There’s something transformative about fried chicken — how the bird is bathed and battered before it’s plunged into the fryer, only to emerge crispy and succulent and a gorgeous golden color. In fact, like the rest of New York, we’re more than a little obsessed.
For decades, chef Charles Gabriel has diligently tended to the fried chicken that he cooks stovetop in a wide fry pan; the chicken emerges delicate and crisp, cooked to perfection. His unique method is so well known that when he reopened his Harlem restaurant last fall, he named it Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken. A meal at this Harlem institution includes all-you-can-eat chicken and a buffet of colorful sides such as collard greens, candied yams and black-eyed peas.
2839 Frederick Douglass Blvd., btwn. W. 151st and W. 152nd sts., (212) 281-1800
(+) Chef Gabriel also cooks for Fried Chicken Fridays at Aretsky’s Patroon in Midtown (160 E. 46th St., btwn. Lexington and Third aves., 212-883-7373).
THE NEW KFC
Unlike its American counterpart, the two-step frying technique of Korean-style fried chicken (KFC) assures that the wings and drumsticks are shorn of any loose batter crumbles — priming the crispy, paper-thin skin to be painted with either an addictive garlic-soy glaze or firey hot sauce. Korean chain BonChon Chicken recently opened new locations in Midtown and the Financial District, making it even easier to get your fix.
207 W. 38th St., btwn. Seventh and Eighth aves, (212) 221-3339. See bonchon.com for additional locations.
(+) Another popular Korean chain, KyoChon, opens its first Manhattan location soon at 319 Fifth Ave., at 32nd St., no phone yet
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BUTTERMILK
Buttermilk is an essential component to any Southern-style fried chicken recipe — the creamy, slightly sour dairy byproduct absorbs the flour dredge that ultimately becomes that irresistible craggy, crunchy coating. The Redhead‘s rendition — which features a dark, golden crust with reef-like undulations and chicken that is fall-off-the-bone tender — catapulted this East Village locals’ spot into the national spotlight.
349 E. 13th St., btwn First and Second aves., (212) 533-6212
(+) Another chicken worth trying: Buttermilk Channel’s fried chicken, which undergoes a a 24-hour buttermilk soak. (524 Court St., at Huntington St., Carroll Gardens, 718-852-8490)
CHICKEN LITTLE (BITS)
Chefs are giving the fried chicken treatment to all parts of the chicken and pairing them with vibrant, unusual garnishes. At Tipsy Parson in Chelsea, an appetizer of chicken fried chicken livers comes with green tomato relish, microgreens and housemade rosemary bread. The pungent, dense organ meat smeared onto the toast and topped with a dab of relish, some crispy batter and a few greens makes for a perfect bite.
156 Ninth Ave., btwn. W. 19th and W. 20th sts., 212-620-4545
(+) The fried chicken drumettes (the small, fleshy parts of the chicken wing) at Umi Nom in Bed-Stuy are served with fish sauce, lime juice and Anaheim peppers. (433 Dekalb Ave., nr. Classon Ave., 718-789-8806)
NEW BIRD IN TOWN
The city’s most notable new fried chicken plate might be at Choptank, a mid-Atlantic-styled restaurant in the West Village. The dish starts with a poussin from a North Carolina purveyor that raises their birds according to strict Label Rouge standards. An overnight brine in buttermilk and a cornmeal-flour batter returns superb results: a thick, golden crust clings to crisp, translucent skin; the meat is sweet and succulent.
310 Bleeker St., btwn 7th Ave S. and Grove St., 212-675-2009
(+) The Williamsburg shop that inspired a dozen imitations, Pies n’ Thighs, reopens soon at its new location. (166 S. 4th St. at Driggs Ave., no phone yet)