The main component that transforms fried chicken into iconic Nashville Hot Chicken, is slathering it in a cayenne paste that’s primarily a mixture of the ground red cayenne pepper and frying oil. The crispy chicken is covered with a deliciously spicy sauce and is absolutely scrumptious.
- 2 3 1/2-4-pound chickens, each cut into 10 pieces
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups buttermilk or whole milk
- 2 tablespoons vinegar-based hot sauce
- Oil for frying
- 6 tablespoons cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Toss chicken with black pepper and 2 tablespoon salt in a large bowl. Cover and chill at least 3 hours.
- Whisk eggs, buttermilk, and hot sauce in a large bowl. Whisk flour and remaining 4 teaspoons salt in another large bowl.
- Fit an oven with the thermometer; pour in oil to measure 2″. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 325°. Pat chicken dry.
- Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge in flour mixture, shaking off excess, then dip in buttermilk mixture, letting excess drip back into the bowl. Dredge again in flour mixture and place on a baking sheet.
- Working in 4 batches and returning oil to 325° between batches, fry chicken, turning occasionally, until skin is deep golden brown and crisp and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of pieces registers 160° for white meat and 165° for dark, 15-18 minutes.
- Transfer to a clean wire rack set inside a baking sheet. Let oil cool slightly.
- Whisk cayenne, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, and paprika in a medium bowl; carefully whisk in 1 cup frying oil.
- Brush fried chicken with spicy oil. Serve with bread and pickles.