Crispy Chicken Sandwiches, With All the Fixings

Caroline BarrettPart of my June 2023 TU story. Read the whole thing here.

We made a chicken dish the other night, inspired by the crispy chicken sandwiches the young people are eating right now. This brought Elliot out of his room and into the kitchen, where he seasoned the flour, dredged the chicken pieces, fried them each very carefully, and then assembled his masterpiece, piled high with pickles and lettuce and tomatoes, and slathered with the sauce we made. He wasn’t ready to say that it was better than what you can get at a chicken joint, but we sure did have fun making them together. I pulled out kimchi for mine and Paul went for spicy peppers. There is beauty in making a sandwich exactly the way you want it, and I have always liked making a dinner like this one, where everyone’s personality stands out in their own version.

Crispy Chicken Sandwiches with Special Sauce
(and all the toppings)
Serves 5

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
Kosher salt
½ cup buttermilk (or ½ cup milk mixed with 2 teaspoons white vinegar)
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Safflower oil (or other high-heat oil)
For serving:
Special Sauce (recipe follows)
Sandwich rolls
Cheddar cheese slices
Pickled onions
Anything you are craving

Cut the chicken breasts into pieces approximately 5 inches wide and ½-inch thick. Depending on your chicken, this requires butterflying each piece and then cutting in half, if they are large. Gently pound each piece to a uniform thickness of approximately ½-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides lightly with kosher salt and set aside. 

Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, garlic, salt and black pepper in a shallow bowl. Pour the buttermilk into another shallow bowl. Dredge each piece of chicken into the flour, then the buttermilk, and back in the flour, being sure to coat evenly. Shake off excess flour and lay on a baking tray. Dredge and coat all of the chicken pieces. 

Pour ½ inch oil into a cast-iron skillet and set over medium heat. Set up a plate with a few paper towels next to the pan. When the oil is hot (it will shimmer), add the chicken, 2-3 pieces at a time (don’t crowd the pan.) Cook for 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked through. Remove and drain on the paper towels and continue cooking the chicken. 

To assemble the sandwiches, toast the buns. Lay out the toppings and let each person top their own generously, with a slather of sauce and piled high with all the toppings. 

For the Special Sauce: stir together ½ cup mayonnaise, ¼ cup chopped bread and butter pickles, 2 teaspoons smoky hot sauce (we like Trader Joe’s or Cholula Chipotle). 

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