Food & Drink | March 2, 2021 8:58 am

How to Make This Restaurant-Quality Hot Chicken Sandwich at Home

John Seymour of Sweet Chick shares his recipe for a Nashville hot chicken sandwich

Sweet Chick's Nashville chicken sandwich.
Sweet Chick's Nashville chicken sandwich.
Nashish

Pleasurable and painful at the same time, real-deal Nashville chicken always comes complete with a spicy side of sadomasochism.

In fact, as legend has it, Nashville hot chicken was originally conceived as a punishment for a womanizing pig farmer who came home later after stepping out on his girlfriend on a Saturday night in the 1930s.

Angry that Thornton Prince III had been up to his old tricky on Saturday night, his lady doctored up his favorite food, fried chicken, with cayenne pepper and other spices in an effort to punish him for his transgressions.

The problem, as André Prince Jeffries, the owner of Nashville landmark Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, told NPR in 2016, was that he actually enjoyed the experience. “I’m sure when he bit into that — mmm! That brought him back around,” Jeffries said. “He liked his punishment, evidently.”

Prince liked his poultry penalty so much that he began to replicate the spicy fried chicken and sell it on weekends out of his home. He went on to open a small restaurant called the BBQ Chicken Shack that eventually became the Prince’s that today operates out of strip mall on the northeast side of Nashville, according to The New Yorker.

John Seymour, the founder of New York-based fried-chicken joint Sweet Chick, visited Prince’s during an information-gathering trip he took to help come up with a recipe for his restaurant’s take on Nashville chicken.

“After we went into the kitchen and made our first version, we went through a few variations and actually ended up going to Nashville to try some,” Seymour tells InsideHook. “We went to Prince’s. That was the reason I wanted to go down there, to be honest with you. It was awesome. We tried some other spots too. It was really a great way to see Nashville. I got to see the whole town that day.”

Instead of serving it on its own, Seymour and his team opted to put theirs on a Martin’s potato roll and top it off with pickles.

“Everybody’s got a different version. There are all types of heat levels, but I don’t want to die. That’s not my intention in eating Nashville hot chicken,” Seymour says. “I want to feel it, but I want to safely make it through and have a good experience. People should expect Nashville hot to be pretty spicy, but you’re not trying to turn people off from eating that sandwich ever again.”

In addition to using a different spice blend than other places, Sweet Chick makes its sandwich stand out from the pack by putting clarified butter instead of oil on top to create some juiciness to contrast with the Nashville-style dry rub.

“Butter is great on everything,” Seymour says. “It gives us a different consistency than other places, To me, that’s just what makes it extra delicious. It really is why it has that addictive type of taste. It’s currently my go-to sandwich option at Sweet Chick. I just love that flavor.”

To see if you will too, try making Sweet Chick’s Nashville chicken sandwich at home.

Sweet Chick’s Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich 


Ingredients

  • 2 tsp Nashville butter 
  • 1/4 tsp Nashville spice 
  • 1 Martin’s potato roll 
  • 1 Brined and dried chicken cutlet 
  • 3 Bread and butter pickles
  • Wet dredge 
  • Dry dredge 

Method 

  1. Dip chicken breast into wet dredge and then coat in dry dredge. 
  2. Fry in 300° F fryer for four minutes or until 165°. 
  3. Remove chicken breast from fryer and place in a bowl. 
  4. Toss with warm Nashville butter and 1/8 tsp Nashville spice (use shaker, about three shakes). 
  5. Flip chicken in a bowl and shake another 1/8 tsp Nashville spice on breast. 
  6. Split Martin’s roll open and coat top and bottom with melted butter using butter roller. 
  7. Place buttered side down on flat-top grill until nicely toasted. 
  8. Place sauced chicken on bottom bun. 
  9. Top with four pickle slices and put two shakes of Nashville spice on top of pickles. 
  10. Top with bun and serve.

For the Nashville butter and spice

Nashville butter

  • 1 Pound butter 
  • 2.5 T Chile de Arbol
  • 2.5 T Nashville Spice 

Nashville spice

  • 4 T Habanero
  • 7 T Cayenne 
  • 1/2 T Paprika
  • 2 T Brown sugar, packed
  1. Mix Nashville spices together evenly and put to the side.
  2. Clarify butter and let cool to exactly 190° F.
  3. Add chilis and hot spice mix and allow to steep 30 minutes.
  4. Strain chilis and spices. (Will enough butter and spice for at least two sandwiches).