THE BLOG
07/04/2013 11:16 am ET | Updated Sep 03, 2013

The Ultimate Fried Chicken Roadmap

2013-06-28-1PiesNThighs_flickrreddawg31.jpgWe know, you think your mom makes the best fried chicken out there. Nostalgia and hometown bias aside, though, many of us are also very opinionated about our favorite fried chicken joints outside of our own childhood kitchens (Credit: reddawg31).

Fried chicken is a quintessential American dish, along with hamburgers, hot dogs, apple pie, barbecue, peanut butter, and casseroles. It's cheap, relatively easy to prepare (although some obviously do it better than others), and is a great equalizer: no matter who you are or where you're from, you're expected to eat it with your hands.

Click here to see The Ultimate Fried Chicken Roadmap for 2013

Fried chicken may have a particularly strong association with the Southeast, but its roots belong to many immigrant populations who settled in all corners of the country. People from West African, European, and Asian ethnicities can all take some credit for both introducing and continuing the fried chicken tradition stateside. And just how important is this dish to Americans today? Well, it has its own national holiday: July 6.

RELATED: 101 Best Food Trucks in America

Last year, we brought you an extensive roadmap of the country's best places for fried chicken. So how did we come up for additions to this year's roadmap? We considered reader feedback while also consulting our staff and several national experts. Along with some necessary Midwest mentions (such as a couple of infamous dueling restaurants in Pittsburg, Kan.), we've included a unique venue that feeds its scraps to local raccoons, as well as a North Carolina church kitchen turned popular local restaurant.

RELATED: America's Best Ribs

Flour, water, salt, chicken, and lard are just the beginning when it comes to fried chicken. These basic ingredients lay the foundation for customization -- whether it's a vinegar-based marinade, cayenne, or even maple-honey butter. The possibilities are (actually) endless. Everyone's got their favorite, so if your preferred establishment didn't make this year's cut, let us know by leaving a comment.

- Lauren Wilson, The Daily Meal

More from The Daily Meal:
America's 35 Best Hot Dogs
The Ultimate BBQ Sauce Taste Test
15 Essential Barbecue Ingredients
America's Top 10 Chain Burgers

Ultimate Fried Chicken Roadmap