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The Bristal Assisted Living Blog

Posted by The Bristal  |  January 6, 2021

Chef’s Table: The Bristal at Somerset’s Jim Hayes Shares His Recipe for Nashville Hot Chicken

Chef’s table is an occasional series highlighting the talented chefs from The Bristal Assisted Living communities. Today we are featuring Jim Hayes, Director of Food Service for The Bristal at Somerset.

Modern concepts like farm-to-table and locally-sourced have been a way of life for Jim Hayes. Born and raised in Somerset, New Jersey, his childhood was spent picking vegetables from his family’s garden, and prepping them in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother. Once he was old enough, he went hunting with his father and brothers for game the family would use for meals.

His childhood experiences didn’t lead him directly to the kitchen though. After receiving his degree in music, Jim moved to Nashville to start his musical career. As with most artists just starting out, he took a position at a local restaurant to help cover his living expenses. It wasn’t long before Jim realized how much he enjoyed the rush of dinner service and preparing delicious meals for others to enjoy.

Building on the foundation his mother and grandmother provided, he worked in a variety of positions to further develop his skills. His culinary career thus far has been diverse and includes opening his own restaurant, overseeing Princeton University’s on-campus restaurants, and working with a James Beard award-winning chef at the prestigious Ryland Inn.

Jim joined The Bristal at Somerset as the Director of Food Service at the beginning of 2020, allowing him to watch the dining room and bistro being built. When asked about the differences between working at a high-end restaurant and The Bristal, he’s quick to respond, “There’s really no difference. The residents expect, and deserve, a gourmet dining experience.” He continues, “That’s not just the food – it’s the entire experience. From how beautiful the dining room looks when they enter to how the food is served – everything needs to match.”

Hosting chef demonstrations gives him an additional opportunity to connect with residents. To date, he has taught classes on pickling red onions, as well as how to make bread and butter pickles. He notes, “The residents really enjoy the classes… and eating what has been prepared!”

The following recipe is from Jim’s earlier days in Nashville, and one of his absolute favorites. Enjoy!

Nashville Hot Chicken

Ingredients

3 lbs chicken breast

Salt and Pepper

Dry Batter

2 cups all purpose flour

Sea Salt

Vegetable Oil For Frying

Wet Batter

1 cup whole milk

2 large eggs

1 Tbsp Louisiana Hot Sauce (Jim uses Frank’s Red Hot)

Spicy Coating

½ cup of hot frying oil

3 Tbsp cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp packed light brown sugar

Salt and Pepper

½ tsp paprika

½ tsp garlic powder

For Serving

Texas Toast

Bread & Butter Pickles

Directions

In a bowl, toss chicken with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

To make the wet batter mix the eggs, milk, and hot sauce.

To make the dry batter mix the flour and salt together in a separate bowl.

Dredge chicken in flour mixture, then dip in wet batter, then dip back into the flour mixture; shaking off the excess after each dip.

Heat the oil to 350 degrees in a deep pot or deep fryer. Set wire rack on top of a baking sheet and set aside. Slowly lower a couple of pieces of chicken breast at a time into the hot oil, and fry until crisp and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove from the oil and place on the rack to drain.

To make the spicy coating, carefully ladle the ½ cup of oil from the fryer into a heat safe bowl and add the dry ingredients – whisking well. Baste fried chicken liberally with spice mixture.

To serve, place chicken breast on top of a slice of Texas toast. Garnish with bread & butter pickles on top of chicken.


Chef's Notes Header Image

Chef 's Notes

Five questions. Hundreds of different answers based on our chef’s awesome personalities. Enjoy!

Q. Ingredient you must have?
A. Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

Q. Favorite recipe?
A. Nashville Hot Chicken

Q. Favorite tool?
A. Knife

Q. Favorite cuisine?
A. Caribbean

Q. Favorite meal?
A. Buffalo wings

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