SPICY FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICH
When it comes to fast food guilty pleasures, for me, a good spicy chicken sandwich ranks near the top. Having eaten my fair share from just about every fast food chain out there while I was in high school, I consider myself to be a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to the crispy, neon-orange chicken pucks of the world. I know, I know, that crap is not only horrible for you, but also made from ingredients we’d all rather not know about. That’s precisely why I set out to recreate this drive-thru favorite at home. Think of it as a slow food take on a fast food classic.
Made with organic, boneless-skinless breasts, a spicy buttermilk marinade and fiery Cajun seasoning blend, the flavor of this scratch-made rendition easily outranks that of its greasy, artificial cousin. When combined with ripe tomato slices, crisp lettuce and creamy mayonnaise on a homemade sesame seed bun, you have a fried chicken sandwich good enough to get excited about without the guilt of processed, chain food.
It might not be the healthiest sandwich out there, but like mozzarella sticks, you’ll feel better knowing its homemade.
SPICY FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICH
Soaking the chicken overnight in a spicy buttermilk marinade not only adds great heat but also helps tenderize the chicken. If you don’t have self-rising flour on hand, make your own by combining 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder. I’ve included a recipe for the Cajun seasoning I make at home, but any store-bought brand will work just as well here. I like the simplicity of a great slice of tomato, fresh lettuce and mayonnaise on this sandwich, but you could just as easily top this chicken with melted cheese, refreshing coleslaw or even substitute the mayo for some ranch dressing.
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced horizontally into 4 thin cutlets
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- Cajun seasoning for dusting (recipe follows)
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce
- Canola or vegetable for frying
- 4 sesame seed hamburger buns
- Mayonnaise for spreading
- 4 leaves of butter or leaf lettuce
- Tomato slices for garnish
- Pour the buttermilk into a bowl and whisk in the cayenne pepper. Add the chicken cutlets to the buttermilk mix and marinate them overnight in the refrigerator.
- Take the chicken out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before frying. In a shallow bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the hot sauce and set aside. Pour the flour onto a clean plate and stir in the coarsely ground black pepper and set aside.
- Drain the chicken cutlets from the buttermilk marinade and place on a clean plate. Sprinkle both sides of each cutlet heavily with Cajun seasoning before dunking it in the egg mixture. Quickly dredge the seasoned chicken in the flour-pepper mixture, making sure to shake off any excess. Place on a clean plate and repeat with remaining chicken.
- Pour oil to a depth of 2” into a 4-qt. heavy-bottom pot and heat over medium-high heat until the temperature registers 325° on a candy thermometer. Working 2 pieces of chicken at a time, carefully submerge them in the hot oil and fry until crispy and golden brown, about 4-5 minutes per batch. Remove the fried chicken cutlets to a plate lined with paper towels and repeat with the remaining chicken. Keep first batch of chicken warm in a low, 200° oven.
- Spread each half of the hamburger buns with mayonnaise (or ranch dressing) and top with a fried chicken cutlet, lettuce and tomato. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 sandwiches
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- Stir to combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.
- Store in an airtight jar. Use on fish, chicken and pork.