Scott: This is a deep fried, crunchy miracle perched atop a pickle pedestal. When I bit into it I swear I heard a harp playing in the distance. Maybe it was a banjo. The potato bun muffled my inner dialogue. Either way, true story.
Paula: A truly great chicken sandwich takes you to your happy place, inspiring soundtracks and a montage of joyful visions. Creating layers of flavor elevates this one above the rest. First, a seasoned pickle juice and buttermilk brine infuse the chicken with a tangy flavor. Second, the flour dredge is considerably kicked up with Chica Licka Bam Bam, our Cajun-style spice blend (hence the Bam Bam). Finally, a sticky, hot honey drizzle crowns the crispy chicken with an addictive sweet-and-fiery finish (feel free to adjust the cayenne to your heat preference, or leave it out entirely).
Scott: I want you to know that I just posted a letter to Stockholm nominating you for the Nobel Prize for Fried Chicken Sandwiches. I had to put like seven stamps on it, and there’s some hot sauce thumb prints on the edges of the paper, but I feel really good about your chances.
Paula: (Dabs eyes...considers possibility of expensing couture ensemble for acceptance speech.)
Hot Honey Bam Bam
Makes up to 8 Sandwiches
Even if you’re only making a couple sandwiches, it’s just as easy to fry eight thighs as four, and you’ll be happy to have crispy chicken leftovers.
- 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed as needed
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Potato rolls (such as Martin’s), lightly toasted
- Sliced pickles, for serving
- 3/4 cup pickle juice (I used Best Maid)
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons Creole (or whole grain) mustard
- 2 teaspoons Chica Licka Bam Bam
- 1⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons Chica Licka Bam Bam, plus more for seasoning chicken
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce (such as Crystal)
Hot honey drizzle:
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoon hot sauce (such as Crystal)
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Pinch cayenne (or more as desired for heat)
Whisk together the pickle juice, buttermilk, Creole mustard and Chica Licka Bam Bam in a medium bowl. Add the chicken thighs, gently toss to blend, then cover and refrigerate for at least two hours (or up to 8 hours). (You can also marinate the mixture in a sealable plastic bag.)
When you’re ready to cook, remove the chicken thighs from the brine, pat dry, and lightly season with Chica Licka Bam Bam.
Create two dredge stations: In a shallow bowl, whisk together the flour and Chica Licka Bam Bam. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and hot sauce.
Heat ½ inch depth of vegetable oil in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) to 325 F, and heat the oven to 250 F. Place a wire cooling rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. While the oil heats, make the Hot Honey Drizzle by combining the butter, honey, hot sauce, Worcestershire, and cayenne in a small saucepan or microwavable bowl. Gently heat the mixture until the butter melts, stirring to combine; set aside.
When the oil is at temperature, fry the chicken (if you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the heat by adding a pinch of flour dredge to the skillet; if it audibly sizzles on contact you’re ready to cook). Dip a chicken thigh in the flour dredge, shaking off excess, then submerge it in the buttermilk wash, then give it a second spin in the dredge, coating completely. Repeat with remaining thighs.
Fry three to four chicken thighs at a time until they’re crisp and deeply golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Use tongs to transfer the hot thighs to the cooling rack, place the baking sheet in the oven, and repeat with remaining chicken.
To make the sandwiches, top one half of a lightly toasted potato roll with sliced pickles. Top with a crispy chicken thigh, a generous drizzle of the hot honey mixture, and top of roll. Serve immediately, with the beverage of your choice and plenty of napkins.
Grill-side banter provided by food writer, cookbook author and grilling enthusiast, Paula Disbrowe, and infamous grill nerd and co-owner of PK Grills, Scott Moody.
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