Nashville Hot Chicken Sliders

Fried chicken and hot sauce go together like pizza and ranch (don’t knock it until you try it), and in Nashville Tennessee the famed “Hot Chicken” will make you break into a full on sweat. You’re gonna love this!

Music: http://bensound.com

Background:

Hot Chicken is an African-American invention which has been shared and passed down through generations in Nashville, Tennessee. It is widely accepted that the Prince family came up with the idea. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack is known to be the birthplace of Hot Chicken, and Hot Chicken is still sold there today. If you’re in Nashville then this is a must stop for the chance to try some of the hottest chicken in the country.

My recipe is not as hot as Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack as I’m aiming for a broader audience. But it’ll still make you sweat and you’ll get the idea. If you want to increase the heat you can easily add more Cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes to taste until you have it where you want it. Just remember this pasty hot sauce builds heat up over time… In other words you won’t be able to tell how hot it is right away like you would if you took a bite out of Ed Currie’s Carolina Reaper or Pepper X. Not to worry, we’re not trying to make anything as hot as a Carolina Reaper pepper here.

How It’s Served:

Hot Chicken is commonly served over white bread and topped with pickles. Hot Chicken can be breast, thighs, or even wings depending on the restaurant and how they prepare them. It’s most often flour breaded then deep fried. The sauce can be as thick as a heavy past, or a little thinner to where the spices evenly coat the breading. The chicken can be tossed in it, or the sauce can be drizzled over top. Some restaurants even serve the sauce on the side. So you have a lot of options here!

It pairs well with creamy coleslaw or baked mac and cheese, even a nice spread of mayonnaise. These pairings help to neutralize the spice some.

Buttermilk Soak:

This is THE MOST important step to making great fried chicken. The enzymes in buttermilk break down protein chains in the chicken making it extremely tender, but the trick is to get the time down right. If you’re not soaking it for at least 2 hours you’re just getting your chicken wet before you dredge it in flour-breading which you could do with whisked eggs for that matter.

For optimal results your chicken should soak for 24 hours in buttermilk. You don’t want to let it go too much longer than that however, otherwise the chicken will strangely get tough over time! In my personal experience the sweet spot is between 24-28 hours, so an overnight soak is very practical here.

My Southern-Style Flour Breading:

Fried chicken is good with batter or flour breading, but just prefer the light crispiness of deep fried flour-breaded chicken. What makes mine southern is the touch of Cayenne pepper I add to it, giving it a little Cajun influence which is common throughout the southeast United States.

Frying Technique:

Deep fry. So we’ll submerge the chicken in oil (as best you can if you’re using a skillet), and keep the temperature in the range of 350°F to 375°F. Vegetable oil works best here as it makes a clean and crispy, lightly browned outside to the flour-breading.

The chicken needs to temp at 165°F minimal, which should be easy to achieve since we’re using thin-sliced breast. Deep frying is done at lower temps so the cook time is increased. Deep frying takes 10-15 minutes minimum to cook chicken to temp, however depending on the amount of chicken pieces added at one time this may take 15-20 minutes to reach internal temperature. In other words, 8-10 minutes per side.

If your oil reaches 400°F and above you are now flash frying, which sears the outer layer of chicken as well as the breading or batter. Flash frying prevents oil from penetrating deep into the internal ingredients of what it is that you’re frying. If you try and flash fry chicken you’ll likely burn the outside long before you reach internal temp that is safe for consumption. So unless it’s something that cooks really really fast, like rock shrimp, or onion straws, I would not recommend flash frying. Keep that temperature down between 350°F to 375°F.

Ingredients: (Makes 4 Sliders)

  • 1/2 lbs. Thin-Sliced Chicken Breast.
  • 1 Cup Cultured Buttermilk.
  • 1 Ounce Pickle Juice.
  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour.
  • 4 Cups Vegetable Oil (does not reflect on Nutrition Facts).
  • 2 Tablespoons Packed Brown Sugar.
  • 2 Tablespoons Cayenne Pepper.
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt.
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper.
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder.
  • 1 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes.
  • 1/2 teaspoon Paprika.
  • 4 Slider Buns.
  • 12 Pickle Chips.
  • 2 Ounces Mayonnaise (optional).

Nutrition Facts: (Per 1 Slider)

  • Calories: 400
  • Total Fat: 22g
  • – Saturated: 3g
  • – Trans: 0g
  • – Poly: 11g
  • Cholesterol: 45mg
  • Sodium: 700mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 35g
  • Dietary Fiber: 2g
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Protein: 19g
  • Vitamin D: 0%
  • Calcium: 4%
  • Iron: 5%
  • Potassium: 77mg
  • Vitamin A: 12%
  • Vitamin C: 2%

Directions:

  1. Trim fat and cut each thin-sliced chicken breast into halves. Each half with be used for one slider.
  2. In a mixing bowl add chicken breast pieces. Pour in 1 Cup of cultured buttermilk and 1 ounce of pickle juice to every 1 lbs. of chicken breast used. If your chicken breast is less than 1 lbs. of meat, don’t worry about the conversion just stick with 1 Cup of cultured buttermilk and 1 ounce of pickle juice for your buttermilk soak. Seal it up and refrigerate overnight. Minimum soak time is 2 hours, but for optimal results soak for 24-28 hours.
  3. Make Nashville Hot Chicken Sauce. In a mixing bowl add 1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil (increase to 1/2 Cup if you want it thinner), 2 Tablespoons each of packed brown sugar and Cayenne pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of each; kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and crushed red pepper flakes. Whisk together until fully combined then refrigerate until you’re ready to cook.
  4. Once chicken has soaked in buttermilk add 1 Cup of all purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon of each to a mixing bowl: kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and Cayenne pepper. This will be our flour breading for the chicken.
  5. Dredge chicken in flour breading and make sure it is well coated. Use your knuckles to press flour breading into chicken, then lightly toss or fluff to coat.
  6. In a 12″-14″ skillet add enough vegetable oil to reach 2″-3″ of oil. Heat to 350°F to 375°F to deep fry. Once temperature is achieved gently lay chicken pieces into hot oil to fry for 8-10 minutes per side. Internal temperature of chicken should be a minimum of 165°F.
  7. Plate sliders. You may add a spread of mayonnaise to slider buns if desired as this will help neutralize the heat some, but this recipe is not as hot as some of the restaurants in Nashville, Tennessee so that’s entirely up to you. Plate with fried chicken, top with sauce, and three pickle chips per slider. Serve, and enjoy! Oh and don’t forget the napkins!

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