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US Cooking Tour Stop 17: Tennessee

 Can one simply go to Tennessee and not have hot chicken? I think not! Hot chicken is definitely a "must have" when passing through the state. I've had my fair share of hot chicken, but I have never made my own at home. I knew it was certainly going to be a true challenge to get it to live up to the hype of all the other hot chicken I've had. 

I scoured the internet for what I thought was the best hot chicken recipe. I read reviews, compared ingredient lists, and hoped for the best. I ended up going with some chef's recipe - figuring if he's an actual chef he's got a shot on making some solid hot chicken. But I'm not gonna lie, if KFC would sell their Nashville Hot Sauce, I would have ordered some of that in a second. That sauce is delicious!

I went with chicken tenders, as frying bone-in chicken intimidates me so much. Ain't nobody got time for dealing with bones and stuff. 

Nashville Hot Chicken

1 C buttermilk
1/4 C pickle brine
2 Tbsp hot sauce
1 egg

2 C flour
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper

1/4 C butter
1/4 C lard
2 Tbsp cayenne
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1 C vegetable oil, for frying

Whisk buttermilk, pickle brine, hot sauce, and egg together in a mixing bowl. Pour marinade over chicken and stir to ensure each piece is thoroughly coated. Cover and let chicken marinate in refrigerator 2 to 4 hours.

Mix flour and salt together in a shallow flat dish. Remove chicken from marinade and blot with paper towels. Reserve marinade. Toss chicken in flour until thoroughly coated. Return chicken to marinade, coating all sides; remove chicken from marinade allowing excess to drip back into the bowl. Coat the chicken once again in flour mixture. Place on a rack. Repeat with all chicken pieces. Allow to sit out about 15 minutes to allow coating to dry out a bit.

Place butter and lard in a large pot. Add cayenne pepper, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, kosher salt, and black pepper. Place over medium-high heat. Cook and stir until fats melt. Remove from heat; keep sauce warm.

Fill cast iron skillet about 1/3 of the way with vegetable oil. Heat oil to 350 degrees F over medium-high heat. Carefully place chicken into hot oil. Maintain an oil temperature of 325 degrees F, adjusting heat as need. Fry until instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees F, 8 to 10 minutes per side.

Transfer chicken to a rack to drain. Brush with the sauce on both sides.

* Review: I've gotta say, I didn't think the sauce was flavorful enough. It seemed to be a little too sweet with not enough heat. The chicken had an overall good flavor, I was just a bit disappointed in the sauce. If I attempt hot chicken again, I will do some more researching for a more flavorful/spicy sauce.


Dessert in the Volunteer State certainly didn't disappoint. Apparently there are entire festivals across the state dedicated to the Banana Pudding, their official state dessert.

I knew this one would be a hit. I typically make Paula Deen's banana pudding recipe, but this time I went with a different one that was very similar but I ended up liking better. It had more milk in it than Paula Deen's calls for, and it ended up a bit creamier as I prefer. I also added two types of cookies which I think was a twist I'll keep doing forever. It was excellent!

I totally messed up on centering the cookies!

Tennessee Banana Pudding

1 8 oz softened cream cheese
1 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 5 oz instant french vanilla pudding mix
3 C cold milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 8 oz cool whip
3 bananas, sliced
1 box vanilla wafers
1 package chessman butter cookies

In a bowl, mix together cream cheese, condensed milk, vanilla pudding mix, cold milk and vanilla extract.

Fold half the container of frozen whipped topping into the mixture, saving the other half for later. Set pudding mixture aside.

Fill the bottom of a 9×13 dish with a layer of vanilla wafer cookies, followed by half of the sliced bananas, and half the pudding mixture. Then another layer of vanilla wafer cookies, remaining bananas and remaining pudding mixture. Cover with remaining frozen whipped topping, and top with crumbled vanilla wafer cookies.

Chill for three hours before serving.

* This is best if made and served on the same day. It's nice to still have a little bit of crunch to the cookies (personal preference), and the bananas are still nice and firm. It's just not the same past the 24 hour point.

I am a modern day homemaker with a passion for family, cooking, celebrating, decorating, travel, and memory making! The Lord has blessed me with the desires of my heart in my husband and our two sons. We recently built our dream home and cultivating a loving and happy haven for my family is where I find so much joy.


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