Keeping chickens has become a city dweller’s dream. Every morning my neighbor’s chickens fuss and cluck, keeping me company while I peck away at the keyboard. Isn’t it about time to retire the bald eagle as the national bird and replace it with what surely must be our favorite bird, the humble chicken?
Chicken is also a perennial on restaurant menus, with chefs preparing it every which way. When I go out, I’m partial to two ways of cooking the bird: on a wood-fired rotisserie or fried. Why mess up my own kitchen making fried chicken when I can go out for one as good as and quite possibly better than I could make at home?
At the bustling new brasserie that replaced Campanile, if there’s one star dish on the menu, it’s Walter Manzke’s rotisserie chicken. He built the kitchen around the wood grill and rotisserie, in fact. And that piece of equipment does him proud with Mary’s organic rotisserie chicken served with braised black kale and fingerling potatoes roasted in — what else? — chicken fat. He does brine the chicken beforehand, but the cooking is pretty straightforward. One order is enough for two to share with a bottle from sommelier Taylor Parsons’ intriguing list. Oh, and for something extra, get the “white salad” of cauliflower, endive and fennel.
624 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (310) 362-6115, http://www.republiquela.com. Spit-roasted chicken, $29.
At the two Plan Check locations (soon to be three), chef Ernesto Uchimura serves his smoky fried chicken two ways: as a sandwich or as an entrée. At lunch, love that subtly smoky fried chicken stacked high between two buns with duck breast ham, green pimento cheese and pickles. At dinner, have it with smoked milk gravy, spicy pickled okra and yam preserves. You might want to start with the baby kale “Caesar” and finish things off with those dreamy cooked-to-order cruller doughnuts. Oh, throw in a yuzu or tangerine house-made soda too.
1800 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 288-6500 and 351 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, (310) 288-6500, http://www.plancheck.com. Southern fry sandwich, $11; smoky fried chicken, $13.
Bouchon Beverly Hills
OK, now, if you’re really into fried chicken, you can’t do much better than Thomas Keller’s famous Ad Hoc fried chicken dinner. When he opened Bouchon in Beverly Hills, he introduced it as an occasional special. Now it’s got a regular schedule, the first and third Monday. The deep golden pieces of fried chicken burst with juices. The secret? The bird is brined and then dredged in seasoned flour, buttermilk and more flour before it’s fried in peanut or canola oil. The sides change from time to time but go something like this: cheddar biscuits, mac ‘n’ cheese and red wine-braised cabbage.
235 N. Cañon Drive, Beverly Hills, (310) 271-9910, http://www.bouchonbistro.com. Buttermilk fried chicken first and third Mondays, $38 per person. Takeout too.
S. Irene Virbila