Sunday, June 21

What's Your Favorite Chicken Sandwich?

chicken cutlet sandwich 1

How did chicken sandwiches become so popular in the U.S.? Supply and demand. The emergence of large scale chicken processing companies such as Perdue and Tyson in the 1920’s and 1930’s respectively, helped propel chicken’s popularity in America. With such easy availability, chicken prices decreased, consumption increased, and chicken became a steady part of the American diet.

With many families cooking whole chickens, leftovers became standard lunch fare. Sliced leftover chicken meat became a favorite filling for sandwiches (and was the original filling for the classic club sandwich).

Fast food chicken sandwiches as we know them originated in 1967, when Truett Cathy, founder of the Atlanta based restaurant chain Chick-fil-A, introduced the chicken sandwich -- a perfectly crispy-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside breaded boneless breast of chicken served on a toasted buttered bun with dill pickle chips. Whether it's fact or fiction, Cathy claimed that pickles were the only condiment he had on hand, and to his delight, were a big hit with consumers. Other fast food chains quickly followed suit. Then in the late 1980's and early '90's the grilled chicken sandwich emerged as a healthier alternative to the fried original.

It seems everyone has a favorite chicken sandwich; mine is an Italian chicken cutlet sandwich with garlicky sautéed broccoli rabe (a popular Italian vegetable know for its distinctively bold and bitter flavor) and melted sharp Provolone cheese. The best place to get this type of chicken sandwich is at a mom 'n pop Italian deli or pizzeria, where all the guys behind the counter are named Paulie, Joey, or Tony. If you don't have one where you live, then just make your own, because this sandwich is freakin' awesome.

So, tell me, what's your favorite chicken sandwich?

chicken cutlet sandwich 4

Italian Chicken Cutlet Sandwich with Broccoli Rabe and Provolone

Makes 4 sandwiches
Print recipe only here.

4 (4-6 ounces) chicken cutlets (about ½-inch thickness)
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons olive oil

Broccoli Rabe:
1 bunch broccoli rabe, stems removed*
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt

4 torpedo rolls or ciabatta rolls
8 slices provolone cheese

1. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk eggs, milk, crushed red pepper, and salt.

2. Place flour in a separate wide, shallow bowl. Repeat with breadcrumbs.

3. In a large skillet over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons olive oil.

4. Dip one chicken cutlet at a time in the flour, then in the egg mixture, allowing excess to drip into the bowl. Dredge in the bread crumbs, ensuring that the entire cutlet is evenly coated. Add to the skillet, and cook 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown and crisp. Place on a paper-towel lined dish. Repeat with remaining slices.

5. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Boil broccoli rabe for 2 minutes; drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water. “Shocking” the rabe will maintain its vivid green color.

6. In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and garlic. Sauté until garlic starts to turn golden. Add broccoli rabe, crushed red pepper, and salt. Sauté 1-2 minutes more until just tender.

7. Place one split roll on a clean work surface. Place chicken cutlet on the bottom half of the roll. Top with ¼ of the broccoli rabe and 2 slices of cheese. Place under a broiler for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese melts. Serve immediately.

*Shopping Note: Broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, rape, and broccoli raab, is a popular Italian vegetable. It looks like slender broccoli and has a sharp, slightly bitter flavor. It is available at Italian markets as well as most major supermarkets.

Substitute veal cutlets for chicken.

You might also like:

Broccoli Rabe (Rapini) and Sausage Sandwich with Sharp Provolone

Grilled Lamb Sandwich

Monte Cristo Sandwich


Unknown said...

I love chicken cutlets with basil pesto - or grilled chicken with some sort of smoky chipotle sauce and some provolone. BUt really, the options are limitless. Your recipe sounds great :)

debra said...

This sounds tasty---and the combination of flavors sounds wonderful.

Manggy said...

Mine would probably be a spicy chicken breast fillet sandwich-- if it's ridiculously hot, I don't even care what it comes with! :)

Alanna Kellogg said...

You see, this is why I'm so looking forward to your book. Favorite chicken sandwich? Hmm, not sure I can name a single one, not beyond chicken salad, say. Sandwiches aren't 'defined' to me, they're just lunch, often good, but never assembled with any real plan.

Creative Classroom Core said...

This could easily become my new favourite chicken sandwich! Sounds delish!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I have to go with a classic -- grilled chicken, sliced avocado, chipotle mayo.

Alisa - Frugal Foodie said...

Hawaiian with pineapple and teriyaki, as long as the teriyaki isn't too salty. Plain old, smothered in bbq sauce with some coleslaw topping is a summer favorite too :)

Deeba PAB said...

I think I'm veering towards this as my fave. I like the way you did it up Susan. You gotta book comin' along? YAY!!

Parita said...

Oh my this looks delicious Susan!!

Anh said...

Love your recipe!

I love my sandwich the Vietnamese way. Grilled chicken, a lot of pickles, chili and Vietnamese mayo. :)

janetfaye said...

I like Roasted Chicken on a roll with sliced tomato.

Anonymous said...

Mmmmm....I love a good chicken sandwich and would sometimes make extra just to insure there was some to have the next day. Truthfully, I like it cold and preferably dark on toasted bread, spread with......anything really- chipotle mayo, pesto, honey mustard, blue cheese dressing.... topped with field greens or spinach, thin cucumbers and tomato. A grilled chicken sandwich, topped with grilled slices of eggplant and zucchini and drizzled with a little italian dressing is also a good option.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

My favourite chicken sandwhich would have to have something to do with pesto, spinach and red onions:D

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

There is nothing like a chicken cutlet sandwich from an Italian deli, that's for sure. Make it a parmigiana and it's even better.

I also like a grilled chicken sandwich some some roasted peppers, arugula, and maybe some fresh mozzarella. Pesto is a nice condiment too.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

citygirl-You're right. The options are limitless, which keeps the humble sandwich so appealing.

debra-I hear ya!

mark-I love hot and spicy foods too!

alanna-Surprisingly, I never was a fan of chicken salad, but lately it has been growing on me, esp. curried chicken salad with mango and raisins.

finsmom-Oh, thank you so much!

lydia-Classic and classically good.

alisa-I haven't had that combo in a sandwich before. Pizza yes, but not sandwich. I can't wait to try it now! Thanks so much!

deeba-Mine is your fave? Aw, thanks. :)

parita-I'm glad you like it!

ahn-Mmm... that sounds so delicious!

janet-Simple and delicious.

kate-Ah, yes, love grilled chicken with grilled veggies too, esp. w/pesto and fresh mozzarella.

val-Chicken and pesto are perfect partners.

sdoc-Oh, yes, yes, yes, on both of those! I love them!

sage said...

My fave chicken sandwich was the "Don't be a Chicken" from this little veggie restaurant in Baraboo, WI. Made of fried, marinated, breaded and finally broiled tofu and served with a creamy lemon dressing.

Other than that, I haven't eaten chicken since 1988, so I couldn't tell you.

Culinary Wannabe said...

I am obsessed with Chick-fil-A. So much so that we served it as late night food at our wedding! Sad that we don't have one in new york, but the new McD chicken sandwich is a (distant) substitute.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

It looks amazing! I don't have a place with Paulie, Joey, and Tony, so I guess I'm on my own with this one.

Annie said...

I've always loved chicken cutlet sandwiches, so this one would definitely be on my top 5 list...

Anonymous said...

Fabulous looking sandwich, Susan! I don't know if I could pick a favorite chicken sandwich. I am definitely a big fan of a grilled chicken with pesto, provolone & diced tomato sandwich, though. OK, I'll call it my favorite. :)

Mel P. said...

Actually, I prefer the Club Sandwich approach: chicken with bacon, avocado, mayo (homemade) and perhaps a slice of cheese.
Yours looks great, although I've never tasted broccoli rabe...

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Maybe I'd better try this one before I make a mistake ...

Susan from Food Blogga said...

kotzebue-Sounds tasty! Thanks for sharing it with us.

ashley-At your wedding? That's hysterical. My BIL in Georgia shares your Chick-fil-A passion.

lynn- Good thing I've got you covered then. :)

annie-Spoken like a true Rho- DI -landah. ;)

elly-That's definitely worthy of being a favorite.

mel-You haven't? Well, you'd better add it to your grocery list, b/c you're missing out!


tamilyn said...

I like a roasted chicken breast shredded and rolled in a wrap with a little mayo, some bacon, and a little cheese. Yum!

Abby said...

I LOVE chick-fil-a. Could eat it everyday, but I know I shouldn't.

If I'm making a sandwich at home? I like sliced, roasted chicken, my mom's homemade sweet pickles and mayo. When I was a kid it would be on white bread. Today? Ciabatta. Yum.

I'm a simple gal.

Kara said...

Oh you tempt me with mentioning Chick-Fil-A!! My college dorm room was decorated with their cows, of course all adorned with phonetically spelled "Go Deekons".

Just made a new chicken sandwich of sorts last night... marinated the (pounded flat) chicken in chopped fresh rosemary, white wine, ground black pepper and a splash or two of olive oil and grilled... topped with some crumbled feta and enclosed in a toasty hard roll. Doesn't hold a candle to CFA but we loved it nonetheless.

Gattina Cheung said...

that rapini peeking through the buns look so tempting! about my favorite sandwich, juicy scamble egg and melting cheese on very soft loft, plus lots of cracked pepper :D

The Fearless Fowler said...

I am also eternally grateful to Mr. Cathy for the blissful Chic-fil-A sandwich. Nothing compares to the simplicity of the breaded chicken breast, bun, and pickle.

But my personal favorite is the chicken salad sandwich, made with mayo, celery, chicken, and toasted almonds topped with slices of ripe tomato and lettuce on thick whole grain bread. To me it's happiness in every bite. Wash it down with some sweet tea and life could not get better.

Michelle @ Find Your Balance said...

My favorite chicken sandwich is definitely made with pastured chickens who've eaten from the land and are not debeaked!

Jennifer said...

That is totally out of this world!! YUM!!!!!

Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said...

Susan, I think I found nirvana in this sandwich! Those ingredients are to die for...I literally cannot stop salivating!

Anshika said...

I love simple chicken sandwitch which are spicy and juicy. A bite and you are in heaven that should be the flavor.

Peter M said...

A grilled chicken Caesar...grilled breast, varying flavours (Jerk seasoning), mayo or Ceaser dressing and leafy green lettuce...maybe a tomato.

Cakespy said...

Um, this sandwich happens to be my favorite, as of a minute ago when I discovered it!

Katie Zeller said...

Chicken sarnies are my very favorite.... A bit of lettuce is nice, too....
Provolone - great addition!