In honor of the Seahawks playing the Tennessee Titans this Sunday (1:25 p.m.; CBS), I want to bring my version of Nashville hot chicken to a home near you! 

While I love spicy food, I believe there is a difference between enjoying your food, and enjoying pain. I like a nice slow burn. In my view, this is how it should go: First bite, you think, “Yeah, that has some spice.” By the third bite, you’re in “maybe this is hotter than I thought, but nothing I can’t handle” territory. And by the fifth bite, you’re experiencing full body warmness. 

By the time you finish, your mouth may be on fire, but you were able to enjoy your food, and I hope you’ll enjoy my take on Nashville hot chicken. Nashville hot sauce is a blend of butter (or oil), seasoning and brown sugar. Spice tolerance is subjective of course — when ordering food at my neighborhood Thai place, I’m generally a “four out of five” spice-level person. (So use that as a yardstick and adjust the spice levels of this recipe for yourself accordingly!) While I stick to the classic blend of Nashville hot-sauce ingredients, if you like spicy food, the ratios used in this recipe should allow you to savor the spicy while enjoying the chicken.

This hot sauce can be stored for up to two weeks and used on anything. In the spirit of fall football game days, I decided to make a pulled chicken slider — shredded chicken thighs smothered in a rich, smoky, spicy sauce. Don’t want to bother making your own shredded chicken? Pick up a rotisserie one and shred it! Add pickles or coleslaw for a nice crunch. This is a quick slider you can make for any occasion.  

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Pulled Nashville hot chicken sliders

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 1.5 hours

Makes: 6 servings (2 sliders each!)

INGREDIENTS:

For the Nashville hot sauce:

Note: Make the sauce ahead! It can be stored in a sealed container for up to two weeks

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter 
  • 3 teaspoons smoked paprika 
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar 
  • 3 tablespoons cayenne 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 teaspoons garlic powder 
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder 
  • 4 tablespoons white vinegar (use white wine vinegar for more of a milder, fruity flavor that also helps cut the spice a bit

For the shredded chicken:

  • 1.5 pounds (about 6 pieces) boneless, skinless chicken thighs 
  • 3 chicken bouillon cubes 
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and kept whole
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 4 large chunks 
  • 1 package Hawaiian rolls (I used the 12 pack)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

STEPS:

To make the chicken:

  1. In a large pot, add chicken thighs, bouillon cubes, garlic and onion. Add water until water is an inch above the chicken. 
  2. Bring the pot to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, stir and turn heat down to medium; water should be at a rapid simmer. Let simmer for one hour or until the chicken is fork tender. 
  4. Once ready, remove chicken from liquid and place in a large bowl to shred. You can use two forks to easily shred the chicken. 

To make the sauce:

  1. Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and heat over medium until it begins to simmer. Whisk frequently. Simmer for five minutes.

Assembly:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix sauce and chicken together, set aside.
  3. Take Hawaiian rolls — do not separate — and cut through the center of the loaf to make a top and bottom. Brush insides of the rolls with butter. Place in the oven and toast for five minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and evenly spread chicken on one half of the cut buns. Top with the other side, and brush the top with remaining butter.
  5. Place back in the oven for another five minutes. 
  6. Remove and cut along roll lines to create individual sliders and enjoy! 
  7. Dress up the sliders with pickles or coleslaw.