If there’s one thing that most foodies agree on, it’s that southern fried chicken is awesome.
Lovingly soaked and seasoned in a complex mix of herbs and spices, no recipe is ever the same, and yet most manage to be totally yummy. Spicy, crisp batter covers a treasure trove of tender meat, with the whole lot usually dipped into or slathered in something delicious. What’s not to love about this American classic?
As fried chicken has cemented its place at the pinnacle of comfort food, any change to the formula is going to cause controversy. However, some twists are clearly going to be more acceptable than others. It takes a visionary chef to tweak a spice blend and it takes a brave one to replace the chicken with an entirely different animal. To try and southern fry a frog is another matter entirely...
That is exactly what one pioneering Californian cook has done. Riffing on Nashville’s signature “hot” style chicken, Peter Petro has unearthed a new, all-American delicacy.
A Mecca for fried food fans, Nashville’s legendary approach to chicken traditionally revolves around spice. Chicken, slowly marinated in a blend featuring fiery cayenne pepper, is fried, submerged in Nashville hot sauce and served atop a slice of thick white bread. The whole lot is crowned by a line of crunchy, chunky pickles. Tennessee locals swear that it’s as good as it gets.
This makes Petro’s decision to tear up the rulebook seem all the more baffling. Nonetheless, if the reviews are anything to go by, the gamble has paid off. The new creation, available at Bosscat Kitchen and Libations in Orange County, takes the same basic formula as Nashville hot chicken, and applies it to frog’s legs.
Though this might seem like blasphemy to some, there is method in the madness. Traditionally, frog’s legs have featured prominently on classical French menus. Tasting like a halfway house between chicken and meaty fish and prized for their light, lean texture, the unorthodox ingredient has found its way into an array of famous dishes over the years. When lightly fried and served alongside lemon and garlic, frog makes for a great alternative to more popular meats in Europe’s gastronomic capital.
Even a cursory look at Bosscat’s latest menu item tells you that this novel idea has legs. Reporters for food website and blog Foodbeast revealed that the frog delivered everything that you would want from a classic Nashville hot chicken, but in a “jucier, softer” form. One stunned first-time frogger was happy to announce that the meat was “surprisingly buttery”, before instantly diving back in for seconds.
This is not the first maverick approach that Bosscat have adopted to classic cooking. Alongside their amphibious chicken alternatives, diners can ask for “whisky okra”, “pork belly poutine” and “parmesan crusted meatloaf”. If the kitchen’s approach to these family favourites is anything like as successful as their attitude to chicken, guests are in for a treat.
If the new Nashville frog’s legs prove anything, it’s that chefs should never be afraid to play around with a classic recipe. Even if something seems like a terrible idea, or some experiments end in total disaster, you should never be disheartened. You never know when you might stumble across the next great comfort food fad.