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Bistro to open for lunch and Nashville hot chicken is on the menu

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By PARIND VORA

Hello everyone. My name is Parind Vora. I’m the chef/owner of Lockhart Bistro in the charming Lockhart square. In this column, we talk cooking, tricks to cooking, and sometimes eating.

I have some great news. After years of repeated requests, Lockhart Bistro will be opening for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 28. So, for this ‘Cooking with Parind’ article, I will show you how to make one of the dishes from our lunch menu — Spicy, Nashville hot chicken.

Basically, it is milk brined chicken thighs and sometimes legs (breasts can’t stand up to the spice) that will be double breaded. It is then fried to golden brown goodness and tossed in a spicy marinade of un-Godly amount cayenne pepper, a little brown sugar and other spices in pork fat. It is served with bread and butter pickles over a couple of slices of soft, white bread (I actually liked Wonder bread the best for this).

The recipe is quite simple but takes a few days to do it right. So, let’s get started. I’ve specified certain brands that are specific for my taste but feel free to substitute.

Nashville hot chicken

Ingredients:

Prepped chicken:

Boneless, skin-on organic chicken thighs (skin side up) seasoned with salt and put on a rack lined sheet pan/cookie sheet). Refrigerate overnight for 24/48 hours.

Brine: Mix Well

1½ cups buttermilk

2-3 Egg whites

¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper

Seasoned Dredging: Mix Well

1½ cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons corn meal

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon salt

Cayenne Pepper paste: Mix Well

4-6 tablespoons of ground cayenne pepper (don’t use the one that’s been in your spice drawer since the 80’s)

2 tablespoons Cholula or your favourite mainline hot sauce

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon oregano

¼ teaspoon salt

1/2 cup pork fat (bacon fat (what I use), lard and/or butter and/or vegetable shortening)

Oil to fry the chicken.

DAY 1:

Prep the chicken as above two days before to shrink wrap/dry the skin.

DAY 2/3:

Make the brine by mixing the buttermilk, egg whites and black pepper. Add the refrigerator dried salted chicken and mix by hand while ensuring that all the nooks and crannies of the chicken are marinated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

DAY 3/4:

Take all the chicken out of the marinade. Pat dry very well using paper towels. Toss into the seasoned flour dredging mix. Shake the excess off. Add the seasoned dredging coated chicken back into the brine. Shake the excess off. toss into the well mixed seasoned dredging. Coat well and shake the excess off.

So, at this point the chicken is double battered. Now, put the breaded chicken to come to room temperature on a rack over a sheet pan/cookie sheet for about an hour uncovered at room temperature. If this makes you nervous then just put the entire rack in the freezer until frozen solid and fry from frozen but make sure you are only cooking a few pieces of chicken at a time, as the frozen chicken will drop the oil temperature substantially.

Fry the chicken until done and quite a mahogany brown. Toss or brush the chicken in/with the warm cayenne pepper paste.

While the chicken is frying, heat the spicy cayenne pepper paste until the fats have melted and all the spices are incorporated. Keep warm. (don’t stick your face over the pan while you are heating the paste).

To serve, put 1-2 slices of wonder bread in the center of a plate. Top. With the piping hot super-spiced chicken. Brush a little more of the pepper paste on the fried chicken and arrange a few bread & butter pickles.

Let me know how ‘your’ hot chicken compares to mine!

I would serve this chicken with a nicely chilled French Cennin Blanc or a tannin-less French Beaujolais Nouveau or a similar crianza (rioja) from Spain. A super chilled cheap dressed Mexican lager is also a valid option.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This column was submitted by Vora to the Post-Register prior to the July 9 fire at Lockhart Bistro, but he has requested it still be published since his temporary location for the restaurant at 318 St. George St. in Gonzales will also have a lunch menu Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. as well as a dinner menu. The restaurant will have its same dinner hours as previously in Lockhart – 5-10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, with a brunch menu on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

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