The Hot, Hot Chicken Day Thread

Having spent most of my formative years living in Nashville, I have some pretty strong opinions on regional cuisine. I love Maine lobster rolls. The pizza in Brooklyn is wonderful. But there’s no doubt in my mind that Southern comfort food is the King of all American food. And when it comes to fried chicken, no one does it better than Nashville. Hot Chicken is perhaps the epitome of what defines Real Southern Cuisine: wildly flavorful; righteously unhealthy. Oh baby, this chicken has it all.

If you’re not familiar, Hot Chicken is essentially what it sounds like—really, really spicy fried chicken that’s coated in cayenne pepper. Here’s how it’s traditionally made: The chicken is marinated in a spicy buttermilk-cayenne mixture. Then, they fry that chicken up. If you ordered the “plain” spice level, the Fun Train stops here. Take note, that chicken is already going to be spicier than your run-of-the-mill buttermilk fried chicken. And be warned, this chicken only gets hotter (and, dare I say, sexier) from here.

For the “mild” spice level up to “XXXHot”, the fried chicken is then coated in a warm, spicy paste made from three parts cayenne pepper to one part lard. That’s right, you heard me: Lard. Hot Chicken has no false pretenses. Eating this stuff just once will take days to weeks off of your life. Worth it? Yes.

The higher the spice level you choose, the more cayenne-lard is applied onto your chicken. To serve, this bad boy gets placed on top of some white bread (if it’s completely devoid of nutrients, it’ll work here) and topped with pickles. It may look strange, but these components are key for helping cut through the spiciness of the chicken as you eat this thing. For best results, order with a side of something mayo- or dairy-heavy, like potato salad, to eat between bites of chicken and reduce your odds of spice-related stroke.

princes-hot-chicken-646

Ohhhh, yeah. Just look at that.

But be warned, this chicken is Intense with a capital ‘I.’ Not everyone can handle the upper spice echelons. I once ate a piece of XHot from Prince’s and cried. It was painful and wonderful all at once. But I learned my lesson: Medium is my happy place.

So, if you’re ever in Nashtown, head on over to Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack—the originator of Hot Chicken. You won’t regret it. But, for the love of God, please enjoy responsibly.

(Also, this is my first-ever Open Thread. I really had no idea what to write about, so I just went with what I know. Which is greasy, spicy Southern food. I hope I did this thing right.)