In Nashville, Chicken With a Kick

By Ari Weinzweig
Hot Chicken.jpg

Photo by Ryan Stiner


Pennsylvania Dutch Creamed Corn, Wisconsin Cheese Curds, Apalachicola Oysters, the Primanti Brothers Sandwich from Pittsburgh, Pimento Cheese Burgers, Carolina Gold Rice, Gullah Sweet Potato Fries, New Mexico Green Chiles, New England Clam Rolls . . . one of the things that we've had the most fun doing, serving, and eating over the last four years is to take some of this country's little culinary "secrets" and bring them to Ann Arbor where everyone gets to eat and enjoy. Of course the list continues to grow: the more we learn, the more we bring back, the more fun we all have eating all this really good American food. I'm very -- actually, very, very -- psyched about the latest addition to this all-American list: Nashville hot chicken.

A lot of you are going to already be intimately familiar with the Roadhouse fried chicken. I know that because it's our #1 most popular dish and people comment on it -- and eat it -- all the time. It's done in the style of Western Tennessee, learned from the great fried chicken at Gus', over in the town of Mason, about 45 minutes east of Memphis.

Buttermilk, some black pepper, and a bit of red pepper fried up with a pretty dark crisp crust. It's got a touch of heat, lots of flavor, and most everyone loves it.

I use that as a reference point because starting this fall, once a week we will head east (figuratively) across Tennessee -- Tuesdays at the Roadhouse are now officially Nashville hot Chicken Tuesdays.

They are truly some chicken-holics in Nashville.

Before I ever actually ate Nashville hot chicken I had the chance to see Joe York's really great Southern Foodways Alliance-sponsored short film, "Hot Chicken." Even if you don't like spicy food you'll be intrigued just from watching Joe's work. It's hilarious, it's interesting, it's informative, it's only about 15 minutes long and it's worth watching if you have even the slightest interest in American food or filmmaking.

Here at the Roadhouse I'd say that we're likely a ways away from being able to say that we've got something fully in synch with what you'd get in Nashville -- they've been at for decades, we've known it for only a matter of months. But wherever you're eating it up, be careful, ok? As Andre Prince Jeffries, the woman behind the illustrious Prince's Fried Chicken, reports, "...they say it's addictive and I have some people who come every day that I'm open. They come every day. I don't know how they do it but they are chicken-holics; they are truly some chicken-holics in Nashville." I don't want to become a chicken-holic. Or do I?

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2009/03/in-nashville-chicken-with-a-kick/734/