The rule remains the same as it always has. You should try everything once except incest and folk dancing. Same applies to fried chicken. You HAVE to make it once. I don’t advocate restrictive diets, but deep-fried foodstuffs, like this fried chicken sandwich should be in moderation, like drinking before attending church and painting your toenails. Now, onto the chicken.
There’s a little store in Temescal, California owned and operated by an Australian woman, called Bakesale Betty who’s name lends itself to the classic Ram Jam tune, Black Betty, hence the title of this post. (Ed- my wife tells me Bakesale Betty is not her real name. Even though I don’t believe her, I will write this down pretending that I believe she is correct. How could that not be her real name?) It is a relatively small store but it always has long lines of customers stretching around its corner waiting to buy the much coveted Fried Chicken sandwich. If you’re ever in the area, it is well worth the visit.
What makes this sandwich particularly special, in my opinion, is the coleslaw. The chicken is also impressive, but the coleslaw is out of this world. Instead of using a typical mayonnaise dressing, Bakesale Betty instead uses an olive oil-based vinaigrette and packs her ‘slaw with pickled red onions and chunky slices of jalapenos. If you’re looking for a side salad to put on your picnic table, or better yet, on your fried chicken sandwich, then this is the recipe. And if you feel that fried chicken is one of those dishes you know you won’t be able to make just once, then I suggest you take up folk dancing to burn off those extra calories.
Go ahead, chicken heads, make this sandwich…
And for the record, here is a link to the article where I "lifted"the recipe.
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 6 ounces each
- Kosher salt to taste
- 1 quart buttermilk
- 4 long French bread rolls
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 jalapenos, seeded, cut in half and sliced crosswise (or 4 jalapenos if you want to impress your friends)
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 green cabbage, core and outer leaves removed, and very thinly sliced
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt + more to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
- Season chicken breasts with kosher salt. Let sit at least 5 minutes. Fill a wide, shallow nonreactive bowl or casserole dish with buttermilk. Add the chicken and soak in the refrigerator for 1 hour up to overnight.
- For the vinaigrette, combine mustard, vinegar and salt in a bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil until well blended.
- For the coleslaw, macerate onions in red wine vinegar, and let sit at least 20 minutes. Remove onions and discard vinegar. Toss onions with jalapeno, parsley, cabbage and salt. Toss with vinaigrette until evenly coated.
- To fry chicken, pour vegetable oil into a large stockpot. Do not fill up more than halfway, or the oil could splatter. Bring oil up to 365°, using a digital thermometer/candy thermometer to monitor the heat. Prepare the breading while waiting for oil to heat up.
- In a wide shallow bowl, mix flour, cayenne, salt and pepper. Pull a chicken breast out of the buttermilk one by one, letting excess drip off, and dredge completely in flour. To create a thick crust, place in buttermilk and dredge in flour a second time. Do not drain or shake off excess buttermilk or flour during the breading process.
- When the oil is at 365°, carefully place chicken pieces into oil one by one. Let it cook for a minute before disturbing chicken, then help it "swim" in the oil with tongs, until it is evenly cooked, about 5-7 minutes. Remove chicken from oil and drain on paper towels. Season immediately with salt.
- For the sandwich, place fried chicken breast on bottom of torpedo roll and top generously with coleslaw.
Suggested pairing: a note from your doctor requesting the day off from the food coma you’re about to endure.