In past 914Eats! columns we’ve looked at Westchester classics, the icons that all 914 residents know, love and grew up with. We’re going to switch it up a bit and look at the next generation of dishes deserving of cult status. The dishes which are too new to be considered iconic but, whether due to technique, ingenuity, deliciousness, or all three, are sure to stand the test of time and become county classics. Some of our past additions have been comfort food, some elegant meals. Our first “new classic” is a combination of the two.
In creating the PFC (Portuguese Fried Chicken) at 42 The Restaurant in White Plains, Chef Anthony Goncalves has, quite simply, hit a home run in high end comfort food. The name, PFC, is a whimsical play on America’s best known fried chicken chain, but Col. Sanders can keep his 11 herbs and spices and his buckets. The PFC is an artistic take on a classic food.
Full disclosure: I recently started working in the kitchen at 42, which gives me a special vantage for understanding the components of this dish. And it is a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, though all the parts are amazing on their own. An incredibly crispy, deboned chicken thigh is nestled into a bed of surprisingly toothsome, garlicky kale which rests atop a pillow of impossibly creamy, cheesy, cheddar grits. It is then tucked in (if we’re sticking with the whole comfy bed analogy) with a sweet tomato honey which is drizzled over the top.
Though the name is a play on KFC, the Portuguese Fried Chicken hues closer to BBQ, with all the classic components of a barbecue chicken meal on one plate. In fact, the PFC was developed last summer as part of Chef Goncalves’ quest to create different types of barbecue chicken, a dish evocative of Algarve, the southernmost tip of mainland Portugal. According to the chef it was Portuguese barbecue chicken met his “love of fried chicken” to create the dish.
Lest you envision greasy batches of chicken being pulled from a deep fryer at a chain restaurant, the PFC is not, in fact, deep fried. A chicken thigh is rubbed in a paprika rich spice mixture before soaking in buttermilk. It is then quickly seared in olive oil before baking in a pizza oven. The result is an astonishingly crispy crust which yields to and exceedingly moist and tender interior with just a hint of smoke and a slight hit of heat.
The kale, redolent of garlic, retains a surprisingly crisp texture, despite being blanched and sautéed, providing an intriguing transition to the smooth, creamy grits below. The grits, aside from being absolutely delicious, serve as a textural counterpoint to the crispness of the chicken but, in their cheesiness, temper the heat of the spice rub. The tomato honey, Chef Anthony’s take on doce de tomato, a Portuguese jam which he says is, “eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner”, adds sweetness and acidity which help balance the incredibly rich flavors combined below.
Crunchy, creamy, sweet, savory, cheesy and acidic, the PFC hits every mark in a beautifully balanced and, most importantly, lusciously delicious dish. Also, the view from the forty second floor of the Ritz-Carlton, Westchester in White Plains is probably a bit better than your local Kentucky Fried Chicken. So, what are you waiting for? Hurry up and try tomorrow’s classic today!