Bites Exclusive: Winning Hot Chicken Recipe!

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In an earlier thread about the recent Music City Hot Chicken Festival, held July 4 at East Park, we offered hearty and grease-soaked congratulations to this year's winner, Justin Jones of Team Soda Pong. We also said that we'd asked Justin to send us the recipe that cinched his first-place prize, but so far we hadn't heard from him.

This was not a surprise. Hot chicken recipes are guarded more fiercely than child brides. No local grail is more keenly sought than the mysterious mixture of spices and incendiary devices that gives Prince's Hot Chicken its atomic glow.

But all of a sudden, to our undying wonder and gratitude, what should arrive via ePony Express but a missive from Justin Jones--and with it the winning recipe!

A few considerations. First, we haven't tried it for ourselves (but O my readers and only friends, you can bet we will). Second, this is not the Prince's recipe, and Justin makes no claim that it is. Third, it's bound to cause some controversy on one front: all the heat is added after the chicken is cooked.

Still, this is the recipe a panel of expert judges selected as Nashville's best civilian hot chicken. Without further ado, we let Justin Jones give you the bird.

Award-Winning Hot Chicken Recipe

By Justin Jones, food adventurer and breaker of hearts

There are rules. Beware the unwitting accomplices of ignorance who would foist imposters upon us, who would carelessly suppose that Hot Chicken and spicy chicken are the same thing, who would give us something akin to a buffalo wing, who would give us bread that isn't soaked in the deliciously vibrant grease that is the delicacy's hallmark, who would deprive us of similarly seasoned pickle slices.

In the past, this culinary battle of wits might have been settled once and for all by a knife-throwing contest, a fight to the death with poison-tipped rapiers, or a game of Clue. Now, good sense and state and federal law dictate that we settle our differences more diplomatically, if less nobly, through education.

I offer this recipe to the city of Nashville as our best available weapon against the tide of ignorance, our best chance to vanquish the timid, the half-hearted, and the destroyers who would bastardize the delicacy we love. For anyone who has ever attempted to recreate Hot Chicken in his or her kitchen, this is my contribution to the solution of that mystery; I do not claim that it is the answer to all of our questions, but I do believe that it is at least a good start. It is offered also as a challenge, with the understanding that whoever undertakes it will improve upon it. I hope any worthwhile improvements will be shared with me.

The Paste (enough for one or two chicken breasts):

1 tbsp plus 2 tsp lard

3 tbsp cayenne

3 pinches sugar

3/8 tsp salt

¼ tsp garlic powder

Other Ingredients:

Self-rising flour, chicken, white bread, and pickles

All the seasoning is in the paste; dredge the chicken in plain self-rising flour. Fry it.

Mix all of the ingredients for the paste (microwaving the lard for about 30 seconds will make this easier). Apply it evenly and liberally to the fried chicken using either a basting brush or your latex glove-protected hands. Note: I generally use about a teaspoonful of paste for each side of a chicken breast. This method is the only way I know to get the orange, grease-soaked white bread that is the hallmark of all true hot chicken.

When you've covered the top half, flip it over onto a piece of white bread and finish the job. Enjoy.

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