Leading up to this year's Best of L.A. issue (due out Oct. 4), we'll be counting down, in no particular order, 100 of our favorite dishes.
56: Smothered Chicken at R & R Soul Food.
A good soul food plate should be formidable. It should make you worry whether you are going to be able make the drive home without falling asleep, never mind cleaning your plate. At Carson's R & R Soul Food, a former branch of M & M Soul Food that was taken over by an enterprising cook, the smothered chicken reigns supreme — and believe us, it will put the fear of God into you (and not just because of the all-African-American Last Supper portrait hanging in the dining room).
It starts with good fried chicken: dusted with flour and fried until its skin becomes chicharron-crisp, while the white meat inside remains plump and juicy. Then comes a tidal wave of dark brown gravy, rich, thick, and flavored with sautéed onions. Actually the plate is entirely covered in gravy (the kitchen must pour the stuff on with a cement mixer). Somehow though, like Noah's ark bobbing amongst the flood, the chicken retains its crunch.
If it were possible to eat only the side dishes here — soft cornbread muffins, mac n' cheese, sweet buttered corn, vinegar-lashed collard greens, or candied yams sweet enough to dissolve fillings — you would probably be comfortable and content. But that won't happen. When you're worshipping at a temple of home-cooking like R & R's, the only way to do it is to overdo it. Luckily, they're pretty helpful about leftovers — and refills on sweet tea.
Check out the rest of our 100 of our favorite dishes. Suggestion? Write us a comment.
Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.