The Big Peach
For all the Underground Gourmet knows, there may be more fried-chicken specialists in Brooklyn these days than there are in the entire South. Among the newcomers, Peaches HotHouse (415 Tompkins Ave., at Hancock St., Bedford-Stuyvesant; 718-483-9111) is where we go whenever we want to breathe fire through our nostrils and watch steam shoot out each other’s ears, the inevitable consequence, we discovered, of requesting the Nashville-style fried chicken extra hot ($12). Cayenne pepper is the purported culprit, but as your lips numb, your tongue swells, and even your kneecaps begin to sweat, you wonder whether this fiendish concoction has been brined in rocket fuel and dry-rubbed with gunpowder. We’re also quite partial to the fried chicken and biscuits at the divey Commodore (366 Metropolitan Ave., at Havemeyer St., Williamsburg; 718-218-7632), where it comes three crisp and juicy thighs to a plate ($9). But the dish not to miss here is a grilled pimiento-and-poblano sandwich called an “adult cheese” ($6), crusty and tangy and perhaps more tastefully mature than the clientele. Of course, the big news in deep-fried poultry this year was the long-awaited return of Pies-N-Thighs (166 S. 4th St., at Driggs St., Williamsburg; 347-529-6090), a rural-hip country kitchen keeping the bewhiskered and plaid-clad locals afloat in crisp-skinned, moist-fleshed chicken, which we found most enticing tucked jauntily into a world-class biscuit ($5). In an informal, if not piggy, state-fair-style sampling of all the endearingly homespun pies, the silky-textured banana-cream gets the Underground Gourmet blue ribbon. The country-fried crawl continues apace to Carroll Gardens, where you might want to wipe the chicken grease off your hands and mouth before entering the spiffy premises of Seersucker, the self-professed home for “cleaned-up” southern cooking (329 Smith St., nr. President St.; 718-422-0444). Accordingly, the best dish there is eaten with silverware instead of your fingers, and it’s a luscious chicken and dumplings at that: a bowl of tender meat and soul-soothing dumplings, crowned with a crunchy tuile of chicken skin ($18). We also quite liked the snack tray ($15), a church-picnic-style spread of deviled eggs, country-ham pâté, pickled okra, and pimiento cheese. Wash it down with some sweet tea or, even better, a glass of Red Hook rosé on tap.