Despite the fact that it's the height of farmer's market season... and that I should probably be making things with fresh tomatoes... I came into this week craving a chicken sandwich. Now, I'm not much of a fast food guy these days anyway (burritos excepted), but living where I do in Cambridge it's more complicated than you would think to get a simple fried chicken sandwich. So why not make my own?
The recipe that comes up at the top of the list is Kenji's at Serious Eats... which he developed for people boycotting Chic-fil-A based on their very public anti-gay marriage views. While I am very much in the marriage equality camp, the boycotting is pretty much moot since the nearest Chic-fil-A is like a 30 minute drive deep into the 'burbs (easiest boycott ever!). I just wanted a tasty fried chicken sandwich.
So obviously I'm no connoisseur Chic-fil-A sandwiches... thus how authentic this recipe really is means nothing to me... but lots of people seem to really dig the original so it seems a good place to start. I couldn't find boneless skinless chicken breasts in any size but FAMILY (so like a thousand of them) and instead purchased a pair of split chicken breasts (i.e. still got skin and bones) and did a little amateur butchering. Put the emphasis on amateur as I screwed up the first one, leaving the tenderloin on the bone and basically leaving myself only one cutlet where there should have been two. I rallied on the second breast, keeping everything intact, and did a decent horizontal cut of the de-boned breast to give two relatively evenly sized cutlets.
Looking at the comments, the major complaint about the recipe is the salt level, which I will have to echo. I left my chicken in the brine way too long (24 hours) so for that I can blame nobody but myself... nevertheless, next time I'd still do the quick 1 hour brine instead... which makes the recipe easier to do on a weeknight whim anyway.
Ignoring the salt issue, I thought it was a pretty aggressively spiced... lots of pepper... which was surprising for a mass market style chicken sandwich. Good though. I can't 100% recommend the recipe, but I bet with the quick brine it's a keeper... in fact I might give that a go this week.
Made another attempt last night with a 1.5-2 hour brine and was very pleased with the results. I also think I did a better job with the flour, where you dribble in 3 tablespoons off beaten eggs and milk and mix with your fingers until you get the texture of "coarse sand"... which I didn't quite achieve the first time. Thus this time I think I achieved a much flakier coating. All-in-all, with the shorter 1 hour brine I'm very happy with the sandwich and it instantly becomes something you can whip up fairly easily on a weeknight with almost no planning.