I’ve done a lot of experimenting in the kitchen over the years — making everything from foie gras torchons to my favorite dim sum treats. But one thing I have always stayed away from attempting is fried chicken. It just seems like one of those things best left to the professionals — Southern grandmas, fast food joints and Thomas Keller. Plus there are plenty of places in Portland that make it easy to just go out for fried chicken when the craving hits — I’m looking at you, Country Cat.
But when reading the April issue of Bon Appetit, I was seduced by the cover recipe: a mile-high, slightly sloppy fried chicken sandwich. Conveniently enough my friend DB and I had plan to cook together but didn’t have a menu in mind. I sent him the link to the recipe and he was sold.
We started out making the spicy sauce (Hellman brand mayo mixed with shaved garlic and hot sauce, easy enough) and the cole slaw. The slaw recipe made us hesitate for a second — pickle juice used as a dressing? But we went for it…and oh man, I am so glad we did (more on that later!).
The only hitch in our giddyup was that the jalapeño DB swears he bought went missing in between his trip to the store and his house. Luckily he had also picked up one of my favorite things, Mama Lil’s Spicy Pickled Peppers, and managed not to lose them in transit so we diced up a handful for some heat.
Besides that substitution, everything was done according to the recipe — another big accomplishment for me, thank you very much! We cut, seasoned and breaded the chicken before frying it to a deep beautiful brown. As we removed pieces from the oil, we placed them on a rack in the oven to stay warm and crispy.
Reading the comments section of the recipe online made me laugh. People were very concerned about what kind of bun to use for this delectable treat. I think it’s an easy choice. You have crunchy fried chicken and crunchy slaw dripping with pickle juice — get a nice squishy bun so you don’t lose the textures. These Pub Buns that DB picked out were perfect for the cause.
Then put it all together and watch the magic happen!
So how was it? It was delicious, of course. It’d be hard to make this not taste good — it has all the elements of a perfect sandwich. However I will say that the shining star of this meal was not the chicken. The chicken was good, but the slaw was amazing. The pickled peppers added a nice vinegary touch, but even with a simple jalapeño I can imagine it would be amazing. In fact, if you don’t want to fiddle around frying the chicken, I would suggest just grilling or pan-searing it for an easier sandwich fix. Just keep the spicy mayo and for the love of all things holy — make the slaw to go with it!
It will make you happy.