Hot enough for you? Dial it in.

Hot chicken has seared its way into national culinary consciousness in a big way. With a legendary heritage in Nashville, this firebrand of the fried chicken world blazes a new trail for creativity in the kitchen. Can the innovation continue? You bet your cayenne it can. And you can fine-tune the flavor you want with a lighter, healthier version that’s every bit as crispy.

Stoking the sizzle, crafting the crunch.

At first glance, hot chicken might seem obvious. Add lots of pepper, then fry the chicken. In fact, however, the ingredients, preparation and cooking technique all play important roles in creating the signature taste. Tangy buttermilk, vinegar-based hot sauce, corn flake crumbs, oven racks — this new take on oven-fried hot chicken keeps it crispy on the outside and moist on the inside with the bold flavors hot chicken is famous for.

Thanks, capsaicin.

Every story has a hero, and the star in the tale of hot chicken is undoubtedly capsaicin, the compound in chile peppers that makes them hot. The recipe calls for three kinds of chile ingredients. The first is Tabasco or a southern-style vinegar-based hot sauce. The other two peppers are ground cayenne and chipotle. Sharing the spotlight are hints of brown sugar, roasted garlic powder and buttermilk. It’s the combination of flavors — some in the breading, some in the sauce — that work together to make this recipe unique. And if you’d like your hot chicken to be well, not so hot, that’s easy. Brush on less sauce at the end. You control the thermostat for this hot chicken.

More hot ideas: the essential sides.

A five alarm feast calls for the right sides to complete the experience. White bread and pickles are standard fare in Nashville, and you’ll also want a pitcher (or two) of iced tea to help your dinner companions keep their cool.

For the perfect slaw, try making your own blend of shredded red cabbage and thinly sliced kale leaves. Add some sliced green onions and black-eyed peas. Then whisk together olive oil, cider vinegar, dried oregano, celery seed, coarse salt and freshly ground pepper for an easy vinaigrette. If that’s not tangy enough, add a squeeze of lemon juice. Dress the slaw a little before you serve it so the cabbage and kale relax.

Who’s ready for a heat wave? Make this oven-fried hot chicken, and the forecast calls for soaring temperatures everyone will enjoy.