The issue of cold fried chicken can be a divisive one to say the least. More than once it has tested the resolve of my marital vows. See, I'm firmly on the cold fried chicken is awesome camp. Like pizza, it acquires something during an overnight stay on the counter or fridge that fresh-out-of-the-fryer chicken lacks. The extra-chickeny flavor of the breading, which softens to a stuffing-like texture. The dense bite of cold chicken meat, totally different form the slippery meat that comes off in shreds from hot chicken.
Would I ever pick cold chicken over hot fried chicken? Not really. But there's room in the world for both.
My wife disagrees. She's of the mind that unless you eat skin while its hot, you are wasting it. Thus whenever I fry a chicken for us at home, my wife will scavenge every stray crispy scrap, every golden-brown shard of skin from the leftovers, ensuring that any chicken leftover will be gray and pasty looking skinless appendages by the time they've cooled down the next day.
Here's the good news: my wife is gone for the summer, which means I get to eat cold fried chicken to my heart's content. Heck, I think I'll pick up a box of Popeye's on the way home just so I can let it get cold.
If I'm feeling extra spiteful I'll throw a webcam on it and let my wife watch live as her precious skin softens.
Of course, no picnic is complete without sides, so we've put together an entire travel-friendly menu for your next cold fried chicken picnic. Peep the slideshow above for a walkthrough, or just jump straight to the recipes below:
Get The Recipes
- Andrew Carmellini's Fried Chicken »
- Classic Potato Salad »
- Corn and Basil Salad »
- Great Deviled Eggs »
- Stone Fruit Salad with Ginger-Lime Syrup »
- Classic Pecan Pie »
- Perfect Brownies »
- 12 Lemonade Variations »
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.