Recipe of the Day: Nashville Hot Chicken



Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you know that spicy fried chicken sandwiches are everywhere. In fact, spicy chicken sandwiches were among the top food trends of 2020. And even though we’re well into the new year, this super satisfying sandwich shows no signs of slowing down. If you’ve been downing Popeye’s chicken sandwiches and Buffalo chicken sandwiches for the last few years and are finding yourself bored with their heat level, it’s about time you graduate to the king of all spicy chicken dishes: Nashville hot chicken.

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This fiery sandwich has a surprising supposed origin story. Allegedly, it began at Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville. The founder Thornton Prince was a ladies’ man. After running around on his girlfriend during the Great Depression, she devised a revenge strategy. Instead of chewing him out she cooked him a meal of fried chicken made with fiery, hotter-than-hot spices. But Prince actually was a fan of the dish, and the rest, as they say, is history.

What are those fiery spices? Cayenne, and tons of it. This kick comes via Nashville hot chicken’s unique sauce, which is made using the oil you cook the chicken in. After dipping seasoned bone-in chicken in a combination of buttermilk, eggs and Tabasco sauce, fry it for 15 to 20 minutes. The oil gets a touch of heat from the Tabasco, and forms the base for the sauce, which is also infused with the aforementioned cayenne as well as paprika, chili powder and some brown sugar. You know, for balance.

If you’re not into the idea of saucing your chicken in fryer oil (though really, you should be), you can also incorporate a dry rub using cayenne, smoked ghost pepper powder and a little bit of white sugar. Watch both ways Peaches HotHouse in Brooklyn cooks Nashville hot chicken in the video below, via The Daily Meal’s YouTube channel.

Whether you want to go all-in on an oil-basted Nashville hot chicken or you want to keep it simple with a spicy dry rub, this cult favorite dish is surprisingly easy to make at home. All you have to do is then serve it on some white bread with pickles, and you have a sandwich that is truly worthy of the dinner table.

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

  • 4 pounds bone-in chicken pieces
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar-based hot sauce, such as Tabasco
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil, shortening, or lard for frying

For the spicy glaze:

  • 5 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • White bread, for serving
  • Pickles, for garnish

Directions:

For the chicken:

Step 1: Combine 4 pounds chicken parts, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper in a bowl, cover and chill for at least 3 hours to overnight.

Step 2: When you are ready to cook the chicken, combine 2 cups buttermilk, 4 eggs, and 1 1/2 tablespoons hot sauce in a bowl and whisk together.

Step 3: In another bowl, combine 4 cups flour and 1 teaspoon of salt in another bowl and whisk to combine.

Step 4: Dry the chicken off with paper towels, and dredge in the flour mixture. Tap off any excess flour back into the bowl, and dip into the buttermilk mixture. Then, dredge again in the flour, and set aside the chicken on a baking sheet.

Step 5: While you are finishing coating the chicken, heat about 2 inches of frying oil, shortening, or lard in a heavy pan or Dutch oven. Over medium-high heat, monitor the oil until it reaches 325 degrees F.

Step 6: Add the chicken pieces to the oil in batches, being sure not to overcrowd the pan. Fry the chicken until cooked through (white meat registers 160 degrees F and dark meat registers 165 degrees F on an instant read thermometer) and golden brown on both sides. This should take about 15-20 minutes.

Step 7: Set the chicken aside to cool slightly while you prepare the glaze. Reserve frying oil for glaze.

For the spicy glaze:

Step 1: While the chicken is resting, carefully combine 1 cup of the frying oil with 5 tablespoons cayenne pepper, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons each of chili powder, garlic powder, and paprika. Whisk gently to combine.

Step 2: Pour the hot sauce over the chicken, and serve on white bread with pickles for garnish.

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