One restaurant’s secret ingredient for crispy fried chicken

buttermilk fried chicken in paper boat
Chef Angie Mar’s dish; Buttermilk Fried Chicken with blueberries and garlic confit on display
Photo: Monica Schipper / Stringer (Getty Images)

Pandemic or not, fried chicken has always been one of my favorite takeout foods. I usually get a large order, eat so much I feel like I’ll never want it again, then immediately miss it once it’s all gone. Whether or not I get a crispy batch can be somewhat of a crapshoot, depending on how long it’s been sitting in the takeout container before I show up.

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TASTE has a story about a restaurant called Pecking House in New York City, where chef Eric Huang marries the concept of Nashville Hot Chicken with Chinese five-spice and Taiwanese fried chicken, an idea I find intriguing. But to combat the pesky sogginess of chicken that’s been sauced, Huang leans on an ingredient that I hadn’t heard of until today: EverCrisp.

You can buy EverCrisp from Modernist Pantry if you’d like to try using it at home. The trick is that EverCrisp is a dextrin, which is explained on the Bob’s Red Mill website better than I could ever hope to describe it. Dextrin absorbs less oil from cooking, plus it doesn’t have gluten due to the EverCrisp manufacturing process. Gluten absorbs moisture that leaches out during cooking, eventually causing a soggy crust. So you’ve got a one-two punch of science helping you keep your fried food crispy for longer.

Modernist Pantry suggests you replace 20% of your flour in wet batter or dry coating with EverCrisp to keep your fried items crunchy—and that goes for non-fried-chicken foods too, like onion rings. Huang uses EverCrisp to his advantage, incorporating it into a buttermilk paste that eventually forms the crust on his chicken. He must be doing something right, as his waitlist at Pecking House is a mind-boggling 6,000 people. He provides TASTE with his recipe, so if you’re curious about this pantry ingredient, give Huang’s version a spin. I know I’ll be trying it sometime soon.

Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.

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“One restaurant’s secret ingredient for crispy fried chicken”

Honestly the way that headline was leaning I thought the secret ingredient was going to be something like ground glass or iron filings...nope just food science.