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Were calling 2016 the year of fried chicken, as one of the most traditional forms of crispy-salty-crunchy-spicy comfort foods (that very few of us attempt to make at home) has ventured beyond the bucket.
Fried chicken fits nicely into the fine-fast-casual eating-out trend; affordable and indulgent, it’s home cooking that’s tricky enough to give even fine dining chefs a bit of a challenge, and it’s another culinary case of what’s old is new again.
Although many of us didn’t have grandmas who fried their own chicken in lard in cast iron pans, it’s an easy notion to adopt. At Calgary’s Cluck ’n’ Cleaver, Nicole Gomes ventured beyond her catering gig, Nicole Gourmet, to join forces with her sister Francine, a former chicken farmer in the Kootenays, to bring their favourite protein to the masses. They turn out perfect fried and rotisserie chicken with hand-cut fries, potato salads, chipotle lime, black bean and corn salad, and buttermilk biscuits in a tiny stand-alone building that allows for just a few stools at a counter in the front window. They do mostly takeout, with vintage sodas, thick malts and homemade cookies to wash it all down. Cluck ‘n’ Cleaver’s fried chicken delights up close and personal.
At Juke on Keefer Street in Vancouver, owners Justin Tisdall, former GM of Chambar, former Hawksworth sous-chef Bryan Satterford and Meat and Bread co-owner Cord Jarvie have focused on fried chicken (in pieces as well as in sandwich form) as their mainstay alongside slow-cooked beef ribs, and they’ve added their own style to traditional sides like biscuits and slaw with charred corn on the cob and radishes with bacon vinaigrette. Their chicken just happens to be gluten-free, coated in a blend of potato starch and cornstarch for added crunch. The takeout window opens at 11 a.m., but the 38-seat dining room comes to life at 5, with a more extensive menu plus an array of interesting cocktails that add to the experience a platter of freshly fried chicken always brings—it’s made for sharing.
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