Recipe: Nashville Hot Chicken

No visit to Nashville is complete without experiencing hot chicken—served with pickles and sliced bread.
 

Nashville Hot Chicken, photo by Jared Sych

Nashville Hot Chicken, photo by Jared Sych

 

When it comes to Nashville’s most-iconic dish, “Everyone has their own formulation,” says Isaac Beard, founder of Pepperfire Hot Chicken in Nashville. “Cayenne for the base heat, and then whatever it is that makes yours unique.” The spice is brushed over the crispy chicken as soon as it’s cooked. And, if it’s real Nashville hot chicken, it must be served on soft white bread with sliced pickles.

Read more: The Hilarious History of Nashville Hot Chicken

 

Recipe for Nashville Hot Chicken

Serves four to six

Ingredients

  • 1 fryer chicken, cut into pieces
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tsp Tabasco
  • Salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup canola or other neutral oil
  • 2 to 3 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Canola or neutral oil for deep frying
  • White bread
  • Sliced pickles

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk, Tabasco and a big pinch of salt; add the chicken pieces and coat. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight. Put flour in a shallow dish and season generously with salt. Remove each piece of chicken from the buttermilk and dredge in the flour, then place on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Dip the coated pieces again in the buttermilk and then the flour. Leave the pieces on the rack for 10 minutes to dry out a bit.
  2. Heat two to three inches of oil in a shallow pot or Dutch oven to 350°F, or until it’s hot, but not smoking—a scrap of bread should sizzle when dipped in. Cook a few pieces of chicken at a time, without crowding the pot, for about 8 minutes, turning as needed until deep golden. If you have a meat thermometer, the thickest part of the chicken should register 165°F.
  3. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel-lined plate while you whisk together the melted butter, oil, cayenne, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Brush mixture over the chicken while they’re still hot. Serve on white bread with sliced pickles.

 

[This recipe appears in the October 2018 issue of WestJet Magazine]