What, precisely, constitutes great fried chicken? Dale Talde, the chef behind a trio of popular Brooklyn restaurants, whose double fried chicken has transformed him into a poultry titan, cites three simple — but frequently unmet — components: "If it's fried, it's gotta be crunchy. If it's chicken, it's gotta be moist. Like all food, it has to be seasoned correctly. If it's meant to be hot, it has to be hot," he said. "Those things never change."
What's the best Talde has ever had? "I love me some Popeyes [Louisiana Kitchen]," he said, noting that it was an inspiration for him. "It's pressure-fried, so it's always juicy. It's seasoned very well, even if it does have some MSG in it. My secret to fried chicken — and you can see it in Popeyes — has always been black pepper." The difference between success and failure, he said, can be how much of it is in the dredge or batter.
Who makes the best fried chicken? It might be your grandma or the place up the street that nobody else knows about. But for our money, these are the places where you can never go wrong.