Monday, June 8, 2015

The Fried Chicken Sandwich from God

Chicken sandwiches usually are my go to when I'm out, need to grab a quick lunch and I'm not in the mood for a burger or pizza. I've eaten a lot of them. And I especially love fried chicken sandwiches.

I've made no secret of my love of Chik-Fil-A, and their tender, juicy, delicious fried chicken. They make a good one. But it's fast food, and while it's tasty as hell, it's processed.

Speaking of processed, Wendy's also comes to mind. They make a decent fried chicken sandwich too. I like their Spicy Chicken sandwich, though it's just good, and not great.

A lot of restaurants cheat, and put chicken fingers on a roll and call it a sandwich. Those tend to suck. Chicken fingers have too much breading to meat ratio. A good chicken sandwich has crunchy, well seasoned breading, but it's also got to have plenty of actual chicken meat. 
There's also got to be fat content. Obviously a fried chicken sandwich is made with boneless breast meat, and as a result, other than the oil it's fried in, there's little fat. Adding fat is key. Mayo is a great way to add fat, as well as moistness and a little acid, and most fried chicken sandwiches include mayo.

I was in Warrensburg NY over the weekend camping with a buddy. Sunday, after fishing all morning, we packed up and headed home. We had planned to stop for breakfast but by the time we got on the road it was almost 11:00, and we decided to get lunch instead. Heading down the Northway, we pulled off at exit 15, to peruse the chain restaurants in the strip mall wasteland that's just east of the exit.

I spied Hattie's Chicken Shack, it was the logical choice as frankly, there wasn't much else over there that looked that appealing with the possible exception of Five Guys, and neither of us were in the mood for a burger. 

I've eaten at the original Hattie's on Phila St. plenty of times, but had never tried the Chicken Shack location and wasn't sure what to expect. 

When you walk in, the counter and menu board greet you immediately just inside the door. And you can see the long, semi-open kitchen behind. I saw piles of fried chicken in what looked like a warming station, and my heart sank. I was saddened to see they were cooking the chicken ahead of time and letting it sit around, but I asked the girl behind the counter anyway if they cook the chicken fresh to order. Thankfully, she said they par-cook the chicken and then finish it in the fryer to order. Good! I hate lukewarm food! 

In all fairness to Hattie's, bone-in fried chicken can take 20 minutes to cook, and obviously this being a quick-service establishment that's just not going to work for people that want to eat quickly and get out. I'm super pleased that Hattie's has found an acceptable workaround to that problem and is still serving hot, freshly fried chicken. 

At this point I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this post. I saw "The Fried Chicken Sandwich" on the menu and ordered that.

It's so good I'm calling it "The Fried Chicken Sandwich from God".

Jasper Alexander, the Chef Owner of Hattie's, must've had a vision, where angels came down from heaven and gave him the recipe for his chicken sandwich. It is heavenly.

A big, thick, boneless chicken thigh. (Wait! What?) Yep, no breast meat here. That right there is genius. Dark meat is so much more flavorful than breast meat, and it usually stays juicier and more tender too. That big thigh is then coated in Hattie's famous flavor packed breading and fried to a nirvana inducing crunchiness. 

The chicken is topped with fresh cajun spiced cole slaw. And the cole slaw itself is delicious. Mayo based, it adds the needed fat content, but it also adds more crunch from the crisp cabbage. It's quite spicy, and I loved the heat level of it. And it's cold and adds a layer of temperature contrast to the piping hot fried chicken. It's very moist too. The juice from the coleslaw was running down my hands as I was eating it.

I ordered the smaller of the two portions (the Junior) and it was more than enough, but if you're feeling frisky, go for the larger, which for just one dollar more adds a second chicken thigh.

It's served on a good sized hard roll, and the whole thing comes together to make one damn good sandwich. I'm already plotting my next excursion to exit 15, where I plan to make a pig of myself and get the double thigh monster.

Below is the double thigh portion. The photo I took didn't come out very well, so I grabbed this pic off Hattie's Facebook page.
Just look at that thing!





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