Southern food, despite persistent stereotypes, is about so much more than fried chicken. We revel in Louisiana gumbos and Lowcountry pilaus, oysters from Apalachicola and apple stack cake from the Appalachians. But let’s face it: We do love our browned bird, and our cooks excel at it. The seeming simplicity of fried chicken makes it a culinary tabula rasa open to interpretation. There are the basic variances: White meat or dark? Pan-fried or deep-fried? Marinated in buttermilk, brined, both, or seasoned only with salt and pepper? More broadly, though, the dish’s universality allows it to preen in every facet of our restaurant culture—from obscure soul food joints to white tablecloth pantheons, and at time-honored cafes as well as mom-and-pops that reflect the gamut of global cuisines arriving in our region. In the gospel of bird, we can honor tradition and herald change equally. This is our snapshot of Southern fried chicken right now, in all its many fine-feathered guises….
FEARING’S | Dallas, Texas
At Sunday brunch, Dean Fearing turns out his granny’s “paper bag shook” cast-iron skillet-fried chicken. The chicken, brined in apple cider and coated with a gossamer crust, sidles up to whipped potatoes, long-simmered bacony green beans, and luscious smoked tomato gravy. Ask to sit in the Sendero, the restaurant’s romantic, glass-walled room perfect for a languid meal. fearingsrestaurant.com
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