Two days ago a long lost fly fishing buddy, let’s just call him RC from Salt Lake City, called.
Not to reconnect after a decade and change estranged. Not to check on the family. Not even to ask about fishing conditions or beg a bed and a hot shower on his next run to fish Montana (my initial guess at to what he was really after…).
Nope. He wanted a recipe.
After a somewhat hasty exchange of small talk, the conversation went something like this.
RC: Hey, remember that time on the South Fork (of the Snake) that guy (his name was Reggie by the way) made those frickin’ chicken sandwiches with the spicy slaw? (4 second pause followed by small cough) I need the recipe.
Me: (7 second pause). Hell yes. Crispy chicken with a buttermilk crust. Jalapeno slaw with bread and butter pickles. Sriracha mayo. (Another 4 second pause) I don’t have it (the recipe).
RC: Bullsh*t. You have to have it.
Me: Ain’t got it.
RC: Well dammit to hell. I promised Mrs. RC I could do those sandwiches for this big family get together and I need to find that recipe.
Me: Dig around for a spicy slaw and just fry up chicken breast halves with a buttermilk dip. Easy peasy.
Me: And use a nice sandwich roll, toasted.
I admire people who are passionate about their food, even if their phone etiquette is lacking.
RC got me to thinking about that summer day on the South Fork of the Snake in Idaho. We’d been flinging small dries to intermittently interested rainbows all day. It had been bluebird clear, hot and respectable but a far cry from hot-damn quality fishing. We’d done a very long day on the river, somewhere in the 15 hour range, and the gang was famished by the time we hit camp.
The chicken-master that day was Reggie, who fired up his two burner Camp Chef grill and went to work making the most outrageous bank-side chicken sandwich you’ve ever seen. He’d pre-made the slaw, the secret of which was the bread and butter pickles and a bit of the sweet pickle juice, and pulled out containers of buttermilk, seasoned flour and the sliced chicken breast.
He deftly floured each breast, dipped them into the cold buttermilk, back once again into the flour and then slid them into the hot oil. They were done in minutes and piled high on toasted sandwich rolls slathered with spicy mayo and a big scoop of the slaw.
They were even better than they sound right now. Crispy crusted chicken, hot from the fire, met the spicy cool of the slaw and made magic that night on the riverbank. When you’re half starved and standing on the bank of a mighty Western river anything tastes good – but damn, these were really good. Actually they were great.
In fond memory of the slaw storm of controversy this slaw dog post created (some folks besides Tom Chandler get damned testy about their slaw dogs) we’re calling these The Slaw Hits the Fan Chicken Sandwich.
Go to it RC.
Simple Spicy Slaw
3 cups hand sliced (thinly sliced please) green cabbage
3 cups hand sliced (thinly sliced please) purple cabbage
1 smallish red onion, thinly sliced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
3/4 cup bread and butter pickle slices, chopped roughly
1/3 cup bread and butter pickle juice, maybe more
1 cup mayonnaise (Ed would use Miracle Whip)
1 finely diced garlic clove
1-2 tbsp. Sriracha to taste
4 1/2-lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast, halved crosswise and pounded to even thickness
3 cups AP flour
2 cups buttermilk
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
Oil for frying (peanut)
8 sandwich rolls, you make the call
Slaw time. Mix the slaw ingredients, let rest for an hour at least in the fridge. Taste again, you might need more pickle juice or jalapeno.
Chicken chicken chicken. Whisk together the flour, chili powder and pepper; buttermilk goes in a bowl. Heat the oil (1/2 inch deep or so) in a cast iron skillet over medium heat (350 is target temp.)
Dip each chicken piece in the flour, shake off the excess, then dip in the buttermilk and shake off. Dip again in the flour and slide into the hot oil. Shoot for three to four minutes per side to get it good and crisp (and cooked through); drain on paper towels.
Put it together. On to toasted rolls goes the Sriracha mayo, a crispy chicken breast and a pile of the simple spicy slaw.