Sandwich series (5): Fried chicken
Continuing the quest to create a perfect sandwich, we’re revisiting one of my all-time favourite Sunday lunch recipes: a beautifully crafted fried chicken. It’s a crisp baguette, encasing juicy, crunchy fried chicken, refreshing green coleslaw and fiery Sriracha mayonnaise.
Sriracha, for the uninitiated, is a hot chili sauce with origins in South-East Asia. With its distinctive red bottle and green cap, it is immediately recognizable and easy to find in any toko. Addictively fiery and delicious in soups, sandwiches and sauces, it’s a good (and small) investment for your pantry.
Start the night before
To make the best fried chicken for your sandwich, start the night before by putting the buttermilk, one teaspoon of salt and the chicken thighs into a bowl. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate overnight. If you like, you can add even more flavour to the mix with some grated garlic, onion, and fennel. An hour and a half before serving your sandwiches, take the chicken out of the fridge.
Put the flour in a bowl (you can also season the flour with your favourite spices for an even bigger flavour boost – my choices are smoked paprika and cayenne) and, one at a time, shake the excess buttermilk off the chicken thighs and dip them in the flour to coat evenly.
Place on a rack until each thigh is ready and repeat the process: dip in the buttermilk, coat in the flour and place on the rack to dry for about an hour. This process creates a thick, crispy and delicious crust and is essential to getting the best fried chicken.
The thighs are resting
While the thighs are resting, make a quick coleslaw by mixing the lettuce, cabbage, and fennel in a bowl. Add some diced pickles and a bit of the pickle juice. Sprinkle a little salt over the slaw and mix together. Let this sit for about an hour to release its water and become crisp. Mix the mayonnaise and Sriracha and set aside.
When you are ready, add about 3 cm of vegetable oil to a large, heavy frying pan. Heat over medium-high heat and, when the oil is hot, carefully lower four thighs in the oil, taking care not to crowd them or burn yourself. You can test the oil’s heat by adding a small cube of bread – it should turn golden in about 15 seconds if you’re at the right temperature.
The chicken should take about 7 to 8 minutes to cook through and the crust should come out golden brown. Take the meat out of the oil and let it drain on some paper towels for 5 minutes while you assemble your sandwiches.
Finish it off
Cut the baguette into two 25 cm-long pieces and slice each one open length-wise. Spread the spicy mayonnaise on the bottom half and add two fried chicken pieces on top of the sauce. Take a handful of coleslaw and squeeze out some of the excess water and layer it over the chicken.
Finish it off with some extra pickle slices and another smear of spicy mayo. Serve the sandwich with any accompaniments you like and a crisp, cold beer.
Anastasios Sarampalis is a lecturer at the Psychology Department.