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Oven-Fried Nashville-Style Hot Chicken

Time 55 minutes
Yields Serves 6 to 8
Serve with pickles for a bright bite to balance the heat of the chicken.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)
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Inspired by Nashville hot chicken, this version swaps deep-frying for oven frying but retains the signature spiced oil that coats the chicken at the end. Crunchy and hot, it’s a great option for making fried chicken at home. Use your favorite hot pepper sauce in the mayonnaise coating because it stays on the chicken and contributes to its heat level and flavor. Classic Nashville hot chicken is served with sliced white bread and pickles, the former for soaking up the spiced oil and taming the heat, the latter to provide a tart counterpoint. You can serve it that way as well.

1

Set an oven rack in the top third of the oven, then heat to 450 degrees. Line a half-sheet pan or rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack over it. If the rack isn’t nonstick, rub with oil to lightly coat.

2

Whisk the mayonnaise, hot pepper sauce, mustard, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder and ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add the chicken and turn to evenly coat. Let stand while preparing the breading.

3

Combine the panko, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon cayenne and 1 teaspoon salt in a shallow dish. Rub the mixture together with your fingers to break the crumbs into smaller bits. Roll a drumstick in the mixture to evenly and completely coat, pressing on the crumbs if needed. Shake off any excess crumbs, then place the drumstick on the rack. Repeat with the remaining drumsticks. If you have time, let stand for at least 15 minutes.

4

Bake until the chicken is golden brown, crunchy and cooked through, about 30 minutes. When you pierce one with the tip of a sharp paring knife, the juices should run clear.

5

While the chicken bakes, combine the sugar with the remaining ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon paprika, 1 tablespoon cayenne and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium heatproof bowl. Heat the ¼ cup oil in a small saucepan over medium heat until wavy. Pour over the spices. Once the sizzling subsides, stir well.

6

As soon as the chicken comes out of the oven, stir the spiced oil again and drizzle evenly over the drumsticks. Serve hot.

Variations:
Oven-Fried Chicken: Omit the spice oil and use a mild version of hot pepper sauce.
Make Ahead:
The spice oil can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.