This fiery fried chicken is inspired by the Nashville delicacy. Instead of serving the chicken alongside white bread and pickles, I decided to place this thick-crusted chicken in a sturdy sandwich topped with a quick iceberg-pickle slaw. The slaw, with the addition of dill pickles and juice to complement the chicken, cools down and balances the intense flavors of the hot chicken.
Pound the chicken breasts with a meat mallet until they are 1/2 inch thick. Slice the breasts in half, then add to a large resealable plastic bag. Mix the onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne and 1/2 tablespoon salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle half of the spice mixture over the chicken in the bag, add dill pickle powder and vinegar powder, seal the bag and shake and massage the spices into the meat evenly. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup oil in a small saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the remaining spice mix. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a small heatproof bowl and reserve.
In another large resealable plastic bag or paper bag, combine the flour with the black pepper and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Add enough oil to a cast-iron or other heavy skillet to come 1/2 inch up the sides. Heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 365 degrees F. The oil’s ready when a little flour dropped in bubbles and sizzles steadily.
Add the chicken to the paper bag in batches and shake well until the pieces are evenly coated. Remove the chicken from the flour, shaking off excess. Carefully place the chicken in the oil. Repeat, adding just a few more pieces to the pan. You don’t want to crowd the pan. Keep adjusting the heat to keep a steady sizzle and to maintain 365 degrees F. Cook until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes, then carefully turn each piece over. Cook until browned on the second side, about 3 minutes, then continue cooking and turning to evenly brown until cooked through, about 10 minutes total.
Crumple up some paper towels and drain the chicken on them. Repeat with the remaining chicken, replenishing and reheating the oil between batches. Drizzle with the reserved spice oil. Repeat the breading and frying process with the remaining chicken if necessary.
Spread the mayo on the hamburger buns and toast in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until golden, 2 to 3 minutes.
Starting with the bottom hamburger buns, top with the hot fried chicken and some Iceberg-Pickle Slaw. Cover with the bun tops.
Whisk together the oil, chopped pickles, pickle juice, Dijon and honey in a large bowl. Add the iceberg lettuce; toss gently to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Dill pickle powder is also known as pickle popcorn seasoning. Look for it in the spice aisle of supermarkets.
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