What a 'chickwich'
Six years ago, I created my version of the Chick-fil-A sandwich I loved eating as a child, for one of my restaurants and called it the 'chickwich'. For my version, I use aromatic buttermilk brine for the boneless skinless chicken breasts to keep them juicy, and then dip them three times - first in seasoned flour, then an egg wash and finally crushed saltines to make the crust extra crispy.
The sliced pickles - the only condiment in this sandwich - are key, and if you are like me, and want them in every bite, make sure to layer the entire top bun with pickles. I like tangy and sour dill pickle slices, but if you prefer bread-and-butter or sweet pickles, they'll work equally well.
Start to finish: One hour and 20 minutes
4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, brined and patted dry
2 large eggs plus
2tbsp milk, whisked
2 cups self-rising flour
1 sleeve of saltines, pounded
fine by hand to make uneven
Peanut or cottonseed oil, for
3 cups hot water
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup packed dark brown
2 generous sprigs of fresh
rosemary or 2 tablespoons
dried rosemary, leaves
1tsp whole black
4 cups cold buttermilk
1tsp hot sauce or cayenne
21/2tsp granulated garlic
2tsp onion powder
2tsp smoked Spanish paprika
1tbsp kosher salt
1/2 to 1 cup pickles
1. In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the water, salt, sugar, rosemary, and peppercorns to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Stir and let cool to warm/room temperature.
2. Add four cups of ice cubes, the buttermilk, and hot sauce or cayenne. Whisk well. When the brine is cool to the touch, submerge chicken breast in the brine. Refrigerate covered for 15-20 minutes.
3. Remove chicken breasts pat dry and discard brine.
4. Add chicken rub to two cups of self-rising flour and mix well. When ready to fry, remove tender from the back of the chicken breast, if it is still intact.
5. Coat breasts lightly and evenly with seasoned flour. One at a time, dip into egg mixture and immediately into cracker crumbs. Pat cracker crumbs into all sides.
Let sit for five minutes to make sure crust is solid before frying.
6. Heat a cast-iron skillet with at least 1/2 inch of peanut or cottonseed oil. When the oil reaches 325 degrees, place chicken in the skillet and cook for three to four minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and turn chicken over. Cook with the lid off for another four minutes or until desired colour of brownness.
7. To keep chicken warm and crispy before assembling sandwich, place fried chicken on a rack set in a sheet pan and place in a 3008F oven.
To assemble sandwich, open potato bun and layer one side with sliced pickles, place chicken on the other side and close bun. Enjoy immediately.
To up the ante, you can butter and grill the inside of the bun before making the sandwich.
- Elizabeth Karmel is a barbecue and southern foods expert.