100 Favorite Dishes 2014-15: No. 75, Fried Chicken Ballotine for Two at Provisions
Apologies for the photo quality. You don't need good light to know when food is great though.
Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
Once again, Kaitlin Steinberg is eating her way through Houston and counting down her 100 favorite dishes as we work our way toward our annual Menu of Menus® issue and culinary extravaganza. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most delicious, most creative and, of course, most indicative of our ever-changing food scene. It's a list of personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that are uniquely Houstonian.
I know it's anti-Texan, anti-American and possibly blasphemous to say, but here goes: I don't really like fried chicken. I was raised by a health food-obsessed mother who practically banned fried food from our home, and I never really developed a taste for it. I also have a thing about chewing meat off a bone.
Most food writers have some weird quirks, but I daresay mine is one of the weirdest and most problematic. An aversion to chewing meat off bones eliminates fried chicken, chicken wings, ribs and all manner of other meats from my regular diet. I'll try anything, of course, but I'm less likely to enjoy it when I have to pick my food up and gnaw it off the bone. Again, I know. It's weird.
Fortunately, Provisions has created a dish seemingly tailored to convince people like me that fried chicken in our friend.
The fried chicken at Provisions is prepared in the French style called "ballotine," defined by its lack of bone. The meat is wrapped around a generous serving of thin, funky prosciutto and coiled into a spiral. Presumably it was tied with a string to hold the long, thin shape while it was being cooked, but it's served in neat, round slices that allow diners to see the lovely meat-filled interior.
It arrives at the table (or bar counter) in a small roasting pan filled with enough meat and vegetables to comfortably feed two. There's a roasted corn succotash and skinny, slightly crisp green beans surrounding the meat, which somehow manages to stay crunchy, even on a bed of vegetables.
The light batter on the outside of each round of chicken maintains its crispness throughout the duration of the meal--no small feat for fried chicken served with steaming vegetables. Even more impressive is that the fried crust maintains its integrity even when doused with the accompanying mushroom gravy, often necessary with dried out turkey at Thanksgiving, but here just an extra treat on top of the already juicy dark and white chicken meat.
While I'm eating it, I often think of Thanksgiving, even though I never have chicken or corn succotash at my celebratory meals. Something about the batter is reminiscent of stuffing, while the green beans, gravy and dark meat combine to give the plate an overall Thanksgiving vibe.
It's something I've come to crave, even in the middle of summer, even when thoughts of Thanksgiving are far from my mind.
The list so far: No. 76, Parrillada Platter at Tinto's Grill No. 77, Spaghetti Carbonara at Coppa Osteria No. 78, The Outdoorsman at Pi Pizza Truck No. 79, Campechana de Mariscos at Goode Co. Seafood No. 80, Whole Fried Fish at Churrascos No. 81, Daughter-in-Law Burger at Natachee's Supper 'n Punch No. 82, Chiles en Nogada Tradicionales at Pico's Mex-Mex No. 83, Porkobuco at Brooklyn Athletic Club No. 84, Chai Pie at Pondicheri No. 85, Tacos at Taqueria Maya Quiché No. 86, S'mores at 13 Celsius No. 87, Calamari at Lillo & Ella No. 88, Pulled Pork Nachos at Way Good Food Truck No. 89, Garden Sammie at Local Foods No. 90, Barbecued Salmon Salad at Brooks Family BBQ No. 91, Smoked Salmon Waffle at The Waffle Bus No. 92, Chirashi Lunch at Sushi Miyagi No. 93, Finocchiona Sandwich at Siphon Coffee No. 94, Combo Catracho at Mi Bella Honduras Restaurant No. 95, Tamal de Puerco at Andes Cafe No. 96, Cheeseburger at Sparkle's Hamburger Spot No. 97, Mi Quang at Simply Pho No. 98, Helado de Lúcuma at Pollo Bravo No. 99, Fat Fries at Fat Bao No. 100, Fish Bánh Mì at La Baguette
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