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And the Valley Cooks: Nashville Grilled Hot Chicken

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A spin on a Nashville staple

Nashville On Fire Dinner Hosted By Jonathan Waxman, Hattie B’s, Tandy Wilson, Patrick Martin And Diego Oka - 2015 Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Photo by Dylan Rives/Getty Images

I’ve lived in Nashville for about 18 months now and one thing I’ve learned is these people love them some hot chicken.

And for good reason, Nashville is the hot chicken capital of the world. The city has what feels like an infinite amount of hot chicken joints and it all starts and stops with Prince’s Hot Chicken, the originator.

While Prince’s is considered the father of Nashville style hot chicken, Hattie B’s gets most of the credit for putting it on the radar opening up restaurants in Birmingham, Memphis, Atlanta, and Las Vegas.

You can find a hot chicken recipe with a quick Google search and it’s pretty easy—although time consuming—to make. I’ve fried up my own imitation Hattie B’s twice and came away exceptionally pleased with it. But over the weekend I wanted to try something different, instead of frying it I tried my hand at grilling it up. Overall? I’m pretty happy with it but there’s some tweaks I’ll need to make when I try it again.

Ingredients

3 Tbsp cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp brown sugar

12 tsp chili powder

12 tsp paprika

12 tsp garlic powder

12 cup vegetable oil

2 lbs chicken tenderloin

My biggest mistake with this was I didn’t have tenderloin meat, I had breast meat that still had bone. I knew it wouldn’t quite work out but I needed to make room in my freezer. Anyway the meat was a little too thick (if anyone wants to send me a meat tenderizer my birthday is May 31!) so the chicken didn’t really thoroughly absorb the marinade.

I also didn’t get to let it marinade as long as it probably should have. The recipe I found called for it to marinade for at least two hours. But my apartment complex only has one grill and I wanted to get down to it before the sun set so I pulled it after maybe an hour and a half.

Making the marinade is pretty straightforward, you just dump all the spices and powder into a bowl and mix it with the oil. If you’re feeling reckless you could up the proportions of the cayenne or chili powder. When I go back and make this again I’ll probably up the ante.

After it’s all mixed up that’s really all there is. Just put the chicken in a ziplock bag, pour the marinade in and let it sit. You’ll probably want to let it sit longer than I did, but again I think my biggest misstep was the kind of meat not necessarily pulling it too soon.

Then it was just a matter of grilling. The recipe I found said cook each side 8 to 12 minutes, but since I was dealing with breast meat I had to go a lot longer.

I also threw some corn on the grill to serve as my side and I’m really proud of how the corn came out.

All in all I’m reasonably satisfied with the finished product. I’m going to try this again using the right kind of meat and I may even let it marinade overnight to give it the kick that was sorely lacking. If you’re trying this at home and want the full Nashville experience try pairing it with some white bread and pickle chips and you can’t go wrong with fries or mac and cheese for the side.