Let’s be honest. Sometimes a healthy, gourmet meal isn’t what we’re craving. There’s a reason ‘comfort food’ makes us feel good, and nothin’ says lovin’ like a fresh batch of crispy, juicy fried chicken. In spite of America’s trend toward transparency in ingredients, and healthier eating, fried chicken is hot on food trend lists, with restaurants rising to the occasion.
When you want to class up that deep fried, glorious dish with a glass of wine, don’t think of it as mission impossible. Both red and white wines pair well with fried foods, and the spicy and heat in Guchujang and Nashville Hot (this year’s food trend darlings) can complement the fruit and spice in many great wine varietals.
Here are a few of our favorite fried chicken and wine pairings that are sure to please.
Pair with a Nero d’Avola like Gulfi’s Rossojbleo 2012 from the Sicilian region of Italy. Wine is medium bodied, with nose of cherry and spice. Silky, ripe berries, and leather. A great wine (and also organic!) for anything full of flavor and spice. ($20 SRP)
- 1 1/2 Cups shredded Napa or Savoy cabbage
- 3/4 Cups Hot or mild Kimchee, chopped
- 1/2 cup shredded carrot
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1 tablespoon Gochujang (Korean chili paste) or substitute sriracha or Sambal Oelek
- 1/4 cup Mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
- 2 cups Flour
- 1 generous tablespoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half crosswise (If thick, pound the breasts to flatten)
- Vegetable oil for frying
4 sandwich rolls
1. For the slaw, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
2. For the chicken, fill a pot that will hold 2 of the chicken pieces with oil to the depth of one inch and heat over medium high to 350.
3. Stir the flour, salt and pepper together in a shallow bowl.
4. Pour the buttermilk into a small bowl.
5. When the oil is hot, dredge a piece of chicken in the flour, then dunk in the buttermilk, and dredge one more time in the flour, shaking off excess and dropping it into the oil.
6. Repeat with a second piece of chicken, adding to the hot oil.
7. The chicken should cook about 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crispy, letting them rest on a wire rack while the final chicken pieces cook in the oil.
8. Place the chicken on the bun and top with a generous amount of the Kimchee Slaw.
Prosecco also pairs well with salty, fried foods, and can enhance even the lowliest of dishes.
Try Danny Seo’s Philosophy Prosecco 2014 ($14 SRP) paired with coconut curry chicken fingers, which can be fried or oven baked to save a few calories. The persistent bubbles in this wine complement fat and butter in foods, and notes of green apple, white peach, and citrus with a slightly bitter aftertaste, it will also pair well with Thai flavors like blistered shishito peppers, and sweet hot chili sauce (hello, fried chicken dip!).
Philosophy’s Prosecco is also vegan, in case you want to skip the chicken and fry up a batch of ‘Nashville Hot’ Tofu. We like these tofu sliders with piquillo peppers and spicy aioli. Get the recipe here.
Last but certainly not least on the food trend list is Nashville Hot Chicken. No, we’re not talking KFC, but the real, hot deal, made with heaping tablespoons of pepper and spice-enough to make you unable to feel your face for a week. Wine pairings with excessively hot foods are a bit challenging, but if you’re imbibing, go for something with bubbles, and a little on the sweeter side, like a sparkling moscato. A lighter, lower alcohol content is smart when pairing with hot foods, and the chill will give your palate a break between bites.
Another great pairing for what to drink with Nashville hot chicken: try a sweet tea, spiked with a little spicy tequila and a squeeze of lemon and fresh mint.
Get the recipe for Nashville Hot Chicken here.