In the next few months, Henny Penny will be rolling out a “Nashville Heat” melt-on topical seasoning. We’ve tried it at here at the office and we’ve gotta say – – its’s got a KICK!
“A bold blend of spices that will treat your taste buds to the Music City’s famous hot chicken. Apply this topical melt-on seasoning to taste after frying in your favorite Henny Penny breading.”
In celebration of this new product, we’ve decided to give you the run-down on how the original Nashville Hot Chicken is made! Born at Prince’s Chicken in Nashville, TN, “hot chicken” has a pretty funny origin story.
“More than 70 years ago, Thornton Prince came home after a night of tomcatting to find his lady waiting at home, none too pleased. To teach him a lesson, she doctored his Sunday morning chicken with a wallop of spice. “Hot peppers from the garden, I’m sure,” says Andre Prince, the restaurant’s current owner, and great-granddaughter of that fabled philanderer whose infidelities birthed the now-iconic dish. “She was furious—but he liked it! He liked his punishment. It’s just a rumor,” she adds; “I wasn’t there, have mercy. But I know how the Prince men are. They’re known for being ladies’ men.”
There are plenty more hot chicken locations in the Nashville area now, so let’s see how Hattie B’s gets their chicken so hot!
How Do They Do It?
“Much fried chicken begins with brining, but since he’s not dealing with whole chickens, Lasater opts for a sort of mini-curing process. He first readies his breading mixture, another proprietary blend of flour, spices, garlic, and salt and pepper, in a contraption that shakes it into fine crumbs and weeds out any large clumps. When the bottom of the sifting bin is removed, the breading falls into a bin beneath, and it’s here that our raw breast takes its first dip in the breading.”
“Once the breast is thoroughly coated, Lasater dunks it in a wash of eggs, water, milk, salt and pepper, and a splash of Crystal hot sauce. Then it’s back to the breading for dip two. ‘Always keep one hand wet, one hand dry.’ A double-dip in the breading ensures that the chicken will have a thick, crispy crust, traditional Southern-style. Then the breast is off to the fryer. Hattie B’s uses a soy-based shortening for frying, ‘the closest thing we can get to lard,’ Lasater says. ‘It has a nice creaminess to it that mixes really well with our breading blend.'”
“18 to 20 minutes later, the breast is cooked through and ready to exit the fryer. This is the magic moment: Lasater readies a bowl of that blend of dry spices. Into it he pours in the magma of chickeny shortening, fresh from the fryer, to make a sauce. ‘If the oil is hot, it keeps the crust crispy,’ says Lasater, ‘You bite into it and get that crunch.'”
“As traditional preparation dictates, the breast sits upon a slice of white bread (Hattie B’s uses Klosterman’s, a Nashville bakery), crowned by a couple of pickle chips. It’s a fierce, mouth-watering sight: Hattie B’s has an especially rich, red hue, and their portions are not skimpy.”
[Excerpts via Susannah Felts’ article “The Bird That Bites Back: How Nashville Hot Chicken is Made” on SeriousEats.com]