Since moving to Charlotte, NC last year I have had a love affair with the way Southerners embrace their Southern Fried ways. Now I am no stranger to good fried food; I am from Barberton, Ohio after all, the Fried Chicken Capital of the World. But, let me tell you, chefs in this town take fried to a new level. I am not talking about the State Fair, throw anything into a fryer variety, I am talking seriously delish goods.
Probably my favorite fried treat is the pickle, yes I know that is nothing new, I have had them before, but there are enough fried pickles in this town to warrant their own story, more on that another day. So let’s discuss my second favorite bit of deep fried goodness – chicken skins. Yes, you read that right, chicken skins. So if you are like me, you are thinking, what is that, some type of updated chicken tender, or maybe wing? Nope, it is exactly what it sounds like. Imagine getting a nice piece of fried chicken, you like that crunchy skin part, but the non-crispy underside completely ruins that delicious crust side…no worries here…this is deeply crispy on both sides, genius!
Our first foray into this was at a local spot called Bonterra. I will not lie, I was a bit hesitant when the skins arrived at our table. Remember, I was thinking I was ordering some kind of chicken tender, and there was no meat to be found. Lightly battered, super crisp, not at all greasy, paired with 2 types of dipping sauces, a spicy homemade buffalo type sauce and a cool creamy blue cheese dip, I was sold.
Up next, a hipster lovers paradise, Soul Gastrolounge. Here they were not messing around, with their Dirty South Nachos. Fried chicken skin “chips” covered in creamy pimento cheese dip. Pimento cheese is great on anything, so this was just added bonus, and C. Smith was pretty happy with the pickled okra that accompianed these nachos.
I happened to catch wind that another local spot The Peculiar Rabbit also had chicken skins on the menu, so last Saturday I was set on having a little lunch there and rounding a trio of tastings. Much to my dismay, brunch was being served and the skins were not available until 3:00. So a walk around the neighborhood and a few beers later, we finally layed eyes on their version. Again a completely different presentation, not breaded at all, but more like a pork rind, light airy and very crisps. Here it is served with a light aioli sauce or you can have your skins tossed in a flavored wing sauce.
Needless to say I am still finding my way around this fried food lovers paradise I have encountered here in Charlotte, and cannot wait to see what other goodies are in store for me here, stay tuned…