Darlins! I gotta tell you sumpin'. DIVA DON'T LIKE FRIED CHICKEN. I don't. Honestly! I never buy it, I never order it out and I never make it. When I was growing up and then throughout my adult life, whenever I was served fried chicken, I would take a breast, peel all the skin off and then eat the meat, tossing the fried skin away! YEP. I was wastin' that good, crispy fried chicken skin. And I could have cared less about the wings and thighs, just save me a nice breast. Chicken legs grossed me out.
BUT MY OH MY HAVE THINGS CHANGED.
Including my palate.
Over time, as I continued exploring different dishes from various regions in my own country and the globe, I've learned to be more open-minded to trying new tastes and techniques and thus spreading my culinary wings. And I'm so glad I have.
I had been toying with the idea of making fried chicken for some time now. With the resurgence of interest in good ol' Southern cooking as well as actually moving to Southern Florida nine years ago, I thought it was high time I put aside my fried chicken hate. I am, technically, a Southerner now.
Besides seeing various recipes cropping up about how to make "the perfect fried chicken," I started to notice recipes for another style of fried chicken called "Nashville Hot Chicken." The recipe was enticing because La Diva likes it HOT and seeing as I love me some Buffalo chicken wings, I found this recipe that included tablespoons of cayenne pepper more than intriguing! How hot would it be? How hot can I take? "BRING IT, BABY," I thought to myself.
And then along came the June issue of Bon Appetit and what did I find but a recipe for the Nashville (style) hot chicken! This was more than a coincidence, this was meant to be.
What is unique about this style of fried chicken is not the hot sauce-laced buttermilk marinade but the very spicy sauce you brush on the chicken after frying. After seasoning the chicken with salt and pepper, you leave it in the fridge to get nice and cold. Then you dredge the chicken pieces in flour, shake off excess, dip into the buttermilk mixture and then dredge again, shake and fry.
When the chicken is done, you drain it and then slather on a heavy dose of spices mixed with the frying oil, including paprika, garlic powder, brown sugar, chile powder and tablespoons of cayenne pepper. TABLESPOONS! This recipe called for six! The mixture of spicy, sweet and salty is a perfectly delectable combination, almost guaranteeing addiction! Serving the chicken over white bread with pickles completes the dish.
Here's a piece of steaming hot chicken wing for you to drool over. Remember how I said that I used to only eat the chicken breast? NO MORE! I now LOVE dark meat. First of all, chicken wings are really the bridge chicken piece to eating dark meat. SERIOUSLY. And then when I started to realize that if I cook the thighs and legs long enough, most of that gross fat that I hated would melt away leaving only succulent and tasty, moist chicken meat! Try it yourself and see if you dislike dark meat.
Here's the recipe from Bon Appetit and a link as well. Some of the commenters have suggested that this isn't the 'real' recipe. Well, La Diva ain't gettin' into all that! Like spaghetti bolognese, I'm CERTAIN that every family or chicken shack in Nashville has their own version. But this one is from a Nashville restaurant that is pretty famous for making it, Hattie B's, so I'm going with it. And besides, it turned out delicious!
I cut the recipe in half for just the two of us. (Diva doan need to be eatin' fried chicken for days, y'allmean?!) Supposedly, you some people go even hotter by adding more cayenne. I was fine with the three tablespoons, even though I could probably go much hotter, The DJ was happy as a pig in mud, just the same.
RESULT: HOT damn, this chicken is goooood! AND I ain't lyin'! The skin was nice and crispy, the combination of spicy and sweet flavors is totally addictive. My suggestion for success is to use an instant read thermometer in order to closely monitor the oil's temperature as well as checking each piece of chicken well before the suggested cooking time was up. This recipe is definitely not for the faint-hearted or for those dieting.
At suppertime, the DJ cranked out some good ol' blues music while we enjoyed our dinner al fresco on our balcony, not a word passed between us but mere grunts and moans of delight. THAT'S HOW GOOD IT WAS. The white bread is perfect for quelling the heat and the sweet bread and butter pickles were a great foil for the chicken too.
Do you see that coleslaw on my plate? Well, most of it is there....because I couldn't be bothered to put down my delicious chicken and pick up a fork. I was tempted to eat the slaw with my hands, but hey, I'm not that trashy! But more importantly, I am now a FRIED CHICKEN CONVERT. I loves it. But only once in a while, it's too dangerously addictive otherwise!
Ciao for now, darlings!