Fried Chicken Sandwich
This sandwich is nothing short of a textural marvel, from its super crispy batter-fried chicken to its pillowy soft bun — and all the crunchy slaw in between. The flavors are top-notch too: There’s a chef-y spin to the one-two punch of the jalapeño slaw and bread and butter pickles. A little heat, a little sweet acid. And yet, the most satisfying and wondrous thing about it is how well it mimics fast food. It’s the kind of sandwich you scarf down in big, greedy bites, and then wonder where it went.
In the test kitchen, reviews were unapologetically gushy — almost competitively so. One reviewer said, “I’ve never had a fresher fried chicken sandwich in my life,” and then took seconds just to be sure. Not to be outdone, another taster described eating the sandwich as a euphoric experience, saying, “I feel like I’m in a flying dream.”
On a slightly more down-to-earth note, we recommend rolling out these sandwiches for game day. If you’re going to make a bunch of fried chicken, you might as well make an event of it. And, as single-serving sandwiches, they keep things simple. If it’s more of a snackertunity than a meal, you can cut the sandwiches in halves or quarters, drop some toothpicks in them, and serve them with bags of kettle chips. Beer would be a good call too. We’d go with a Session lager — its clean, refreshing flavor will be just right with this delightfully oily and saucy sandwich.
For the chicken:
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ tsp black pepper, plus more to taste
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp Louisiana-style hot sauce
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups canola or vegetable oil
4 classic hamburger buns
½ cup bread and butter pickle chips
For the jalapeño slaw:
½ cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp white wine vinegar
6 oz shredded cabbage mix
2 Tbsp chopped pickled jalapeños (with seeds), plus some for plating
1 tsp chopped Gelson’s organic fresh dill
¼ tsp smoked paprika
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Special tools: candy thermometer and instant-read thermometer.
To prepare the chicken: Trim any excess fat from the chicken thighs.
Place 2 of the chicken thighs in a gallon freezer bag and pound to an even ½-inch thickness with a meat tenderizer. Repeat until all of the thighs are flattened.
In a large bowl, season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cayenne pepper and hot sauce. Add the buttermilk and mix together, making sure the buttermilk gets into all of the cracks in the chicken thighs. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the thighs marinate for 4 to 6 hours in the refrigerator.
To make the jalapeño slaw: In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and white wine vinegar. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together the shredded cabbage, pickled jalapeños, dill, paprika, half of the mayonnaise mixture, and salt and pepper to taste.
To batter and fry the chicken: Place a cooling rack in a sheet pan, and set it aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and black pepper.
Remove one thigh from the bag, allowing excess buttermilk to drip off. Dredge the thigh in the flour, shaking off any excess. Repeat that process, and then place the chicken thigh on the cooling rack.
Repeat step 8 until all of the chicken thighs have been battered.
In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil to 350º using a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature. Set a clean cooling rack in a paper towel-lined sheet pan.
Gently place the chicken thighs in the oil one at a time, making sure not to splash any oil. Fry them for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they’re golden brown, gently agitating them during the cooking process. They’re done when they reach 165º on an instant-read thermometer.
Set the fried chicken thighs on the cooling rack.
To assemble the sandwiches: Spread the remaining mayonnaise mixture on the top and bottom of each bun. Put the chicken on the bottom bun, layer it with slaw, pickles, and jalapeños — close it up and serve it hot.