Recipes

Nashville-Style Hot Chicken

Carla Hall's hot chicken is all about that crispy, chile-oil-dunked skin
32 Ratings
100% would make again
Nashville-Style Hot Chicken
Photo: Dave Katz/Tasting Table

Nashville's signature fried chicken dish has thick, crispy skin that's dunked in chile oil for a fiery finish, and Top Chef favorite Carla Hall's version is no different. Little more is needed to round it all out other than a slice of soft, white bread and a couple of pickles.

When you're cooking fried chicken in a cast-iron skillet, prevent any dark spots by using a pair of metal tongs to occasionally nudge the chicken around.

Also, you'll want to save the excess spiced oil to drizzle onto fried eggs, sandwiches and roasted vegetables. The longer the oil sits, the spicier it becomes, so Hall suggests straining out the spices after two weeks.

To learn more, read "Hot Chicken in the City."

Nashville-Style Hot Chicken

Recipe adapted from Carla Hall's Southern Kitchen, Brooklyn, New York, NY

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus brining time

Cook Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour and 50 minutes, plus brining time

Ingredients

For the Brine:

8 chicken thighs

1 cup sliced dill pickles

1 cup dill pickle juice

½ cup water

1 habanero pepper, stem removed

¼ cup kosher salt

2 teaspoons sugar

For the Hot Chicken:

2 cups all-­purpose flour

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper

About 4 cups canola oil, for frying

For the Spicy Oil:

3 tablespoons cayenne pepper

3 teaspoons smoked paprika

3 teaspoons sweet paprika

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

4 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons sugar

4 cups canola oil

To Serve:

6 to 8 slices white bread

½ cup sliced pickles

Toothpicks (optional)

Directions

1. Make the brine: Place the chicken in a gallon-size Ziploc bag. In a blender, combine the pickles, pickle juice, water, habanero pepper, salt and sugar, and mix on medium speed until smooth. Pour the brine over the chicken and seal the bag. Chill for 4 to 8 hours.

2. Remove the chicken from the brine and lay the thighs in a single layer, skin-sides up, on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Chill, uncovered, for 1 hour.

3. Make the hot chicken: In a large bowl, combine the flour, paprika, cayenne, salt and black pepper. Dredge the chicken thighs in the seasoned flour, then pat them between your hands to shake off excess. Return the chicken to the wire rack, reserving the seasoned flour, and chill another 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, make the spicy oil: In a large saucepan, combine the cayenne, smoked and sweet paprika, cumin, garlic powder, salt and sugar. Place over medium heat and toast until fragrant, stirring often, 2 minutes. Slowly add the oil and heat for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and keep warm. Make ahead: Let the oil cool to room temperature, then store in the fridge, covered, for up to 2 weeks.

5. Dredge the chicken thighs in the reserved flour once more and return them to the wire rack. Chill in the fridge for a final 30 minutes.

6. Line a clean rimmed sheet tray with a clean wire rack and set aside. Attach a deep-fry thermometer to a large cast-iron skillet, and fill it with oil to a ½-inch depth. Place the skillet over medium-high heat until a thermometer registers 365°. Working in 2 batches, lay the chicken thighs in the hot oil, skin-sides down and away from you, and cook until the bottoms are deep golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Carefully flip and continue to cook until the each chicken thigh is deep brown, and a meat thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the thigh registers 160°, another 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the wire rack and repeat with the remaining thighs.

7. Using a large slotted spoon, dunk the fried chicken into the hot oil, turning to coat both sides.

8. To serve, lay the bread slices on a large platter and top with the fried chicken and pickles.

Malawach (Flaky Bread) →

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