Serious Eats

Snapshots from New Orleans: Willie Mae's Fried Chicken Is Still Awesome

Note: I went to New Orleans with a group of bloggers as part of a trip with the Lousiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. We ate and ate, and then ate some more. What else would food bloggers in Nola do? Stay tuned all this week for snapshots from my trip!Chichi

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[Photographs: Chichi Wang]

Willie Mae's Scotch House

2401 St Ann Street, New Orleans LA 70119 (map); 504-822-9503‎

It's been a while since we stopped to rave about the seriously good fried chicken from Willie Mae's Scotch House in New Orleans. Back in 2008, Ed called it "perhaps the finest fried chicken on the planet," and he doesn't toss around compliments like that lightly. Especially when it comes to fried chicken.

Quick backstory, as explained by Ed:

The Scotch House, pride and joy of both its octogenarian owner, Willie Mae Seaton, as well as anyone who appreciates perfect fried bird, had been flooded and basically destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. Thanks to the Herculean efforts of the Southern Foodways Alliance, however, it had been rebuilt and is now being run by Willie Mae's great-granddaughter, Kerry Seaton.

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While in New Orleans recently—on a stifling 100-degree day, mind you—I trekked from the French Quarter to the fifth ward for Willie Mae's. That's how good this fried chicken was supposed to be.

And it didn't disappoint. I really have never had more delicious fried chicken. The skin is unlike any I've ever tasted, both crunchy and light with the melt-in-your-mouth quality of lacy tempura.

When I first bit into the skin, I thought of pork rinds—that same sort of airy crispiness, full of oil and meaty flavor. The skin gives way to the juiciest chicken meat I've eaten in a while: the breast meat is tender and the dark meat is so flavorful and assertively salted that each bite is almost as good as the last.

You can order the plates of fried chicken with sides, which are good and large enough to be entrees all their own. Don't miss the red beans and rice—the red beans are creamy and cooked with chunks of smoked ham. The butter beans, though not quite as flavorful as their red friends, are just as creamy with a distinctive sweetness.

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