I neither have money nor a basic understanding of what the stock market is, but if I had both of those things, I’d invest everything into chicken sandwiches. All of it. I’d bet the house. It might seem like we’ve hit peak chicken sandwich ubiquity, but that’s what people thought when restaurants started rolling out discs of of griddled ground beef and slapping them between buns. Then the hamburger went on to beat Communism and take over the world. So, too, will the chicken sandwich (except for Communism, that part kind of took care of itself).
And you have every reason to fall in love with the chicken sando: It’s crispy, it’s salty, you’re encouraged to cover it in hot sauce, and, more than anything, it lulls you into a false sense of moral gourmandism. Along with mayonnaise and pickles, chicken sandwiches come with the illusion of health and environmental consciousness because of the white meat; its trendiness will forever be reinforced by the world forcibly willing it into a trend. If there’s a line, people will wait in it—especially if there’s fried chicken at the end.
Don’t fight it. Just accept your new poultry overlords into your hearts and mouths and start frying some bird.
Here’s What You’ll Need:
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Yellow cornmeal
- Hot Sauce
- Potato Rolls
- Something crunchy and green
- Vegetable oil for frying
Get yourself some boneless skinless chicken thighs and pound them out with a meat mallet—or an old wine bottle—until they’re thin and even. Pro tip: if you ever want to make a recipe taste better, sub out any recommended breasts for thighs. Make a brine using 2 cups of buttermilk, ¼ cup of hot sauce, and 1 Tbsp of salt—plus whatever spices you feel like rocking—and let the chicken marinade for at least 4 hours.
Then, add 2 cups of flour in one bowl, then 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of fine ground yellow cornmeal, plus 2 Tbsp of pre-mixed Cajun seasoning in another bowl. If you’re not already on that Cajun seasoning train, get your ass on board immediately. In a third bowl, combine 1 cup of buttermilk with 1 Tbsp of hot sauce.
This is a multi-step process, so pay special attention. Step 1: Take the chicken thigh out of the brine and dredge it in the first flour mixture (sans cornmeal). Step 2: Dip that floury chicken sheet into the buttermilk and hot sauce mixture. Step 3: Coat the chicken in the flour and cornmeal mixture and make sure you get starch in every nook. Step 4: Throw that chicken into 350 degree vegetable oil—use a deep fryer if you got one—for 6-7 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Step 5: Let the piece of chicken rest on a wire mesh or paper towel for at least two minutes to let the oil drain and prevent mouth scalding.
Now, accoutrements! The way I see it, you need a squishy bun, some sort of creamy mayonnaise sauce, acidic pickles, and something green and crunchy. Any combination of those will do. I went with bacon fat aioli, fennel slaw, half-sours, and a Fresno chile sauce, but mayo, iceberg, store pickles, and Tabasco will do just fine. Get yourself one of those super processed potato buns that only come in 8-packs at major chain grocery stores and toast the hell out of it in butter. That’s the only way to get that squish to crisp quotient you need. Cram it in your mouth and actively participate in culture.
Still hungry? Check out the other installments of Bite Club here.