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LQ Chicken Shack Shows a Side of Fried Chicken at Lillie’s Q

Charlie McKenna’s new venture, a takeout window next to his Bucktown BBQ joint, is expected to open later this month.

Fried chicken at LQ Chicken Shack   Photo: Neil Burger

Possibly not even big enough to qualify as a shack, LQ Chicken Shack (1856 W. North Ave., Bucktown, 773-772-5500) will occupy the chicken-coop-looking installation and takeout window near the host stand at the barbecue shrine Lillie’s Q. The pitmaster and proprietor, Charlie McKenna, described the process of making the chicken, in these condensed and edited remarks.

“We wanted to put fried chicken on the menu, but we have only one fryer. We fry french fries, hushpuppies, and pickles at a higher temperature than you would fry chicken at, from raw pieces. So we smoke the chicken first. It’s smoked with the skin on to protect juiciness. Then we take the skin off. The breading is traditional Southern: flour, spices, and buttermilk. We fry it at the higher temperature for four to five minutes.

“After pulling the skin off the smoked chicken, we cook the skin in the oven, smoked and seasoned. We weight it down between steel slabs to flatten it and keep it from curling up. As it cooks, the fat comes out and crisps it up. We use it as bacon in a CLT [like a BLT where the B is a C, short for C-FB, meaning chicken-fat bacon].

“You can’t order at the window and grab a table. And you cannot order the chicken to go if you are seated at a table. Takeout is takeout. Eat in is eat in.”

But you can just order the fried chicken as part of your eat-in meal, off the Lillie’s Q menu. If you’re planning to eat a whole bucket yourself and you want to do it in the privacy of your own home, out of the shameful eyes of disgusted strangers—not that we know anyone like that—the window is scheduled to open later this month.

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