Trailer Thursday: Spicy Fried Chicken at Ms P’s Electric Cock in Austin
Thu September 15, 2011 11:33 am


A bright red sign outlined in neon lights screams CHICKEN as you approach Ms P’s Electric Cock, a large silver trailer on a quieter part of South Congress Avenue. As you may have guessed from the attention-getting name, Ms P’s is not a place for subtlety. It is, however, a place for really good fried chicken. Or should I say fried CHICKEN!

Owner Perry Ray (a.k.a. Ms P) was inspired to open the trailer because she didn’t feel there was a place in Austin focused on putting out great fried chicken and southern comfort side dishes. Growing up in Tahoka, TX, Ray learned how to make fried chicken from her great grandmother, who she called “Big Mama.” (Awesome-sounding nicknames appear to run in the family).

Ray says her great grandmother “was a self-taught cook and a baker and was really good at both. Since I could stand on a stool to reach the cabinets she was teaching me how to cook.”

Big Mama made her fried chicken in a cast-iron skillet, but to make larger quantities to order, Ray had to learn how to make it taste just as good in a fryer. She developed a two-step brining process and amped up the spice level of the original recipe.

I stopped by Ms P’s on a Friday night to sample the goods. Funky music blasted from the trailer’s window. Official t-shirts featured a proud rooster sporting a hip pompadour and radiating electric sparks. Slogan on the back of the t-shirt: Good Cluck’n Chicken.

The chicken earned its star billing. Juicy meat was encased in a crispy coating that tasted just-the-right-amount of spicy. A three-piece platter was served with soft rolls and topped with big fresh jalapenos that just about dared you to bite into them. The fries, called Farm Frites, had an extra jolt of flavor from an unexpected sprinkling of thyme.

I sampled two side dishes, the Truffle Mac and Cheese and “The Marty,” a version of Mexican style street corn. The corn had great grilled flavor, a nice citrus kick of lime, and a jalapeno-spiked aioli. The Truffle Mac and Cheese was pretty to look at but didn’t have as much truffle flavor as I would have hoped. Instead, it came topped with a tangy aioli that provided a sharp flavor contrast to the mild cheese.

Ms P’s also reportedly serves a mean chicken and waffles during lunch on Saturdays and Sundays and will soon offer the combo during expanded weekday hours. Ray says they make yeast-risen waffles, which are lighter and crispier than the typical Belgian waffle. Also worth going back for: the Hen Scratch Slider, a sandwich featuring a fried boneless chicken tender topped with slaw.

Ray, who used to work in technology sales, was encouraged by her husband to follow her passion for cooking and open a trailer in Austin. Ms P’s Electric Cock first opened in March of this year in the Rainey Street district, but moved to its current location in May.

The trailer’s vintage aesthetic and thoughtfully designed logo combine to make Ms P’s one of the most eye-catching food trailers in town. To get the look they wanted, Ray and her husband bought a 1951 Spartan Imperial Mansion trailer (which Ray calls “the Cadillac of travel trailers in its day”) and fully restored it. The huge “CHICKEN” sign comes from an old restaurant called Leslie’s Fried Chicken Shack in Waco.

As for the name, Ray first saw the phrase “electric cock” on the poster art for a band she saw at Hole in the Wall. Add to that the respect she had for roosters after watching the way they ruled over the other birds at her family farm, and you can see why she chose the conversation-starting name.

Ms. P’s catches your attention with the name, then lures you in with the dynamite chicken. I mean, CHICKEN.

(Ms P's Electric Cock, 1101 South Congress Avenue, Austin. Open for dinner Wed.-Sat. 6 p.m. till the chicken runs out; for lunch Friday, Saturday, Sunday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.  Three piece fried chicken: $7.50. Truffle Mac and Cheese: $5. The Marty:  $3.50. Farm Frites: $4.)

-CLAIRE CANAVAN

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