Sat | Apr 29, 2017

Soulful chicken sandwich

Published:Thursday | July 16, 2015 | 7:00 AMJ.M. Hirsch

I have a serious comfort food association with chicken salad sandwiches. Particularly in summer.

That's when mom made them for me for lunch. And I don't mean salads with chicken (the "ugh" of the healthy menu at fast-casual restaurants). I mean the sloppy, sticky diner-style chicken salads all gloopy with mayonnaise, speckled with sweet pickle relish and studded with crunchy bits of chopped celery. And the best part of the chicken salad? Those clumps that oozed out from between the bread slices to land with a plop on the plate. I ate those with my fingers.

My tastes have become a bit more sophisticated since those days, though not by much. And, I'm still partial to a hefty dose of mayo. So when I'm hankering for a little comfort in summer, this is the version I make now.

Start to finish: 15 minutes

Servings: 2

n 3 tablespoons mayonnaise

n 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

n 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

n 1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce, to taste

n 1/4 cup bread and butter pickle slices, finely chopped

n 1 stalk celery, finely chopped

n 1 cup shredded cooked chicken meat

n 2 tablespoons butter, softened

n 4 large slices rye bread

n 4 deli slices cheddar cheese

n 4 thick tomato slices

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, fennel seeds and hot sauce. Mix in the pickles, celery and chicken until everything is well coated.

Use the butter to coat one side of each slice of bread. For each sandwich, top the unbuttered side of one slice of bread with a slice of cheese, then half of the chicken salad. Gently press two tomato slices into the chicken salad, then top with another slice of cheese and a second slice of bread, buttered side up.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high flame. Set the sandwiches in the skillet, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for two to three minutes, or until lightly golden. Use a spatula to carefully flip the sandwich and cook for another two to three minutes. Transfer the sandwich to a cutting board and let rest for two minutes. Cut into halves and serve immediately.