This is another knock-it-out-of-the-park, classed-up trashy fast food type recipe from Bon Appetit. Last summer it was the fast food-style veggie burger. This summer it’s this crunchy, saucy, salty little number that steals my heart in much the same way (only with meat, so better!) Yes, there’s frying involved; real frying, but c’mon, it’s about time you figured that out isn’t it? You’re a grown-up (I hope, otherwise there are too many curse words on this website for you), learn to fry a chicken thigh. It’ll do you good.
BA’s Best: Fried Chicken Sandwiches
Taken directly from BA’s Best arsenal, with minor tweaks
3 tbsp kosher salt, divided + more to season
1 tsp light brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp bourbon (optional)
2 tbsp hot sauce (BA suggests something mild and salty, like Frank’s) + more to serve
Canola oil, for frying (~6-8 cups)
Toppings and Assembly:
1 clove of garlic, finely grated
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp finely chopped chives
½ tsp celery seeds
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper + more to season
4 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
4 soft hamburger buns
4 cups thinly shredded iceberg lettuce
Bread-and-butter pickles, for serving
Up to a day before cooking (and at least 2 hours prior), whisk together 1 tbsp kosher salt, sugar, and baking powder and season the chicken thighs all over – you may not need all of the “rub”. Chill the chicken thighs uncovered on a wire rack set inside a baking sheet for anywhere from 2-24 hours.
Once the chicken has chilled, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, and remaining 2 tbsp kosher salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the egg, buttermilk, bourbon (if using), and hot sauce in another medium bowl. Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge all of the thighs in the spiced flour mixture, turning to coat and packing it into all of the little nooks and crannies. Next, pour 3 tbsp buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and work it in with your fingers. Dip the dredged chicken thighs into the remaining buttermilk mixture (let excess drip off), then pack the moistened flour mixture firmly onto the chicken. Gently shake off any excess and return the chicken thighs to the wire rack. Chill at least ½ hour or up to 12 hours (apparently).
While the chicken chills, make the secret sauce by whisking together the garlic and lemon juice in a small bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes before whisking in the mayonnaise, chives, celery seeds, and pepper. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
Pour the canola oil into a large, heavy pot (or very deep, wide cast iron skillet) to come halfway up the side of the vessel. Use a deep-fry or candy thermometer to heat the oil over medium-high until it reaches 350 degrees F. Working in 2 batches, fry the chicken, flipping frequently (minding the temperature all the while and adjusting as needed to stay around 350). The chicken is ready when it has turned golden-brown (not dark golden-brown, mind you, as it will darken more as it cools), which takes anywhere from 4-8 minutes per batch. Transfer the cooked chicken thighs to a paper towel-lined cooling rack.
Just prior to serving, heat a large dry skillet over medium. Spread the soft butter on each cut side of the buns and cook buttered-side-down until deep golden-brown. While the buns cook, mix 1 tbsp pickle brine (or vinegar if you’re opposed to this) with 2 tbsp of the "secret sauce". Toss this “dressing” with the iceberg lettuce to coat (dressing as lightly or heavily as you'd like). Spread some of the remaining secret sauce over the cut sides of the buns. Assemble the sandwiches with a juicy fried chicken thigh, dressed iceberg, pickles, and more hot sauce. You’ll never make a dinner this good ever again – you know that, right?