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Nashville Hot Chicken

Tennessee’s capital is known not only for its legendary music scene (it’s often called the Music City) but also for its cuisine. If you have the pleasure of visiting Nashville you can find everything from Southern staples to foodie fare. But there’s one dish you can’t leave the ‘ville without trying – hot chicken.

Our Nashville Hot Chicken recipe is a Music City speciality. The spicy fried chicken is red in color thanks to the hefty portion of cayenne pepper added to the batter. The dish is customarily served on plain white bread with pickles. The white bread helps soak up the spice in the dish while the tangy pickles help cool the palate.

The Consumer Test Kitchen decided to break out the deep fryer, turn on some honky-tonk, and make our own version of a hot chicken recipe. They coated the chicken in a spicy batter (with plenty of cayenne, of course) and deep fried it until crispy. In true Nashville fashion we served it over plain white bread and speared a few dill pickle chips on top.

To add a little bit of sweetness to this spicy dish, we brushed the fried chicken with a mixture of butter, brown sugar, and onion powder before serving. The glaze adds a nice sheen to the chicken while softening the heat a bit.

If you can’t make the trip down to Nashville, heat up some oil and make your own at home. Just make sure you have a few extra pickles and your favorite Johnny Cash record on loop to complete the experience.

Nashville Hot Chicken

Yield: Serves 6
Author: Hamilton Beach Test Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar based hot sauce, divided
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons cayenne pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons paprika, divided
  • 2 teaspoons coarse black pepper, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds thinly cut chicken breasts
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • Sliced white bread
  • Dill pickle chips

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat milk, 2 tablespoons vinegar based hot sauce, white vinegar, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon paprika and 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper until well blended. Add chicken pieces and toss until chicken is coated. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Heat deep fryer to 350°F. Drain chicken pieces.
  3. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine flour, kosher salt, 2 teaspoons paprika, remaining 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper.
  4. In a shallow bowl, mix beaten eggs with remaining 1 tablespoon hot sauce and 1 teaspoon paprika. Place several pieces of chicken at a time in bag of seasoned flour. Seal bag and shake to coat chicken pieces. Repeat until all chicken pieces are coated. Dip the coated chicken in egg mixture and repeat with flour.
  5. Place coated chicken in a single layer in deep fryer basket and carefully lower basket into the preheated oil.
  6. Fry chicken until meat thermometer has reached 165°F. and coating is crisp, about 2 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir butter, brown sugar and onion powder. Brush butter mixture over each piece of fried chicken.
  8. Serve on white bread and dill pickle chips.

The Hamilton Beach Professional-Style Deep Fryer easily feeds a crowd with its 12-cup food capacity.

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