Hey everyone! Welcome back to Kelly’s Kitchen. I am so happy you’re here this week! We are exactly one week away from the Fourth of July and while most people are thinking about cookouts and classic BBQ recipes, I want to visit another American Classic today – a fried chicken sandwich. Ours, of course, is going to have a little twist: instead of buttermilk, we’re using yogurt. And instead of typical tomato and lettuce, we’re taking a note from a pulled pork sandwich and topping our fried chicken with coleslaw.
Ugh, frying chicken seems like such a hassle, right? I know; it’s why I always think twice before signing on to make anything fried. But with a clever set up of your cook station and using the right equipment, it’s really not bad at all. Even with the most powerful oven hood fan, you will smell up your kitchen like a truck stop grill and your hair will smell like you worked a shift over the fry basket at McDonalds, but it’s a small price to pay for the delicious results of your efforts.
Let’s make a Fried Chicken Sandwich!
I am starting with six boneless, skinless chicken thighs. We are going to marinate them for about three hours in yogurt –instead of buttermilk. you can definitely use buttermilk if you like, but I like the thicker viscosity of the yogurt. Try it, I think you’ll find it works really well. And with yogurt, you’ll have more use for the leftovers.
For the marinade, we are using about 1.5 cups of plain unsweetened yogurt. Thin it out slightly with about ½ cup of water. We have Frank’s Red Hot sauce, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder and salt. I eyeballed the measurements and tasted as I went along. You can too! The yogurt is a perfect blank canvas, so get creative.
Mix generous shakes of your herbs and spices, plus a glug or two of Frank’s and taste it. Add more of anything you feel it needs to be a savory, tangy blend with a little kick.
Put your chicken thighs in a Ziplock and pour in the marinade. Smoosh it around to coat the chicken and squeeze the air out as best you can, seal it up and put it in the fridge for about three hours.
Meanwhile, let’s make coleslaw.
I have two cute baby cabbages but you can use half of a full size cabbage. Purple or green. I made this coleslaw for a family dinner last week and Alex has asked that we keep some in the fridge at all times this summer, so make extra if you can – it’s so good!
Cut your cabbage in half, and flat side down, thinly slice your cabbage. I like to make carrot ribbons (like we did for the Vietnamese grilled pork bowls last week), you can use shredded carrots if you like. I used three carrots, but use however many you like!
Then, the secret here is that I cheated. Yes, I used store-bought coleslaw dressing. I recommend doing this. Especially if your husband expects coleslaw with every meal. All. Summer. Long. Make it easy on yourself. Then cover it and put it in the fridge.
Flash forward three hours and our chicken is ready to go. But first, let’s get our oil going and our cook station prepped.
The Set Up
The objective here is to minimize hot oil splatter from greasing up your stove, making a big ol’ mess and burning you. We’re dealing with 350 degree oil so we want to be careful. Use a dutch oven; it’s so much easier, safer and better than a skillet. Set your dutch oven up on your left front burner. Place a sheet tray with a cooling rack directly to the left of the dutch oven. If you don’t have a counter to the left of your stovetop, set it up to the right. Basically, this is where you’ll place the fried chicken and it will catch any splatter from hitting your counter. Put your kosher salt there too, we will salt the hot fried chicken immediately after it comes out of the oil. You will also want your meat thermometer there so you can verify the chicken thighs hit their 170 degree doneness. Don’t forget your tongs.
Pour in your vegetable oil so that it’s about one inch high in your dutch oven. Get your candy thermometer in place. If you don’t have one, that’s ok, you can test the heat of the oil by dropping in a glop of the breading and if it bubbles like crazy it’s probably hot enough. But I recommend a candy thermometer because I like to be sure of my temperature when I am cooking meat. That, and if the oil isn’t hot enough, the chicken will take longer to cook and that just means soaking up more oil. While the oil is coming up to 350 degrees, let’s dredge the chicken.
Add about a cup of flour to a bowl or plate and take one chicken thigh at a time and lay it on the flour, then using your hand, spoon flour over the top of the thigh to cover, then pull out the thigh and gently shake off the excess flour. Lay the thigh on a sheet tray. Repeat for all your thighs. Add more flour to your bowl as needed. Incidentally, notice my sheet tray has a Mickey Mouse shaped burn. Cute!
Here’s a top-down view of my cook station. If you can replicate this, or something similar, you will be in good shape in terms of preparation and keeping your stovetop clean.
We’re at temperature. Turn on your hood fan and let’s start frying that chicken.
Do two thighs at a time. The temperature of your oil will drop significantly so be there to adjust your burner as needed to maintain the temperature. My thighs are pretty small so they took only about 12 minutes to cook. They will start to float when they’re done, so be there to look for that. When they’re floating and golden, pull them out and take their temperature. If they’re at 168-170 they’re done, give them a good sprinkle of salt. Repeat this process for the rest of your thighs.
Toast your buns! Get a skillet and drop in a knob of butter, a spoonful of bacon fat, whatever you got! I am using duck fat. Over medium heat, wait for it to get it hot and lay your buns to toast. I am using brioche buns. I like the pillowy texture of brioche with the crunch of the fried chicken. It’s a very pleasing texture combination. The potato buns we used for our smash burgers would be another good choice. You want the flat sides of your buns to get a nice deep crisp – it has to hold up under the fried chicken and the coleslaw.
Place a thigh on the bottom bun. Mound a heaping spoonful of coleslaw on top. Add a few shakes of Frank’s and top with your top bun.
Fried chicken. It’s an All-American favorite. It takes a little more time and it’s a little bit messy. But remember, it’s all about the prep. So try my tips for how to set up your cook station and trust me, you’ll finish this cook thinking, “that wasn’t so bad, I would do that again.” And the muffled “mmmm’s” of enjoyment from your family will be an added bonus. I hope you enjoyed my tutorial on how to make a fried chicken sandwich and don’t forget you can find me on Instagram and Facebook too! Take care, everyone. Be well, xo Kelly