In this episode of my food podcast, Hungry for Words, I interviewed Holly Hughes, the editor of the long-running Best Food Writing series.
In one of my favorite conversations on this show so far, we talked about the lengths she went to unearth great food writing. She reads as many as 1,500 stories a year to curate each annual volume.
We explored her life before the series, as executive editor of Fodor’s travel books. When she started the series in 2000, many people didn’t think she could find enough food writing to fill a book.
We delved into what separates bland food writing from the best examples. I read aloud some of my favorite leads and we discussed why that particular piece intrigued her enough to include it. I worked up the nerve to ask why none of my work was ever included — and she offered an unexpected answer.
Be sure to listen to the end of the podcast; there’s some surprising news about The Best Food Writing series.
I always craft food from a book I’m showcasing on the podcast. With so many years to choose from in the Best Food Writing series, I couldn’t select just one recipe. So I chose two: Nashville Hot Fried Chicken by Jane and Michael Stern and Asparagus Soup by Bethany Jean Clement. Bethany writes for The Seattle Times, and I’d remembered wanting to try it then. You can find that recipe here.
Below you’ll find an adapted version of the food that took Nashville by storm, and made it something of a culinary must-try. Their story originally appeared in Saveur.
Nashville Hot Fried Chicken
- Deep fryer or 6-quart stockpot
- High heat thermometer
- 3 cups buttermilk
- 3 to 4 tablespoons cayenne
- 3 tablespoons granulated garlic
- 3 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 1 tablespoons sugar
- 1 chicken 2 ½ lbs/1 kilo, cut into 8 pieces, or 3 lbs. wings
- 4 tablespoons cayenne
- 6 tablespoons granulated garlic
- 6 tablespoons paprika
- 4 tablespoons onion powder
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- 3 to 4 tablespoons cayenne
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- Sliced white sandwich bread
- Dill pickle chips for serving
- Combine the buttermilk, 1/4 cup cayenne, 3 tablespoons each granulated garlic and paprika,2 tablespoons onion powder and 1 tablespoon sugar in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Add chicken and toss to coat. Cover and chill for at least four hours or overnight.
- Drain the chicken, rinse and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 inches oil in a 6-quart saucepan until a frying thermometer reads 300F/149C. Stir ¼ cup cayenne, 6 tablespoons granulated garlic, 6 tablespoons paprika, 4 tablespoons onion powder and 2 tablespoons sugar in a bowl. Transfer half to another bowl and whisk in the 2 cups self-rising flour.
- Working in batches, dredge the chicken in the flour mixture. Fry, flipping once, until golden and almost cooked through, about 6 to 7 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 150F/TKC. Transfer chicken to a plate lined with paper towels.
- Increase oil temperature to 350 F/176 C. Stir ¼ remaining cayenne pepper and 6 tablespoons melted butter in a bowl until it makes a paste. Set aside.
- Dredge chicken once more in the flour mixture and fry until cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain briefly on paper towels and brush with the cayenne-butter paste. Serve with bread and pickles.
No self-rising flour?
- Combine 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
- For each cup milk, replace 1 tablespoon of milk with white wine or apple cider vinegar. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. You an also use sour cream or yogurt blended with milk.