Hey everybody!

Can you believe that it’s June already? It seems like May just stopped in for a hot second and we are well into the heat of summer. If the thermometer’s haven’t got you sweating at the collar already, maybe this will: hot chicken.

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I wasn’t really familiar with the concept of “hot chicken” until I came to Nashville. According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, hot chicken is a creation invented right here in Music City—chicken that has been marinated in buttermilk, breaded, and then spiced with cayenne and pan-fried. This local dish is so popular they even have a festival dedicated to it! There are a number of establishments specializing in hot chicken including Pepper Fire, Bolton’s, and Prince’s, but I decided to try the most famous of them all: Hattie B’s.

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It was noon on a weekday and the line was out the door. Apparently there’s something about this chicken that had everybody lining up—men in suits, policemen in uniforms, and now, Philip and I. Since it wasn’t likely that we were going to find a seat anywhere, we took our orders to go.

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Hattie B’s keeps it simple: you have your chicken with varying levels of heat: Southern (sweet), Mild (a little kick), Medium (turning up the heat), Damn Hot, and Shut the Cluck Up. I’m a little bit of a pansy when it comes to hot things, but I decided to buckle down and go with the medium. Hattie B’s also serves up some southern staples like greens, cole slaw, and potato salad, but I decided to get mac n’cheese. We headed back to Belmont and got ready for our first taste of hot chicken.

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As you can see, the cayenne gives the breading of the chicken a distinct orange flavor. I was glad I went for the bigger cup of lemonade, because I needed it, and two additional glasses of water, to make my way through. That chicken was HOT. But yet, I loved it. Rather than being soaked in a sauce, which would have made it mushy, the cayenne that the chicken is fried in helped it stay crisp on the outside and moist and flavorful on the inside. The mac and cheese helped to cut some of the heat, and despite having a tingling tongue for the next half an hour, I was incredibly satisfied.

I loved having hot chicken, not only because it was a Nashville creation but also because it’s just dang good food. I’ll be trying those other places I mentioned to see who’s the hottest joint, but Hattie B’s will not leave you disappointed. Just be sure that you’re ready to take the heat ;)

xoxo,

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