Lot 2's Crispy Chicken Keeps It Simple But Fresh

By Heather Holland on December 10, 2012 11:14am 

PARK SLOPE — Lot 2 changes its menu weekly depending on what produce is available or what mood the chefs might be in, but there’s one item that is rarely left off — the crispy chicken.

The restaurant, which serves new American cuisine, bases its menu on what’s in season, and what local farmers have to offer. But its ever-popular signature crispy chicken is always in demand.

“[The crispy chicken's] something that’s almost always on the menu,” said Daniel Roja, the 32-year-old head chef of Lot 2. “It’s something that our friends and regulars have come to expect and love from us.”

Last week, the chef was serving the crispy chicken with Italian farro and fall vegetables; the week prior it had been accompanied by lentils, Roja said.

For Lot 2’s signature crispy chicken dish — the chicken comes from Pennsylvania farm Bell & Evans — the chef uses minimal ingredients such as salt, pepper, white wine and grape seed oil.

Roja begins the dish with a 3-pound leg of chicken, which has been cleaned and cut. Each side of the chicken leg is covered with a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Then, the chef adds grape seed oil to a flat pan and allows it to heat up on the stove.

“We use grape seed oil for all our protein because it’s got the highest smoke point,” Roja explained.

Once the oil has been heated, the chef adds the chicken leg to the pan. To keep the skin of the chicken from puckering up, Roja uses tongs to roll the chicken from side to side to keep the skin relaxed.

While the chicken cooks, Roja prepares another pan with olive oil and butter.

This week’s vegetable set includes farro — which is a kind of wheat grain — a cauliflower-like vegetable called Romanesco, and rainbow carrots. All the vegetables have been pre-roasted, and are added to the pan and placed on the stove to heat up.

Roja gets his produce from Project Eats, an urban farming collective that is active all over the city. The rainbow carrots were specifically sourced from an urban farm at a men’s shelter in Wards Island near The Bronx, and are often only out of the ground for 36 hours before they're used at the restaurant.

"We have really good relationships with a couple of farmers," Roja said. "We try to help them out, and they help us out."

The Romanesco, a green variant of cauliflower, comes from the Finger Lakes region, and the farro, an ancient grain, has traveled from Italy.

While the veggies are heating, Roja puts the chicken into a 400-degree oven to make sure it’s cooked all the way through.

Finally, the veggies and chicken are placed on to the serving plate and finished with a touch of lemon juice, parsley and lemon zest.

The crispy chicken dish is priced at $20.

Visit www.lot2restaurant.com/menus.html for a full menu.

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