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Everything You Need to Know About KFC’s Nashville Hot Chicken

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Courtesy of KFC

Pittsburgh is sitting on something the rest of us want pretty badly -- KFC’s take on Nashville hot chicken, the delicious, spicy, fried Tennessee culinary specialty. But KFC is about to share the love, with a national roll out of its hottest (har) new menu item, which is currently making the rounds with a food truck tour of eight different Nashvilles (apparently, there are way more towns called "Nashville" than anyone realized) across America. We sat down with KFC’s chef, Bob Das, to find out what you need to know about their spin on this Southern classic before you get in line.

Courtesy of KFC

1. They're keeping it classic

If it ain't broke... follow the traditional method of applying the hot sauce after frying. Also in keeping with tradition, Bob says the heat of that sauce is made chiefly with traditional cayenne, helped along with “additional black pepper and some smoked paprika dust.”
 

2. And serving it that way too

With pickle chips & coleslaw for a complete eating circuit of briny, creamy, and spicy. And repeat. 
 

3. But it’s still their take on it

And yours too -- folks will have their pick of hot chicken on the bone or hot chicken as tenders, instead of just the on the bone plate that’s usually on the menu. Plus, you might have noticed they’re swapping out the slice of white bread for a biscuit to sop up that spicy sauce.
 

4. And you can go beyond the classic combinations

Pickle chips and the coleslaw are good, but since it's KFC, why not follow Bob's recommendation for an extra side that compliments the spiciness well: mac and cheese.

Courtesy of KFC

5. This recipe went through the wringer

It wasn’t enough for KFC to just "do" hot chicken. Their pepper junkies went on food safaris, visited famed Nashville hot chicken houses for inspiration, and put the recipe through 15 rounds in the test kitchen before trying it out on consumers, who... “commented it was too spicy,” says Bob. (C'mon people!) So it was back to the cutting board for a few more rounds.
 

6. And so did KFC's team of chefs

They hit up Nashville, they went to Chicago to check out who was channeling the best Tennessee imitations, they got their mouths set on fire across the country and in the end, decided to dial down the heat in favor of a more subtle flavor.
 

7. So it's hot, but not revenge-level hot

Since it’s not being cooked up by your really, really angry girlfriend (seriously, that’s how Nashville hot chicken came to be), you can order without fear. KFC hot chicken will be spicy, but with an even ratio of flavor and smokiness to heat that brings balance to the dish and your palate.
 

8. You can eat it whenever

Any good hot chicken worth its sauce can be eaten last thing at night, first thing in the morning, or whenever you find yourself raiding the fridge (no judgment here). According to Bob, “a lot of people around the office get it, put it in the refrigerator and eat it for breakfast the next morning,” which is a testament to the dish that tastes just as good as a leftover. Because these people know chicken.