Chef Stephan Pyles has changed the way I view chicken. You see, I have always been resistant to ordering an entrée of chicken from any high-end dining establishment. Call it poultry prejudice, but I have always sorta looked down on the lowly chicken when it competes with beef, lamb, pork, buffalo, lobster, or just about any number of more tantalizing menu options. Don’t get me wrong, I love a nice piece of hot-n-juicy fried chicken from Bubba’s Cooks Country just as much as the next guy, but when I am sitting down at the table of a culinary mastermind, I am not particularly interested in what he or she is doing with chicken.
I don’t think I’m completely alone, am I? Mr. Anthony Bourdain once said, “Chicken is boring…chefs see it as a menu item for people who don’t know what they want to eat.”
So perhaps, when I got around to ordering chicken dishes at Stephan Pyles, I actually had no idea what I wanted to eat. Possibly. But in my ignorance, I found bliss, I found chicken which surpassed all my expectations and left me wondering why I had scorned my dear feathered friend for so long.
Mr. Pyle’s chicken offerings seems to change as the menu gets revamped periodically, but rest assured, you are in good hands whenever you go. Currently, he is running a juicy roasted chicken that has been stuffed with garlic and sage, paired with tender brussel sprouts. This is accompanied by dumplings of masa and ricotta, resting in a rich thigh confit and slightly sweet whipped camote.
Prior to this chicken rendition, Pyles served another knock-out dish (pictured above) of roasted chicken stuffed with ricotta accompanied by a mushroom-bacon ragout, topped with a slowly melting dollop of truffled honey crema, on a bed of liquid polenta. Genius, folks.
Point is, chicken is not just for nuggets anymore. In the hands of the right person, it is a bird that can really sing. You may, however, keep the sweet-and-sour dipping sauce far away from me until further notice.