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It ain't pretty, but not every meal needs to be on Instagram.

Image: Cory Garcia

We're all looking for a meal that reminds us of our childhood. For me, for the last few months, it’s been a very silly dish: a chicken fried chicken baked potato.

I can hear you thinking, “sounds like the KFC Famous Bowl. A ‘failure pile in a sadness bowl,’ as Patton Oswalt might say.” Judge me if you must, but I’ve never understood the whole “eat each portion of your meal on its own” thing. One of the joys of cooking is learning how flavors work together, and just because you order a la carte doesn’t mean you have to eat that way. Not only is piling chicken and gravy on top of a baked potato efficient, it’s delicious. It’s such an incredibly obvious combination I’m surprised that it’s so hard to find in restaurants.

But there’s one place I know that has the potato I’m looking for. Up in Huntsville, there’s a place called Potato Shack, and a recent trip to Dallas gave me the perfect excuse to indulge in my CFC potato craving. Potato Shack has grown up quite a bit since I was a Bearkat, but I dig the newer location. It’s got that rustic roadhouse interior that is popular in Texas, the perfect thing for a place that slings loaded potatoes.

Their chicken fried chicken potato is beautiful in its simplicity. Potato. Butter. Gravy. Chicken. The side of Texas toast is just an added bonus to a dish that will leave you stuffed in the most delightful way. In terms of flavor, the closest thing I can get to is that it tastes like an elevated Dairy Queen chicken basket, and that’s a good thing. This isn’t a dish that needs fancy chicken, given that it’s swimming in a pool of gravy. It’s got just enough flavor to be the star of the dish without upsetting the balance of flavors.

Friendly advice: ask them to double the chicken. It’s always best to guarantee that you’ll get a bite of chicken in every bite.

Now that I’ve sated my need for a CFC potato, I might finally be ready to explore the rest of their menu the next time the winds of fate drag me, kicking and screaming, to Dallas. A chicken and waffle potato sounds intriguing. A chicken parmesan potato could definitely have potential. A bacon cheeseburger potato sounds so obvious I don’t know why I haven’t eaten dozens already. Thank you, Potato Shack, for giving me a reason to stop hating on the drive to Dallas so much.

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