Fried Chicken Day

Spicy, crunchy, fried trend from Nashville lights Dallas restaurants on fire

Spicy fried trend from Nashville lights Dallas restaurants on fire

Yard House, Nashville hot chicken
Yard House is one of the restaurants in Dallas serving a Nashville-style chicken specialty. Photo courtesy of Yard House

As one chicken trend fades, another rises. With chicken and waffles now served in one form or another at every restaurant in Dallas, another chicken dish swoops in to take its place as the new foodie thing: Nashville hot chicken.

This regional specialty which originated in Nashville is now served on menus in at least three places around Dallas:

  • Super Chix, the chicken-sandwich place from Yum Brands, which has branches in Arlington and North Dallas
  • Yard House the beer-friendly chain from California with a branch in Addison
  • Rapscallion, the Southern food restaurant on Greenville Avenue from the owners of Boulevardier

Nashville hot chicken is fried chicken that's dabbed with a spicy oil paste doctored with cayenne pepper and other spices of choice. The internet credits Prince's Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville with creating it. A recipe from Hattie B's, another Nashville spot noted for the dish, calls for marinating the chicken in buttermilk, frying it, then brushing it with a spicy oil containing cayenne, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder and paprika. Like barbecue, it's serve with bread and pickles.

In Dallas, it first surfaced at Super Chix, where it takes all of the dish's required components — chicken, bread, pickles — and combines them into a Nashville hot chicken sandwich.

Super Chix president Nick Ouimet first encountered Nashville hot chicken when he lived in Kentucky, and says he's tasted billions of spicy chicken sandwiches.

"We've had a ton of people asking for something hot and spicy," he says. "We wanted a hot sandwich on our menu but it had to be something unique, something that would broaden our menu in a way that was interesting and consistent with what we do."

They serve it on the same bun as their regular chicken sandwich, but the rest of the ingredients are handled differently.

"We have a special marinade and a different breading, and we do it in a different fryer," he says. "Ours isn't the traditional bone-in chicken with a pickle on top and a slice of white bread. We specialize in sandwiches. But this is a whole deal for us."

A big quandary was how hot to go. "Deciding on the heat level was tough," Ouimet says. "Ours is not 'kind of hot,' it's hot. But at Hattie's and Prince's, they have a range of hot. Their 'not hot' is very hot. Ours would be on the lower level of what they call hot."

Yard House takes a different route on presentation by serving its Nashville hot chicken with sweet potato pancakes. The chefs take a skinless breast, batter and deep-fry it, and then douse it in a spice mix that includes chipotle powder, cayenne pepper and brown sugar. In addition to the pancakes, the chicken comes with pickles, ranch dressing and honey hot sauce — like a chicken-and-waffles spin on Nashville hot chicken.

That takes us full circle.

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