Under the Apron Strings: Red Hot Cold Chicken



Alton served this dish to me many years ago for an alfresco dinner. He was trying to impress me. It worked.


As a lover of dark meat, I prefer to use chicken legs or thighs. It is my favorite addition to a picnic basket, as it is best served cold. Some would say that white meat is better for you, but the nutritional value in dark meat is higher than that in white.


Hot chicken has become all the rage in Nashville. Tourists wait for hours in line to get a taste of Bolton’s, Prince’s or Hattie B’s recipes. My first taste of Nashville’s hot chicken was before it was so widely recognized – unsure of what to order, I went with “nuclear” heat.


My hair stood on end and not even a glass of milk would put the fire out. I would choose Alton’s Red Hot Cold Chicken any day.


Ingredients


  • 1 bottle of your favorite hot sauce (12 ounces), reserve 1/4 cup for basting (we prefer Texas Pete Original Hot Sauce)

  • 10 to 12 pieces of chicken (bone in and skin on) 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon pepper


Preparation


  • Place the chicken in a large covered bowl or resealable bag. Pour the hot sauce over the chicken (reserving 1/4 cup), sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover or seal.

  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes to several hours, the longer the better for me. Thirty minutes will give the chicken a milder flavor, so I suggest marinating for 1 hour for medium heat and longer for a hotter taste.

  • Prepare the grill or preheat the oven to 375 degrees.


Grill


  • The process of grilling, which adds a char, is my favorite over the oven method.

  • If using a gas grill, heat it on high. If using charcoal or wood, build so that the bed is twice as thick on one side, one hotter side than the other.

  • Your grill is ready when you can hold your hand about 5 inches over the cooking area for 1 to 2 seconds on the hotter side.

  • Add chicken to the hotter side of the grill and cook, flipping and rear-ranging the pieces to different hot parts of the grill every 5 minutes or so to ensure even cooking. Cook 10 to 12 minutes total. You’ll look for a golden brown color with slight charring.

  • Move the chicken to other side of the grill to the lower temperature coals. Cover the grill and cook until tender, checking every 3 to 5 minutes and rotating as needed, about 25 minutes.

  • Baste with remaining hot sauce, turning to coat both sides and flip-ping as needed to completely coat. Remove from grill to platter.

  • Serve immediately or allow to cool completely and refrigerate. Chicken is even better the next day served cold.

  • Red Hot Cold Chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.


Oven


  • Remove chicken from the marinade and transfer to a roasting pan or cookie sheet sprayed with olive oil or regular cooking spray.

  • Discard the marinade.

  • Roast chicken until it begins to cook through, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn chicken over and baste with juices and roast for an additional 10 minutes.

  • Baste with remaining hot sauce and additional sprinkle of pepper. Roast an additional 10 minutes.

  • Prick to see if the juice runs clear. If not, return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes.

  • Serve immediately or allow to cool completely and refrigerate. Chicken is even better the next day served cold.

  • Red Hot Cold Chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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