Deep. Fried. Chicken. There are no sweeter words than these when used together. (I. Love. You. is a close second, though.) Fried chicken is my all-time favorite comfort food. Not favorite food, mind you, that would be a hamburger — Dad’s hamburger to be more specific.
Growing up, fried chicken was a weekly staple. I can’t say that Mom’s fried chicken is the best I’ve ever had, but it certainly formed the basis of my comfort craving. Mom’s chicken never had the skin left on, and the skillet-fried chicken’s crust wasn’t particularly crunchy the way the best fried chicken’s crust is. I’m quite certain that’s because there was no skin, and only one layer of coating.
I’ve had two ethereal experiences with fried chicken that have left indelible marks on my psyche. Twice, I’ve eaten fried chicken where I swear I heard angels sing. The first was in the town of Crested Butte in Colorado. The restaurant (pictured) is called The Slogar, an old restaurant with even older cast-iron skillets. Their chicken isn’t deep fried, per se, but it is fried in oil deep enough to almost qualify as deep frying.
The second experience happened just last Sunday at a new restaurant in Phoenix, NOCA. Sunday Simple Sundays at NOCA feature three-course prix fixe menus, with a rotating menu. Last Sunday happened to be fried chicken night. Deep. Fried. Chicken. And I heard the angels sing. Glory, hallelujah! It’s simultaneously fortunate and unfortunate that NOCA’s fried chicken isn’t available on the regular menu every day — fortunate because I can’t afford the calories on a weekly basis, unfortunate because I want that fried chicken every week.
I never make fried chicken at home for two reasons: the aforementioned macabre caloric count and the mess. Making fried chicken is a slovenly bothersome proposition. Inevitably, flour gets all over the kitchen, copious amounts of oil splatters everywhere, and then what to do will all that left over oil? Convert it to biodiesel? I don’t have a Mercedes Benz anyway. No, it’s much better to eat fried chicken in someone else’s kitchen, especially if that kitchen happens to be in an old Victorian house in the middle of the Rockies, or in the tres chic, new restaurant on Camelback Road.