Heat’n up the Ham with Hux: Spicy Chicken Edition

The reason for this Magic City Weekend blog is for those who love the HEAT! I’m going to talk about some of the hottest, most delicious, and best dishes that are Heat’n Up The Ham. Now, let’s dig in…to some hot chicken.

Hot Chicken

I was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi and I was raised in a small town just 15 to 20 minutes outside of Mobile, AL. Shout-out to Hurley, MS. I may be a Mississippian at heart, but I have lived in Alabama most of my adult life. Now, you may wonder what this has to do with anything…well, it has plenty to do with it. Growing up on the Gulf Coast you grow up with spicy food put in front of you all the time. It’s a part of the culture, the culinary nature of the cooking, and a major part of the bravado of Cajun and spicy cuisine. The chicken I grew up with had spice to it. Salt, some pepper, paprika, and maybe some cayenne in the shake. It had spice, but we would never call it hot. The last several years the hot chicken phenomenon has taken the country by storm. It has my attention and my appetite on lock…so, let’s talk about it.

Is there room for Two Kings of Hot Chicken?

I will answer that question at some point, but for now this is a debate that has been raging here in Birmingham for close to two years now. You either swear allegiance to Eugene’s or Hot Hattie B’s is the ruler of your kingdom. While I have eaten at both more times than I would care to admit…I’m in love with…well…both! It’s like a parent with multiple kids you love them all and you know they come from the same origins, but you love them for different reasons. They come with different qualities and you appreciate those differences.

Eugene’s Hot Chicken

For me Eugene’s is a traditional Nashville hot fried chicken with heat ranging from mild – hot – damn hot – stupid hot. Now, I usually live in the damn hot area, but I have ventured into the stupid hot territory on 3 or 4 occasions just to remember the experience. It’s a good one as the cayenne pepper seers and the tears mount. After a couple of minutes you are in the folds of a spice induced flavor coma that does not disappoint. The chicken is cooked to perfection. This chicken is juicy, hot and blackened to a point like it just escaped the depths of hades. It’s a meal not to take lightly and you better buckle up for. It’s called stupid hot for a reason.

Hot Chicken

Click here to learn more about Eugene’s

Hot Hattie B’s

I glance up at the flavors and I see Shut the Cluck Up. I think to myself this right here is the best name for a heat flavor I have ever seen or heard. Hot Hattie B’s hottest offering delivers on it’s namesake for it brings the heat and then some. It’s different from Eugene’s and that’s why I love it. Spice blends from Southern to Damn Hot then cranking up the heat to Shut the Cluck Up…it’s a slightly different flavor profile that incorporates more of a hot spice oil that coats the chicken like a blanket from the lake of fire. The first time I had it let’s just say I finished the meal and at the same time the meal finished me. It was everything I hoped a heat level called Shut the Cluck Up would have…great flavor on the front end and hang on to your sanity backend heat. The chicken was outstanding! The tenders were huge with a deep red tint, yet still crispy to get the fried crunch. Hands down the hottest chicken I have ever eaten.

Hot Chicken

Click here to learn more about Hot Hattie B’s

Is there such a thing as too hot?

Some people say the hotter the better, which is not always the case. Is there such a thing as too hot? Yes! There is such a thing as too hot. I have tried some things that were so hot that it overpowered any flavor that could’ve been enjoyed and some things that were so hot that it left you in a miserable heaping mess of tears like the memory of losing your favorite pet just peeked it’s head out of the emotional vault. When it comes to hot chicken in Birmingham both Eugene’s Stupid Hot and Hot Hattie B’s Shut the Cluck Up drop the hammer when it comes to heat, but both would not fit in my category of face melting hot. I reserve that for only a few dishes I’ve had in my lifetime.

Your definition of hot!

Why do I put myself through this type of heat gauntlet? Well, it goes back to that ol’ bravado of Gulf Coast cooking and what’s your definition of hot. One person’s hot is another one’s mild. For one to really understand the heat profile of a dish it’s not just a one and done type of thing.  So, is there is room for two kings of hot chicken in Birmingham. Yes there is…well, maybe one king and one queen. Take that however you will. Either way they both have something to offer, quality hot chicken when just over two years ago there was this void in Birmingham that has now been satisfied. That is a reason for celebration…so let those spice induced tears of joy flow Birmingham for our bellies are full and our sinuses clear.

If you have any favorite hot dishes you want me to check out email me at thulsey@wbrc.com

Hux

If you love chicken, check this out!

A Chicken Biscuit You Can Do at Home

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