Saturday, August 4, 2012

Weekend Cooking...The Perfect Chick-Fil-A (Like) Chicken Sandwich?

I am sure most of you have heard about the recent Chick-Fil-A controversy.
This is not about that!

No, I don't do politics here.
That would be a different blog.
However, I will just say I am a huge fan of the U.S. Constitution, especially that bit about free speech, whether I personally agree with something that is said or not. Which is sort of the whole point of free speech....

No, this post is about the chicken goodness that is the Chick-Fil-A sandwich and the possibility of making a very good copy of the recipe in your very own home. If you do not have a Chick-Fil-A near you and have never tasted one, it is in my opinion the best fried chicken sandwich out there, puts MickyD's to shame, crunchy and a bit salty, with just two little pickle slices as it's accoutrement.

Well, I am not smart enough to figure such things out, but happily the folks at Serious Eats have worked and worked on it and came up with one. Not surprisingly, it is not so much about the ingredients, which are probably things you already have on hand.
No, the secret is in the technique, including the idea of adding a sprinkle of the wet ingredients to the dry, something I saw on America's Test Kitchen before. Oh, leave it to my friends at ATK to come up with that idea for an extra crunchy coating with lots of nooks and crannies. And then there is the brining of the chicken in a salt, sugar and water brine, something that adds flavor, keep the chicken juicy and changes the texture..or yes, I first read about that in ATK too!
If you want to read how they went about figuring it out, head over to the link and read the details.
I will be over here having a crispy 'chikin' snack!

Yes, I copied the setup of that pic but it is my sandwich.
erious Eats Chick-Fil-A Sandwich

Makes 4 sandwiches

  • Kosher salt, 1/2 cup plus 1/2 Tbs.
  • Sugar, 1/4 cup plus 2 tsp.
  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, split horizontally into 4 cutlets
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon powdered MSG (optional)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons powdered non-fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 quarts peanut oil
  • 4 soft hamburger buns, toasted in butter
  • 8 dill pickle chips

Dissolve 1/2 cup kosher salt and 1/4 cup sugar in 2 quart of cold water. Place chicken breasts in a zipper-lock bag and add brine. Transfer to refrigerator and let sit for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.

Meanwhile, combine paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and MSG (if using), in a small bowl. Set aside. Whisk together milk and eggs in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Combine flour, non-fat milk powder, baking powder, 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt, 2 teaspoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons of spice mixture in a large bowl and whisk until homogenous. Drizzle 3 tablespoons milk/egg mixture into flour mixture and rub with fingertips until the flour mixture is coarse like wet sand.

In a large wok, deep fryer, or Dutch oven, preheat oil to 350°F.
Remove chicken breasts from brine, rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Season on all sides with remaining spice mixture. Transfer to milk mixture and turn to coat. Working one cutlet at a time, allow excess milk mixture to drip off then transfer to flour mixture. Turn to coat, pile extra mixture on top of cutlet, and press down firmly to adhere as much mixture as possible to the meat. Lift cutlet, shake off excess flour, then slowly lower into hot oil. Repeat with remaining breasts.

Cook, turning breasts occasionally until golden brown and crisp on all sides, and chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Place 2 pickles on each bottom of a toasted bun and a fried chicken cutlet on top. Close sandwiches, then cover with an overturned bowl or aluminum foil and allow to rest for 2 minutes to steam buns. Serve immediately.

OK, I think they went a little crazy with the salt. Be careful, they specify KOSHER salt, which is about half the density of regular table salt. Is you are using table salt, cut the amounts in half. As it is, I already cut the salt in the flour mixture in half (called for 1 Tbs, in original recipe).
I also doubled the water in the brine to cut the salt ratio and I rinsed my chicken in water when I took it out of the brine, and then patted dry. Again, otherwise it is just too salty.
And if you look carefully, you will notice sesame seeds on my buns. Hey, I like sesame seeds! 
But otherwise, it was a classic Chick-Fil-A (Like) was very good, very crisp, very juicy.

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. I had never heard of Chick-fil-A until all of the political hoopla.

    Have a great weekend Caite.

  2. I think we have a Chick-fil-A here but I've never eaten at it. This sounds yummy.

  3. We don't have Chick-fil-A anywhere near where I live in MI, which is fine with me. I try to steer clear of fast food anyway. But that sandwich looks pretty darn good. Even better when you make it yourself.

  4. This sounds so good, my sons would love it. Thanks for posting it.

  5. I'm not a fan of Chick-Fil-A's food and have only eaten there a handful of times.

    1. I like the sandwich..I do not like the waffle fries.

  6. I like Chick-fil-a's chicken sandwiches and they have delicous chocolate milkshakes. YUMMY. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Hope you have a great weekend.

  7. Looks good! No Chick-Fil-A here so I'd have to make my own. Have to say I prefer my chicken sandwiches without a side of politics :)

    1. I am sorry. from now on, all fast food will come with a picket sign. you get to pick!

  8. Looks like a great chicken burger. We don't call this a sandwich in my part of the world. I have linked in mushrooms on toast. Cheers

    1. If you can put it on bread...on any bread like product..., we call it a sandwich! Usually...

  9. I've never had a Chick-fil-A sandwich, but am now tempted to make one of my own!

  10. We would have to travel about 40 min to the nearest chick-fil-et 'cuz you know there is not too much in Podunk! Good tip about the salt, thanks for that.

  11. I don't think I've ever had a Chick-fil-A sandwich, but this looks good.

  12. Yum! I lI've the sandwich, the recipe to try , and everything Chick Fil A stands for!


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