It wasn’t until I moved to Texas that I learned that the method of preparation known as “chicken-fried” didn’t necessarily involve chicken but rather the act of battering and deep-frying a cut of meat, which is why I was more than a little confused when I tried chicken-fried steak for the first time.
Even more perplexing to me was the concept of “chicken-fried chicken” and, furthermore (as native Texans are eager to emphasize), that this food was in fact different from “fried chicken.” Now I have come to embrace these seeming contradictions not just because they’re quaint, but also because chicken-fried chicken is freaking delicious. Lone Star State cooks can call it anything they please, and I will eat it.
I find chicken-fried chicken so appealing that after visiting Alfred’s Burger House for takeout specifically because I madly desired (or so I thought) some medium rare beef, any craving disappeared upon discovering there was a chicken-fried chicken burger. It was absolutely imperative I sampled it ... whatever the heck it was.
But first, let’s call a spade a spade: Only the word burger should be italicized because this item more closely resembles a sandwich. And given the recent insanity surrounding fried chicken sandwiches, many of which I have tried, I was further curious as to how Alfred’s chicken-fried chicken version would compare.
Knowing that Alfred's is all about greasy, old-school style, I expected a simply dressed sandwich and, indeed, I got one. It arrived on a white flour bun, topped only with one lettuce leaf, two slices of tomato, and a lone red onion spiral. I hoped that with this kind of sparsity, I'd get one heck of a large portion of poultry encased in crispy fried batter. But while the chicken cutlet was big and had that juicy all-white meat, the fry coat was thin, soggy, and poorly applied. In fact, it separated completely from the meat when I picked up the sandwich.
I grew nostalgic for crispier, juicier chicken sammies of suppers past and resolved in the future to stick to the still very good beef burgers at Alfred’s. But I'm sure chicken-fried chicken eaters who like a little crispy, crumbly mess will love this burger just fine.