Chicken Skin Belongs On The Chicken, Not On The Plate

Categories: Food News

Chicken Scratch_2.jpg
Catherine Downes
For this week's review I checked out Chicken Scratch and the Foundry, a one two punch in Oak Cliff that will certainly draw big crowds all summer long. The space is amazing, and I found myself hanging out there way longer than was required to evaluate the food.

Chef Tim Byres uses bold flavors in his new chicken shack. Sweetness is a reoccurring theme found in slightly sugary fries and honey-drizzled chicken. Collard greens are amazing, smoky and bright; crackling gravy is addictive; the mac and cheese is great; but the chicken gave me pause.

Fried chicken is not healthy. It never ever will be. But frying technique, oil temperature and other variables have a big impact on how much fat you end up consuming when you pound a drumstick. A few of the breast portions I received at Chicken Scratch had torn skin that either stuck to the bottom of the pan or blew out in the hot oil. That tear let oil in between the skin and flesh, leading to unnecessarily greasy chicken.

The skin didn't stay put, either -- sloughing off in sheets and ruining that delicate balance of salty crunchy skin and juicy flesh that makes each bite of fried chicken so damn addictive. I talked to Byres about the issue, and it could be his storage method. He lets the chicken rest a little before serving it to his guests and steam can build up beneath the skin while it sits. Shallow frying is also a finicky method of producing chicken and is prone to inconsistencies.

I asked if he was working on a fix to the problem, but I'm not sure he agreed it was a problem. Byres was apologetic but in the end said "I'm just trying to fry chicken, man." I wish it wasn't so damn flavorful. Every time I checked out The Foundry, I found myself dipping into Chicken Scratch for at least a quarter bird, hoping the skin issue would resolve itself. For now though, I've had my fill.

Or not. It's such a great place for a beer.

Location Info

Chicken Scratch

2303 Pittman St., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

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11 comments
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Mervis
Mervis

My Mom used to shallow fry chicken and some nights it was the best food ever made and some nights not so much. I always attributed the discrepancies to the amount of martinis that were consumed before dinner was served.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano

My sympathies for anyone trying to fry a lot of chicken.  First, oil temperature is critically important; does Byres use thermometers to control temperature?  I would not be surprised if his oil temperature was inconsistent because of the continual introduction of cold, new chicken.

Rest time after dredging in flour is equally important.  If the dredged chicken pieces rest for more than 3 minutes the flour becomes pasty. 

Last, chicken cooking temperature has a huge effect on the skin.  Normally one cooks the chicken up to about 165 degrees, but this does not allow the batter and skin to adhere well to the meat.  Raising the chicken to 180-185 will help prevent the skin and crust from slipping off. 

Byrne should know these things and probably does.  I am guessing the production requirements of the restaurant prevent him from managing these factors consistently.

Yeah, we we are all just trying to fry some chicken, man, but only a few manage to do it well.

Thx for the review.  I hope Byres gets the kinks out of his recipe.

wes cox
wes cox

They use thermometers.

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

PT,    You continue to amaze me.......are you in my head?  That comment was actually better (sorry Scott) than the article. 

Coleman
Coleman

The Foundry is great, but man Chicken Scratch kinda sucks. It's inconsistent and even when the food is good, it still comes off a little bland and dry for me.

Guest
Guest

Did I go on an off night?  The roast chicken was dry as a bone as was the biscuit, the side salad was about three lettuce leaves, and the pricing was insulting.  Bold flavors on piece of leather makes for boldly flavored leather.

McDoom
McDoom

"Chef Tim Byres uses bold flavors..."

Karl Welzein is excited to try some of that chicken, you guys.

Jon from TJs
Jon from TJs

went memorial day, had a great meal.  has anyone tried to pecan smoked rotisserie yet?

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