I was feeling nostalgic for Nashville Hot Chicken a while back and came up with a menu that captures some of my favorite tastes from our southern climes. Since you can make most things ahead, it's not too difficult. The only last minute dish is the chicken itself and I think your guests will excuse you if spend some time in the kitchen to make them some of the best fried chicken they will ever eat.
Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Black-eyed peas are most often associated with Hoppin' John, eaten on New Year's day to ensure good luck for the coming year. Here the field peas are combined with bell pepper, onions, garlic,bacon and a classy vinaigrette to make an earthy, complex salad that is a great side for Hot Chicken. This salad would also be welcome at a potluck or picnic.
Hattie B's Black-Eyed Pea Salad
- 2 cups dried black-eyed peas
- 4 strips of bacon
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
- 1/4 cup malt vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 1/2 tsp fresh parsley,chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Sea Salt to taste
- 1 red bell pepper, small dice
- 1 green bell pepper, small dice
- 1 yellow bell pepper, small dice
- 2 scallions finely sliced
- 1/2 tsp fresh roasted garlic, minced (I used fresh)
Make the vinaigrette by combining all the ingredients. Allow the flavors to mingle overnight
Put the beans in a large bowl and add enough water to cover the beans by 3 to 4 inches. Set the beans aside to soak overnight.
Drain the beans and set aside.
In a large pot, render the bacon strips. Once the bacon has given up its fat, add the stock and bring it to a simmer.
Add the peas and cook until tender. You don't want them to be mushy. Drain the peas and remove the bacon. While the peas are hot, toss in the vinaigrette and salt is needed.
Chill and serve.
To add another texture element, I fried some bacon and crumbled it into the finished salad.
(basic recipe from The Hot-Chicken Cookbook by Timothy Charles Davis.)
Buttermilk Corn Bread
Corn bread is a favorite at our house. I've prepared all different varieties and I haven't met one that I haven't loved. If you are entertaining folks with gluten sensitivities, keep it in mind as an alternative to bread. Leftovers are absolutely wonderful, toasted in the oven with a bit of butter and then topped with your favorite preserves. Soooo good. This is a plain version that is easily and quickly prepared.
Buttermilk Corn Bread
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 1 TBS bacon fat or butter
Preheat the oven to 375degrees F.
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Pour in the buttermilk and beat in the eggs.
Melt the fat in a cast-iron skillet.
Pour in the batter and bake in the skillet for 20 to 25 minutes, until risen and browned.
(from Martha Phelps Stamps' The New Southern Basics.)
Usually, I just wing it when I make Cole Slaw, but this recipe from Martha Phelps Stamps' The New Southern Basics is a particularly colorful and tangy version. Cole Slaw is a great side for a BBQ, Fish Fry and fried chicken.
- 1/2 head red cabbage,very thinly sliced
- 1/2 head white cabbage, very thinly sliced
- 1/2 yellow onion, very thinly sliced
- 2 carrots, grated
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup yellow mustard
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- Hot Sauce to taste
- 1/2 tsp salt
Mix everything together and store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Hot Chicken with some southern sides
This recipe is from The Hot Chicken Cookbook. This creates a version recognizable to most hot chicken lovers.
Traditional Hot Chicken
- 1 fryer, cut into 8 pieces
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 TBS rub
- peanut oil
For the Paste (Rub)
- 3 TBS cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp smoked or hot paprika
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 tsp garlic powder
- Bacon fat or used oil as needed for the paste
Mix the flour and tablespoon of the spice mix in a paper bag.Working in small batches,drop the chicken into the bag, shake,let rest briefly and shake again.
When the oil is ready,fry a few pieces at a time. Cover and cook until one side begins to brown. Turn the chicken and cook until golden brown. The internal temperature should register at least 165 degrees.
Remove the chicken from the oil and drain on a wire rack. cook in batches.
To make the paste, heat bacon fat or use a few teaspoons of the oil used to cook the chicken and add a little at a time to the spices listed. What you want to achieve is a consistency that can be brushed onto the chicken-- not too stiff or too wet. Brush the cooked chicken generously with the paste and get to eating. This mixture makes a medium hot paste. If you want it hotter, use more cayenne. If you want it not so spicy, use less.