This Buffalo Chicken Sandwich Is the Perfect Summer Meal
The ultimate feast for game day. Or, for that matter, any day.
Fried chicken sandwiches are everywhere these days, whether as a fast-food offering or an upscale play on childhood nostaglia. But for chef Brandon Whitestone, director of culinary and partner at Alexandria Restaurant Partners, which operates nine restaurants in Northern Virginia and Florida, the sandwich is best experienced as a game-day meal — and it’s a game he is determined to win.
It starts with chicken thighs, which Whitestone prefers to breasts thanks to their richer flavor. They’re marinated overnight in a hot sauce-dominant mélange that eschews industry standard in opting for Texas Pete, which is made with aged cayenne that makes it twice as spicy than more standard sauces. “Texas Pete hot sauce brings the right amount of heat and complexity,” says Whitestone, “whereas a more popular choice like Frank’s becomes very mild when mixed with butter.”
He’s just as particular, if not more so, about the type of salt to use in this dish: Diamond Crystal kosher, he says, is his go-to.
“It is a pure salt with no additives and has a hollow pyramid shaped texture — as opposed to, say, Morton’s, which is pressed into flat flakes and has additives to prevent caking,” he says. Should you opt for a different brand, he says, the flavor might be thrown due to the differences in densities.
Once you’ve stocked the proper ingredients, however, the recipe isn’t too tough to pull together. After an overnight marinade, the chicken is coated generously in seasoned flour and deep-fried until crispy and golden brown. Doused in house-made buffalo sauce, also made with a base of Texas Pete’s, the chicken is loaded onto a fluffy bun and liberally seasoned with blue cheese dressing. Sliced tomatoes and crisp iceberg lettuce join the party, resulting in the perfect sandwich for any game day — or, for that matter, any day of the week.
Theismann’s Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
For the chicken
- 2 pounds boneless chicken thighs
- 3 eggs
- 3 tablespoons Texas Pete Hot Sauce
- 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 2½ teaspoons granulated garlic
For the buffalo sauce
- 2 cups Texas Pete Hot Sauce
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the seasoned flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1½ tablespoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
For the blue cheese dressing
- 1¾ cup Duke’s mayonnaise
- ¾ cup whole buttermilk
- 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
For the sandwiches
- ½ gallon canola or vegetable oil
- 4 potato or brioche sandwich buns, 4 inches in diameter
- 4 tablespoons room temperature butter
- 1½ cups shredded iceberg lettuce
- 4 beefsteak tomato slices
1. Combine the eggs, hot sauce, and seasoning in a bowl, and whisk vigorously to break up the seasoning and eggs. (An immersion blender works well for this.)
2. Combine the egg mixture with the chicken thighs in a Ziploc bag, and massage to ensure the mixture is all over the chicken. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
3. The next day, combine the sauce ingredients in a 1-quart saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer while whisking. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes until sauce is slightly reduced. Cool to room temperature. Do not refrigerate.
4. Combine the flour, pepper, and salt and mix well. Set aside until ready to use.
5. Combine the blue cheese dressing ingredients, whisking until smooth. Set aside.
6. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until it reaches 350º F. (Use a candy or frying thermometer to keep a constant eye on the temperature.)
7. Remove the chicken from the marinade, and place it directly in the flour mixture. Turn a few times, pressing flour all over the chicken until it is completely coated. Shake off any excess flour.
8. When the oil is hot, very carefully place the chicken into the oil using tongs. Fry the chicken in batches for approximately 8-10 minutes, until a probe thermometer reads 175 degrees Fahrenheit in the center. Remove from the oil and let rest on a rack for 2 minutes.
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