Fried chicken sandwich with brown butter pretzel bun, furikake corn, and sesame slaw

I’ve seen spicy fried chicken sandwiches popping up since last year when I was watching Top Chef: California, where my favorite contestant, Marjorie Meek-Bradley, prepared one for a quickfire challenge. Since then, it has resurfaced with Shake Shack, and is a favorite guilty pleasure of my older sister’s. Now personally, I’m a big wuss the type of guy who needs a tall glass of anything whenever I’m eating spicy foods, or else my mouth and stomach will hate me for days to come. TMI? Probably. Whoops. However, this is my chance to make a spicy dish that can appeal to people who are like me and can’t necessarily handle their spice, but want to better understand what all the rage is about! So let’s go and make a slightly less spicier version of Chick-fil-A already!

So for the chicken itself, I’m going to season it with ginger, a tiny, tiny bit of cayenne pepper, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, and of course, motherfucking salt. I’m going to use a de-boned chicken thigh for my meat, because the dark meat is juicier and packs in more flavor. I will admit, frying a chicken thigh is a lot harder, but I have a couple tricks to guarantee a fried, completely cooked-through thigh, so do not worry. We’ve got this, bitches.

For the accompaniments for the chicken, we are going to also make our own bread from scratch. Now I typically defer to my mochiko milk roll recipe for all things bread related, but I did not want to do that for this one. Instead, we are going to make pretzel rolls. I just love how hearty and rustic a pretzel roll is, and the flavor of it contrasts the (slightly) spicy fried chicken wonderfully. It is genuinely an awesome combination. Fun fact: what really makes a pretzel dough different from a normal bread dough are two things: using brown sugar in the dough, and dipping the dough into either lye or a baking soda-water mixture, before baking it off.

For other things I’m putting into the sandwich, we have a peppered aioli, a watermelon radish slaw with sesame-honey vinaigrette, and a peppered aioli. The inspiration for the slaw actually came about when I was on a hike, and thinking about different kinds of vinaigrettes I can come up with for different kinds of salads or dishes in general. I just think that the sesame-honey combination, being a tad sweet, will offset the spice levels in the chicken, guaranteeing that you will get a slight kick, but before you need to reach for that glass of [insert presumably drinkable liquid here], the vinaigrette will have already cooled it down for you.

For the chicken:
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon black vinegar
1 egg
1 cup rice flour
1/4 cup cornstarch

Mix together the black pepper, ginger, Cayenne, garlic powder, and paprika with the black vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce. Allow the chicken thighs to marinate in the mixture for at least 1 hour. In a bowl, beat the eggs, and season the flour with your remaining salt. Combine rice flour and cornstarch together, sift, and then divide your flour mixture into two portions. Dredge the chicken thighs in half of the flour, and then dip into the egg, and then coat in the other half of the flour. Fill a pot with about 3 inches of oil. Bring oil up to 350 degrees F and then start deep-frying your chicken, about 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. If the chicken is still undercooked in the center, bake in a 400 degree F oven for another 6 minutes, and then allow the chicken to rest on a wire rack.

Pepper aioli:
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons mirin
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups oil (canola, vegetable, olive, I don’t give a shit, use whatever because you’re not frying with it anyways)

Combine the egg yolks with the vinegar or lemon juice, the pepper, and the salt first. While whisking, slowly stream in the oil. Please do not try to be resourceful re-use the frier oil from the chicken. That oil is not meant to be re-used, because it will just make anything taste 100% greasier than it would have already tasted and would impart the scent of burnt oil. Trust me, I tried. It ruined a batch of cupcakes I made.

1 cup chopped kale; stems removed
1 carrot; peeled
1 watermelon radish

Literally julienne the vegetables as thin as possible (using a mandolin can help, but if you do not want to endanger your fingers, you can just use a knife and nobody will call you a little bitch for doing it), and toss in the vinaigrette. While I have posted some incredibly challenging recipes in the past, this slaw is easily the hardest thing I have ever asked of anyone to do. Especially because of the next part: plate it. Le gasp. Good luck. You’ll need it. I’m going to go cheese grate my head now because the amount of sarcasm I am exuding is driving me insane.

2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar or lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons tahini paste

Literally just mix everything together. If that was hard, then good luck with trying to be a productive member of society. You should probably audition for that cancelled British reality show, Young, Dumb, and Living Off Mum, because you’re clearly not fit to do anything if that were the case.

Furikake corn:
4 ears of corn, shucked and cut in half
3 tablespoons canola oil

Toss the corn in everything, except the furikake, and saute in a pan until the exterior browns. Finish off in a 350 degree F oven for another 10 minutes, then dress the corn in aioli and furikake to finish.

For the pretzel rolls:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fermented soy flour
1 packet dry active yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup 100 degree F water
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter; browned
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1 cup water

Combine yeast, water, and sugar and allow sit for 10 minutes. Sift together the flours. In another bowl, combine the egg, butter, and canola oil. Combine everything together and knead until the dough is supple and firm. Allow to sit, covered, for 1 hour. Divide dough into six rolls. Bring baking soda and water to a boil. Boil each roll for 30 seconds on each side in the water, and strain. Sprinkle with salt, score the tops of the rolls, and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.

For assembly:
Toasted pretzel rolls
Pepper aioli
Fried chicken

Make sure to cut the bread in half before you toast it. Or else you’re really dumb, and even Young, Dumb, and Living Off Mum cannot save you. I swear to God, the British have the funniest reality shows. Between that one and Am I Hotter Than My Daughter?. But enough about my hobbies. Spread the aioli on each half of the toasted bread. Then place on the chicken and then the other half of the bun. Plate the slaw on the side with the corn. Enjoy while the chicken is still warm, but not lip-blisteringly hot!

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