Cast Iron

Nashville-Style Hot Chicken Sandwich

March 19, 2018
Photo by Bobbi Lin
Author Notes

This was inspired by a visit to Nashville, when I ate at Hattie B's and wept with joy (and, okay, cayenne). Hot chicken is fried chicken, re-dipped in fry oil that has been very generously spiced. I adapted this method from the Hattie B's recipe on the Food Network website. And to tame the signature burn, I turned it into a sandwich, with a squishy bun, sweet pickles, iceberg lettuce, and lots of mayo. —Emma Laperruque

  • Makes 4 sandwiches
Ingredients
  • Fried chicken
  • Peanut oil, for frying
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons ground cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Sandwich
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce
  • Mayonnaise
  • 4 soft sesame seed buns
  • Bread-and-butter pickle chips
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Add a scant 1/2 inch of peanut oil to a cast-iron skillet. Set that over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, set up your dredging station: flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and a pinch of salt in a shallow bowl; buttermilk, hot sauce, egg, and a pinch of salt in another shallow bowl. Whisk each mixture with a fork until well combined.
  2. Bread the chicken thighs: First, season the chicken with salt. Now, dredge in the dry mixture, then dunk in the buttermilk, then back into the dry. Transfer to a plate to hang out while the oil reaches temperature—figure 360° F to 375° F. If you don’t have a thermometer, drop a piece of flour mixture into the pan. It should instantly sizzle but not burn.
  3. When the oil is hot, gingerly add the breaded chicken thighs. (If there isn’t enough space for all of them, do this in batches—overcrowding is not worth it!) Fry for about 4 1/2 minutes per side. Sprinkle with salt when done.
  4. While they’re frying, combine the cayenne, brown sugar, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper in a heatproof bowl. When you’re done frying the chicken, add about 1/2 cup hot frying oil to the bowl with the spices and whisk until smooth. Dunk the fried chicken in the spiced oil. (If it gets too thick at any point, just thin out with a little more hot oil.)
  5. Build the sandwiches! Toss the lettuce with a little mayo and a pinch of salt. Slather a bottom bun half with mayo, then layer with pickles. Top with chicken, then lettuce. Slather a top bun half with more mayo, then close the sandwich. Repeat. Eat immediately.

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Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.