It’s been a very long time since I shared a “Classics” recipe on here, and I think there’s no time like the present to get back to the groove of it. The last classics was earlier this year when I shared these Orange Brown Butter Madeleines, just in case you needed a refresher course because I know I needed it. It’s been too long. The reason why I haven’t shared one in a while was because I simply didn’t have any great ideas in mind for the series. I’ve been devoting my time to the “Cheers to the Weekend” segment so classics sort of took a back seat. That all changed recently one night last week, when I was working on another post. I tend to edit and write my posts on the couch at night, after a long day of shooting, usually in front of some trash TV. Lately it has been Real Housewives of New Jersey because I’ve only ever watched New York and Beverly Hills, and I have zero regrets about these life decisions I’m making. Okay, maybe a little because it’s literal actual trash I’m watching. I typically put something on that I don’t really have to pay attention to, because the whole point is finishing my work. New Jersey though has been testing my multi-tasking skills, let me tell you. I’m on season 6 now and I haven’t decided if I like Amber or not. I also don’t know how I feel about Dina being on. Anyhow, why am I talking about this, and what does Teresa and the gang have to do with the best fried chicken sandwich? All this to say that I was watching it and on comes this commercial for a fast food fried chicken sandwich with pickles and shredded lettuce and it looked GOOD. I mean good enough that I had just finished eating dinner and I was like, I need this sandwich in my life right now, and so it hit me that I needed to share a classics post and it needed to be a classic fried chicken sandwich. So here we are. Basically we all have Real Housewives of New Jersey to thank for it. It’s all full circle.
The first thing we need to do is marinade the chicken. I’m using chicken thighs for this recipe because I feel like chicken thighs have so much more flavor than chicken breast. But just using chicken thighs isn’t enough, the marinade is crucial because it’ll really ensure a flavorful fried chicken for our sandwich. In a bowl or baking dish, combine the boneless skinless chicken thighs, pickled jalapeño brine, salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
**Note: Just keep in mind that the brine will begin to cook through the chicken so it might appear to get white on the outside, but that’s okay. Don’t worry! It’s normal. The jalapeño brine will give the chicken just a tiny kick, without making it overly spicy.**
Let’s work on the dredging for the chicken. It’s pretty basic. In a shallow baking dish (I like using a pie plate) combine the egg, buttermilk, and hot sauce. In a separate baking dish, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and spices.
**Tip: Adding cornstarch to your flour mixture of anything you dredge and fry is a great way to get a crispy crunchy coating. You should give it a try next time you fry anything!**
Once the chicken has marinaded, drain and discard the liquid. Then run each chicken through the flour mixture, patting it on both sides to ensure even coating. Transfer them to a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
Then take about 3 to 4 tablespoons of the buttermilk egg mixture and drizzle it over the top of the dry ingredients. Give it a toss to evenly combine and to create a crumbly coarse mixture.
**Tip: Doing this also ensures for a crispy crunchy coating because the liquid will create little clumps of flour and those clumps will fry up crispy.**
Then take the flour coated chicken thighs, and run through the buttermilk, then back into the crumbly flour mixture. Return the chicken to the wire rack and continue coating the rest in the same manner. Allow the chicken to chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
**Tip: You never want to dredge and then fry immediately because you run the risk of the coating coming off during frying. Allowing it to air dry a bit on a wire rack (so that air circulates from top to bottom) will allow it to really stick to the chicken.**
In the meantime, make the garlicy mayo spread for the sandwiches. In a small bowl, stir together the mayo, garlic, chives, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use. The sauce can be made up to 2 days in advance. The longer it sits, the less strong garlic flavor it’ll be.
Fill a cast iron skillet just about halfway up with vegetable or canola oil. Heat to 360 degrees F, once hot, fry the chicken in batches, flipping over halfway for even browning, about 5 to 8 minutes. Drain well on paper towels, and then transfer the chicken to a clean wire rack, set over a baking sheet.
**Note: Placing the fried chicken on a wire rack will keep air circulating and keep the chicken from getting soggy.**
You’ll also need pickle slices, and shredded iceberg lettuce. Split the brioche rolls in half and toast on a hot buttered pan or griddle.
Spread each half of the buns with the garlicy mayo you made earlier. If you’re not a fan of garlic, simple mayo on the sandwich would be okay, as that’s how most fast food versions are served. I like the little kick of garlic and lemon and chives to a store bought mayo.
Top the bottom with pickle slices and then the top bun with shredded lettuce. If you want to add a slice of cheese, like swiss or provolone, I wouldn’t be mad at it.
Place a crispy fried chicken thigh onto of the pickles and then sandwich together with the top bun with the lettuce. You can skewer with a long toothpick to hold it all in place.
These sandwiches are best when eaten right away, because the chicken will be crispy and hot. But room temperature wouldn’t be the worst thing. Slider versions of this would be amazing with smaller pieces of chicken!
If you’re in a bit of a rush, or you want to make this tonight and realized that you don’t really have time or want to marinate the chicken for 4 hours. You can do a dry marinade with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and let the chicken rest for about 15 minutes. That’s the right amount of time to get the rest of the components together.
So I made these with a brioche bun, but if you’re not a fan of brioche buns or can’t find any, simple sesame hamburger buns will work great here too! You got options, aka no excuses to give it a try.
There are many simple recipes out there that I think we should all keep on hand, in our repertoire, because they’re classics and this Fried Chicken Sandwich is most definitely a classic. That’s what this entire Classics series on the blog is all about. When I first started it years ago, I wanted them to reflect easy recipes that we all know and love, but fail proof and at everyone’s reach. You got this. You can do it.
- 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 cup pickled jalapeño brine
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- vegetable oil for frying
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 4 brioche or sesame seed hamburger buns
- 1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
- ¼ cup sliced pickles
- In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, jalapeño brine, salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. Just keep in mind that the brine will begin to cook the chicken and it might make it white, but that's okay.
- In a shallow dish, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and cayenne pepper. In a separate shallow dish, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, and hot sauce.
- Drain and discard the chicken marinade. Coat each chicken thigh in flour, patting it on both sides to coat evenly. Transfer to a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Then take about 3 tablespoons of the buttermilk mixture and drizzle it into the remaining flour mixture. Give it a toss to create a crumbly texture. This will make a crunchy coating for the chicken when you go to fry it. Dip each piece of chicken into the egg and then into the flour mixture, returning to the wire rack. Once all the chicken has been coated, allow to rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes. This will ensure the coating sticks.
- Fill a cast iron skillet, just about halfway up with vegetable oil and bring to 360 degrees F, using a deep-fry thermometer. Once hot, fry the chicken in batches until golden brown and crispy, flipping over half way, about 7 to 8 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a clean wire rack set over a baking sheet.
- To make the sauce, in a small bowl, stir together the mayo, lemon juice, chives, garlic, salt and pepper until evenly combined.
- Split the rolls in half and toast on a butter skillet or griddle on the stove. Spread each half liberally with the garlic mayo and lay a few slices of pickles onto each bottom. Place a piece of fried chicken on, and shredded lettuce. Replace with the top bun and serve. Enjoy!