*By: Linz Bordner*
A fried chicken sandwich isn’t something I would instinctively choose on a menu. I tend to lean toward more healthier options, but sometimes you just have to dive in at the deep end. And let’s face it, a fried chicken sandwich just screams comfort food and a day’s worth of calories.
However, this fried chicken sandwich was well worth the extra calories and subsequent food hangover I had the next day. And it was totally restaurant worthy. And my kids even loved it. When I can find a meal that the whole family likes, that’s the equivalent to hitting the jackpot (well not exactly, but you get the idea).
This amazing recipe is from Ina Garten, who sought high and low to find the best fried chicken sandwich for her husband, Jeffrey. She finally found it in a Shake Shack cookbook and then put her spin on it. Her secret to crisp, golden chicken is in the marinade. The chicken breasts are soaked in a buttermilk mixture for at least 8 hours (and up to 24). Next, they are dredged in a spicy flour mixture and then dipped again into the buttermilk and dredged back through the flour mixture. The finished product is mouth-watering chicken atop a bun slathered in buttermilk herb mayo, topped with salty dill pickles and crisp Bibb lettuce.
If you follow the recipe, I promise these sandwiches will not disappoint! We served it with homemade french fries and pickles. All the credit goes to my husband Ryan, who made these delicious sandwiches and saved Sunday night dinner…once again!
Yield: 6 sandwiches
- 2 cups buttermilk, shaken
- 1 shallot, peeled, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 jalapeno pepper (with seeds), halved lengthwise
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 small skinless, boneless chicken breasts (6 ounces each)
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 ½ teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- 2 (48-ounce) bottles canola oil
- 6 potato hamburger buns, toasted, for serving
- Buttermilk Herb Mayo, for serving
- 6 Bibb lettuce leaves
- Kosher dill pickles, thinly sliced, for serving
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, shallot, garlic, jalapeno, 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Place the chicken breasts between 2 pieces of parchment paper and, with a rolling pin or meat mallet, pound them until they are evenly ½ inch thick. Slice each piece of chicken in half crosswise so you have 2 pieces approximately the same size. Place the chicken in the marinade, making sure each piece is well-coated, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to (but not more than) 24 hours.
2. When ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 300°. Set a wire rack on a sheet pan ad place them in the oven.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, celery salt, 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper and set aside.
4. Pour oil into a medium (9-inch round by 4 ½ inch high) Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, until it is 2 inches deep. Clip on a candy thermometer and heat the oil over high heat until it reaches 350°. Meanwhile, lift the chicken from the marinade, dredge it in the flour mixture, submerge it again in the marinade, then again in the flour mixture, lightly shaking off the excess. Transfer the chicken to a plate or sheet pan until ready to fry.
5. When the oil is 350°, carefully lower 3 pieces only into the oil with tongs and adjust the heat to keep the oil at 350°. Don’t crowd the chicken! Cook for 5 minutes, turning once to brown evenly. With a slotted spoon*, transfer the chicken to the sheet pan in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Sprinkle all the chicken with salt and keep warm for up to 15 minutes, until ready to serve.
6. To assemble, place the bottom of each on a plate, spread with some of the buttermilk herb mayo, then top with a lettuce leaf, 4 pickle slices, then a piece of chicken. Spread the underside of the top bun generously with more of the mayo and place on top of the chicken, mayo side down. Serve while the chicken is still warm.
*Note: A wire strainer with a long handle is even safer than a slotted spoon for removing food from hot oil when frying.