Top: Trending now, the “gourmet” fried chicken sandwich. This one is from Shake Shack. Bottom: Hold the bun and do something special, like the fried chicken with micro corn muffins and honey butter (for the chicken, not the biscuits) at Honey Butter Fried Chicken | Chicago.
According to Flavor & The Menu, a trends magazine for chefs, a new wave of fried chicken is popping up from coast to coast.
Much of it is in the form of a gourmet fried chicken sandwich: brined, deftly seasoned, often with antibiotic-free chickens sourced from family farms. It’s a far cry from Chick-Fil-A.
“Gourmet” (our word) doesn’t refer to an elegant ambiance or fancy plating. Rather, it’s an approach to fried chicken that uses top ingredients, including interesting buns and condiments.
THE NEW TAKE ON FRIED CHICKEN
In Manhattan, food trendsetter David Chang has opened Fuku, with a focus on fried chicken sandwiches. For his Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich, chicken thighs are marinated in habanero purée, coated in buttermilk, dredged in a spice blend, fried, then placed inside a steamed potato roll with pickles and Fuku butter (butter spiked with fermented chickpeas).
For a limited time, Shake Shack, with multiple locations in New York and elsewhere, is offering Chick’n Shack, a crispy hormone-free, antibiotic-free, cage-free chicken breast sandwich with lettuce, pickles and buttermilk mayonnaise on a potato roll (top photo).
Honey Butter Fried Chicken in Chicago double-batters buttermilk fried chicken and tops the crispy skin with smoked paprika salt. The chicken is served with honey butter to slather on the chicken, as well as teeny corn muffin bits (second photo).
At The Crack Shack in San Diego, fried chicken is served with global-accented sauces such as harissa chimichurri and kimchi barbecue. The sandwich is served on a house-baked English muffin.
At Birds & Bubbles on New York’s Lower East Side, the Chicken & Egg Biscuit is marinated in buttermilk and served with deviled egg sauce and a dill pickle. You can also have Birdies In A Blanket, a re-imagined approach to chicken and waffles. The chicken is coated in waffle batter before frying. Out of the fryer, it’s then sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. (What, no maple syrup?)
At Arlen’s Chicken in Evanston, Illinois, a bucket of small pieces of fried chicken comes with either potato tots or crispy biscuits and a choice of three sauces: honey butter, Sriracha honey or Oh So Hot (which includes Scotch bonnets, ghost peppers and red finger chiles). The sandwich version starts with a toasted housemade biscuit, topped with cheddar cheese, a fried chicken thigh, sauce, bread-and-butter pickles, lettuce and tomato. With deference to fried chicken lovers who still want something good-for-you, you can have your chicken and sauce served atop a green salad.