Damned if it isn’t almost as daunting to figure out the sides for fried chicken as it is to decide on a fried chicken recipe. Maybe more so.
When it comes to the chicken, you know it, and I know it: everyone’s expectations are high, and everyone has his or her own idea of exactly what fried chicken ought to be. But in the end that’s okay, because when it comes to fried chicken, the person standing at the stove, tending the hot oil, ducking and swaying to avoid splatters, is the one who gets to call the shots.
Whereas with the sides, a different dynamic takes place. That’s because everyone already has a very specific, and largely shared, notion of what should be piled alongside the platter of fried chicken. And by this I don’t just mean biscuits and coleslaw and mashed potatoes. I mean airy, barely there baking powder biscuits. Coleslaw that isn’t fettered with fennel or raisins but rather tossed with a sweetly tart, not tartly sweet, dressing that’s creamier than what Mom used to make yet not yet erring toward goopy. Mashed potatoes that are lump free and ever so slightly peppery and eons away from the strangely Styrofoam spuds that came in that KFC family pack. Maybe even a little sweet tea to wash it all down.
What people want with their fried chicken isn’t just any side. They want the consummate, iconic sides. Because if the fried chicken falls short in their esteem—but don’t worry, it won’t; not with our recipes—they have the rest of the meal to fall back on. And so with that in mind, we have solutions for you. Side dishes that satisfy yet take a few liberties, both intuitive and inspired. Let us know how it goes.—Renee Schettler Rossi