Nashville Hot Chicken: Fiery, Juicy, And Made At Home

Nashville hot chicken is officially a thing. It typically can be made anywhere from mild to extra hot and is both painful and addictive.

This zippy variation on fried chicken was created in Nashville at Prince's Hot Chicken Shack and is now served citywide and has caught on nationwide. Hattie B's is another famous hot chicken shack in Nashville. Some KFC restaurants are even serving a version.

The origin story is a doozy. Apparently Thorton Prince was a ladies’ man and when he got home late one evening after consorting with a lady friend, his live-in girlfriend was fried. According to Prince’s website, "Instead of a lecture the next morning, Prince awoke to the sizzlin’ smell of fried chicken. The trap set, Prince’s cuckolded lover served up a plate of homemade fried chicken. Without noticing the devilish amount of peppers and spices she had sprinkled on the chicken, Prince dug in. Much to her dismay, Prince didn’t fall over weeping in pain. Nope, he asked for seconds, and, at that moment, the legend was born. Thorton Prince’s great niece, Ms. Andre Prince Jeffries, is still serving the legendary dish."

The variations on the theme start with crispy fried chicken that is dipped, brushed, or showered with a hot peppers mixed with some of the fry oil. Most places guard their recipe as carefully as KFC guards theirs, but here's my unguarded improved version.

If you like fried chicken and the tang of Buffalo chicken wings, this recipe is for you. Popularized in Nashville, this recipe puts some extra zip in your fried chicken. Before you start frying, please read my background article on the concepts of frying at home and how to do it best, on a gas grill.

Makes. 10 pieces (1 whole chicken)

Takes. 15 minutes prep

Ingredients

6 tablespoons unsalted butter or bacon fat

6 tablespoons dried hot chiles of your choice (Cayenne is traditional but I use chipotle powder)

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons of sweet American-style paprika

2 tablespoons of mustard powder

1 tablespoon of ground black pepper

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoons Morton's kosher salt

10 pieces fried chicken (1 whole chicken with the breast lobes split in half)

Method

1) Cook. To create the Nashville Heat, melt the butter of bacon fat over medium heat, add the rest of the ingredients (except the chicken) and let it sit for 30 minutes or so on the lowest setting.

2) Fry the chicken.

3) Prep. Dunk the chicken in the Nashville Heat or paint it on with a basting brush.

3) Serve. Tradition says to serve with pickle slices on white bread.

"As a small business owner, an interviewer once asked me what keeps me awake at night. I answered "Nashville Hot Chicken.""Meathead

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