York, NY, (212) 257-6446

Pies 'n' Thighs, 166 S.4th Street (@Driggs), Brooklyn, NY, (347) 529-6090 for deliveries

Terroir, 413 E. 12th St., New York, NY (no phone)



andrea said...

You might be interested in this article, in which a place called Peels is the winner:

aj kinik said...

thanks for the link, Andrea,
like I said, we didn't set out to do a fried chicken tour, but, by the looks of it, we might have to the next time we're in nyc