Soul Food Monday – Nashville Hot Chicken

Today is the Nashville Hot Chicken Festival so I thought it would be appropriate to experiment with this Nashville food icon today. When I moved to Nashville 15 years ago, I had never heard of “hot chicken” so nothing had prepared me for tasting this blazing hot classic. My first hot chicken experience was at Prince’s Chicken, who has put this spicy bird on the map. I remember waiting for 45 minutes for a medium heat leg quarter served with plain white bread and pickles. I thought it was going to be similar to buffalo wings – drenched in a tangy sauce with a moderate amount of heat. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Hot chicken is fried like you would regular homestyle chicken. When it comes out of the skillet ( yes Princes uses cast iron skillets), hot grease infused with spices is poured over blisteringly hot chicken.

I’ve experimented with hot chicken several times over the years but this is the first time I’ve cooked the spices first. Cooking them first amps up the flavor and gets rid of the powdery taste. I couldn’t bring myself to use oil so I dry toasted them in a skillet. The thought of pouring hot grease over fried chicken didn’t quite work for me. After toasting them, I added a little water to make a thin sauce and brushed it on the chicken immediately after I removed it from the skillet. This cuts down on the fat a little without changing the taste much.

Nashville Hot Chicken

Ingredients

Brine

  • 6 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 lbs cut up chicken parts - I used 4 thighs

Sauce

  • 2 quarts peanut or vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  1.  Mix water, hot sauce, salt, and sugar in large bowl until salt and sugar dissolve. Add chicken, cover, and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.
  2. Mix cayenne, paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and sugar in a small bowl. Cook in small skillet over low heat until fragrant, about 30 to 45 seconds.  Add water and mix until well combined. Return to bowl.
  3. Remove chicken from refrigerator and pour off brine. Combine flour and pepper in large bowl. Coat chicken with flour and set aside.
  4. Heat oil in large Dutch oven or skillet to 350 degrees. Fry chicken for 20 to 25 minutes. Drain on wire rack.
  5. Immediately brush spice mixture on both sides of chicken.

Toast spices in a skillet until fragrant.

A water to form a thin sauce.

Coat chicken with flour and set aside until oil gets hot.

Brush chicken with spice mixture.

Hot chicken with bread. The only thing missing is the pickles.

1 Comment

  1. Lannae
    July 12, 2011

    Oh, I wish I was at your house instead of standing in line. Looks so delicious!

    Reply

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