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Sandwich of the Week: Naked Lunch’s Fried Chicken Sandwich

Sandwich of the Week: Naked Lunch’s Fried Chicken Sandwich

This San Francisco sandwich shop has a rotating menu, sometimes serving the fried lunchtime delight

Foursquare/ Carly G

Naked Lunch’s “Mary’s Farm Fried Chicken Sandwich” in San Francisco.

San Francisco is known as a town for food lovers, though sandwiches may not always be the first dish associated with The City by the Bay. Naked Lunch, located in the North Beach neighborhood on the corner of Kearny and Broadway, and their “Mary’s Farm Fried Chicken Sandwich” may change your thinking about the city’s offerings of this lunch staple.

The shop is open Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch, 12 p.m. to “late” on Saturday, and 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday, and lists a rotating menu of specialty sandwiches. Their fried chicken item, though not served every day, is by far their customer favorite, amassing scores of positive reviews on Foursquare and Yelp. It’s easy to see why, as the batter on the chicken is heavily spiced and accompanied by buttermilk and pimentón coleslaw and green garlic aioli on pain de mie. The employees will often suggest, as they ring you up for your delicious purchase, that you add some Crystal hot sauce that they supply to guests in packets.

So, if you’re in San Francisco and are lucky enough to find yourself at Naked Lunch on a day when they have their “Mary’s Farm Fried Chicken Sandwich” listed on their menu, be sure to experience for yourself what all the internet buzz is about.

Click here for other featured sandwiches or check out the 2013 Year in Sandwiches and the Sandwich of the Week Slideshow. Know a sandwich that should be featured? Email The Daily Meal or comment below. Better yet, become a contributor and write up your favorite today!

Kate Kolenda is the Restaurant/City Guide Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @BeefWerky and @theconversant.


Sandwich of the Week: Naked Lunch’s Fried Chicken Sandwich - Recipes

Along with Buc-ee’s, Willie Nelson, and incompetent politicians, Whataburger (please do not pronounce it “Water-burger”) is a Texas institution. But does the Whatachick’n Sandwich belong among such Lone Star food staples as brisket?

In short… maybe! In long: the brioche bun is sturdy, the WhataSauce is plentiful but not overwhelming, and the breast is juicy, but that’s only a half-compliment. It tastes too similar to Whataburger’s grilled chicken sandwich. There’s almost no crunch to the Whatachick’n — so it’s not worth the extra calories and saturated fat.

If you’re going to order a chicken sandwich from Whataburger, don’t. Get the patty melt on — what else? — Texas toast instead. Everything’s bigger in Texas everything’s better on Texas toast.

Find the nearest Whatburger here.

The Bottom Line:

A perfectly serviceable sandwich, but there’s a reason it’s called WhataBURGER. — Josh Kurp

Zaxby’s — Signature Sandwich

Calories: 1110

This was my maiden voyage to Zaxby’s, so I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Would I be blown away, or would I be annoyed about all the Wendy’s I could have gone to instead?

Folks, let me tell you: it will not be 30-plus years (a gentleman never tells) before I return to Zaxby’s. The Signature Sandwich is big and crunchy and delicious. My quibbles are minor: the much-hyped “famous Zax Sauce” doesn’t add much flavor and it could use a vegetable to compliment the bun and breast. But otherwise, this is a damn fine double-hand breaded fried chicken sandwich (shout out to the crispiness around the edges of this massive sandwich, too).

It’s not quite on the level of Popeye’s, but if there’s a Zaxby’s near you (there are over 900 locations across the country), I would suggest making your maiden voyage, too.

The Bottom Line

One of the best fast-food fried chicken sandwiches, but make sure you’re hungry. It’s a lot. — Josh Kurp

Culver’s — Chicken Sandwich

Calories: 460

Culver’s website guarantees that their chicken sandwich will be “crispy on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside.” The promise is half-right: the inside is juicy and tender, but the outside only technically counts as “crispy,” in that it’s crispier than, say, a slice of American cheese. The Culver’s chicken sandwich could use some melted cheese, actually, if only to offset the pickles.

As a pickle skeptic (fancy word for “hater”), I should have asked to hold the dill chips, but I forgot. That’s on me. I could taste the pickles with every bite, even after removing them. But this could still be a better-than-average sandwich if there was sauce slathered on the chicken. There isn’t. Without any zestiness or sweetness or mayo-ness, this is a subpar chicken sandwich.

The Bottom Line

Hold the pickles, add some sauce. — Josh Kurp

The Ranked Entries:

16. Dairy Queen — Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Calories: 550

Oof — that’s the sound you make after you bite into a Dairy Queen chicken sandwich. This sandwich is brutal. It’s simply the worst fast-food chicken patty I’ve ever had — overly processed and blandly seasoned yet consciously… brown. Served with mayo, lettuce, and tomato, I have no kind words for this attempt at food.

Stick to ice cream and French fries Dairy Queen.!

Order your ice cream at your local Dairy Queen here.

The Bottom Line

15. Sonic Classic Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Calories: 570

So it turns out that Sonic is not the place to go if you want even a decent chicken sandwich. Jalapeño poppers, chili cheese fries, and hot dogs? Sure. But chicken sandwiches? Never.

Served on a Brioche Bun with lettuce and mayo, this over-processed chicken patty is spongey and porous which, we agree, is a disgusting way to describe meat. The mayo does nothing for it. Ig you buy one, douse it In Sonic BBQ sauce… then light it on fire.

Find your nearest Sonic here and get the mozzarella sticks.

The Bottom Line

Don’t even eat it on a dare.

14. Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s — Bacon Swiss Crispy Chicken Fillet Sandwich

Calories: 810

How is it that an establishment that has such good chicken tenders could have such bad chicken sandwiches? Carl’s Jr/Hardee’s Crispy Chicken Fillet sandwich is among fast-food’s worst. It’s spongey and overly processed, served on a single lettuce leaf atop an overly dense white bun, with thick watery tomatoes. The swiss is a nice twist and the bacon helps to make the thing edible, but ultimately, this one is just gross.

The seasoned batter on this chicken is surprisingly tasty, with a nice spicy kick to it. But that’s just the batter. The chicken inside is almost inedible.

Find the nearest location here.

The Bottom Line

One of the worst, but it has bacon!

13. Burger King — Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Calories: 670

This photo is false advertisement. Anytime I eat at Burger King I feel so sad — here is a fast-food chain that enjoys legendary status, but where are its fans? What is it known for? Charbroiled burgers? Please.

This sandwich has some good qualities, but they are weighed down by its bad qualities. The BK Crispy Chicken Sandwich is served on a soft and light potato bun, which is good, because each bite never feels too bready, which allows you to focus on the chicken. Unfortunately, that chicken isn’t good. It doesn’t suffer from the spongey quality of some of the lower-tier chickens on this list, but the meat is chunky — flaking off from itself in weird sections as if the breast filet wasn’t cut properly from the bone.

Sure, it’s a weird thing to notice about a sandwich. But the fact that such a thing is noticeable is ironclad proof that it’s bad.

Find the nearest location here.

The Bottom Line

Order a Whopper with cheese.

12. Jack in the Box — Homestyle Ranch Chicken Club/Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Calories: 630

Jack in the Box has a few iterations of their chicken sandwich but it doesn’t get more exciting than the Homestyle Ranch Chicken Club. The chicken here is a bit hit or miss. If it was consistently good we’d bump it up a few spots on flavor alone, but I’ve had Jack in the Box from several establishments in multiple cities (sad to admit) and this sandwich is bad more often than it’s good.

Let’s talk about what’s good. The bun is soft and spongey, the bacon adds a lot of good smokey flavor to an otherwise bland but sufficiently crunchy chicken filet, and it’s all complimented nicely by the Buttermilk Ranch sauce spread on the top bun. Unfortunately, the cheese is a missed opportunity. It tastes like white American to us, never a good combo with chicken, the lettuce is pathetic, which sounds mean but there really is no other way to describe it (maybe wilted?). The chicken breast filets offer a bland blend of black pepper and garlic powder and it often tastes more like grease than it does fried chicken.

Ask for the Homestyle Ranch Chicken Club with the Spicy chicken patty and the sandwich becomes significantly better thanks to a blend of garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and Jack in the Box’s crispy spicy batter.

Find the nearest Jack in the Box here.

The Bottom Line

11. McDonald’s — Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Calories: 530

McDonald’s crispy chicken sandwich comes in three form factors: The Crispy, which consists of little more than a fried chicken filet and thick-cut pickles, the Spicy, which is built the same as the Crispy but features a spicy cayenne pepper spread, and the Deluxe, which ditches the pickles for tomatoes and lettuce. Gun to our head, we’re picking the Spicy every time.

The chicken has a decent and flavorful crispy coating but the texture of the meat is seriously lacking, suffering from the dreaded flakey break-off that a lot of these frozen breast filets suffer from. McDonald’s knocked it out of the park with their cayenne-based pepper sauce — it produces a lingering peppery aftertaste that begs for follow-up bites — but they still haven’t quite nailed a fast-food chicken patty that can hold its own against their biggest competitors.

Find the nearest location here.

The Bottom Line

Grab the spicy, stuff it with some fries and you’re almost at a solid fast-food fried chicken sandwich.

10. Arby’s — Chicken Bacon Swiss Sandwich/Buffalo Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Arby’s has some pretty wild sandwich options to choose from — Smokehouse Brisket, Roast Beef Gyro, f*cking Corned Beef! — making their chicken sandwiches seem tame by comparison. We think it’s safe to say if you’re coming to Arby’s, you don’t want a chicken sandwich, your want a meat pile. You’re at Arby’s baby!

Still, Arby’s has several fried chicken sandwiches to choose from. You can order it with bread, mayo, and tomato (worst option), with crispy Arby’s bacon and Swiss cheese (a good option) or doused in spicy buffalo sauce (an… option) but Arby’s is one of the only fast food locations we’re going to suggest you go ahead and opt for the roasted version of these two sandwiches instead. The flavors work harmoniously in the roast chicken — Arby’s knows how to roast — but the fried options taste like they’re missing something.

These entries aren’t trash, but it’s almost like they exist solely because it’s what the consumer expects.

The Bottom Line

You know the saying, “when in Arby’s stuff yourself with meat until you explode!” Stay focused on those meats, but if you need to order this, consider it functional.

9. Rally’s/Checkers — Classic Mother Cruncher

Calories: 690

Everything about this sandwich is funny. The name, the use of the word “classic” so close to the combination “mother cruncher,” the fact that it uses a signature “squawk sauce” spread on a toasted bun… it’s just ridiculous. In a fun way.

People love Rally’s/Checkers but I just don’t get the hype. This chicken sandwich is merely okay, it has a good crunchy well seasoned breading to it, and the thousand islands-like Squak Sauce is pretty tasty. Still, we can’t see it being anyone’s favorite Rally’s choice.

We suggest you order the chicken bites, which are smaller and more dippable.

Find the nearest Rally’s/Checker’s here.

The Bottom Line

Order it simply to say the words “Give me the Classic Mother Cruncher, please.”

8. KFC — Chicken Sandwich

Calories: 470-540

There really is no excuse for KFC not having a better chicken sandwich. Their first mistake is using a crispy style breading for their breast filet. Use Original Recipe KFC, that’s what you’re known for! Or use thigh meat!

The breast filet just doesn’t taste very good. And it’s hard to understand how KFC could’ve screwed this up.

The Crispy Colonel Sandwich is available in four forms, extra crispy, honey BBQ, Buffalo Hot, and Nashville Hot, each served with pickles and mayo on an unremarkable bun. Our favorite is the Nashville Hot version which is doused in a vinegar heavy Nashville hot chicken sauce. It’s not as spicy as we’d like it to be, but it covers up the flavor of the bland breast filet.

The Bottom Line

Get the Nashville Hot version, but there are plenty of better choices to come.

7. Chick-Fil-A — Spicy Deluxe

Calories: 550

Chick-fil-A has a lot of different versions of their chicken sandwich, but for this list we’re going with the best. Forget the non-spicy version or the grilled bird, at Chick-fil-A, the Spicy Deluxe reigns supreme. The Spicy Deluxe features crinkle cut pickles, a bed of green leaf lettuce, two succulent tomato slices, a spicy breaded chicken breast full of pepper, paprika — and, we want to say cayenne? — topped with pepper jack cheese. The non-spicy deluxe swaps out the chicken for Chick-fil-A’s more bland version and replaces the pepper jack with American cheese which is just offensive.

This is still one of fast food’s best chicken sandwiches but the days of it easily taking the number one spot are thankfully behind us. Chick-fil-A uses peanut oil which helps to give this sandwich a nice crunch but the chicken is just a little too pressed for our liking. It’s incredibly dense and always uneven. If Chick-fil-A went the extra mile and pounded out this chicken before breading it, it would easily bump it up a few spots, but for now, it’s simply good. Not great.

Find the nearest Chick-fil-A here.

The Bottom Line

The baseline by which you should measure all fast-food chicken sandwiches. If it’s not as good as the Spicy Deluxe, it’s probably not worth eating.

6. Raising Cane’s — Chicken Finger Sandwich

Raising Cane’s could have one of the best chicken sandwiches in the game, but they’ve decided that all they make is chicken tenders, and that’s all they’ll ever make. Raising Canes uses fresh never frozen chicken that’s brined in salty lemon water, hand-breaded, and fried to perfection. Their chicken is delicious and juicy and it practically melts in your mouth. But chicken tenders are a stupid way to build a sandwich.

This thing comes served on a toasted bun spread with Cane’s sauce, and as soon as you bite into it the whole thing starts to fall apart because it consists of loose chicken strips. Just make a f*cking chicken filet Raising Canes, please! Why are you getting in your own way like this?

The said part is, this isn’t even the best sandwich at Raising Canes. For a real delicious experience, order two Texas toasts BOB style (buttered on both sides) spread the Cane’s sauce, and stick a tender between it. That right there is a better sandwich and I don’t even work there.

Find your nearest Raising Cane’s here.

The Bottom Line

This feels like a troll. A solid-tasting troll, but still.

5. Wendy’s — Spicy Chicken Sandwich/Asiago Ranch Chicken Club

Calories: 630

All of Wendy’s chicken sandwiches are delicious, but my favorite is the Asiago Ranch Chicken Club, which is served up with Asiago cheese and bacon. When I set out to make this ranking I was ready to give this sandwich the number one spot, it was only after tasting each sandwich that I had to recognize that while this sandwich is good, and is sometimes my favorite, it’s a good distance away from being “the best.”

Wendy’s spicy chicken filet (also available in Homestyle and grilled) has a great flavor, it’s legitimately spicy with a cayenne and black pepper-heavy batter that brings some nice lingering heat into the after taste, but it’s a little over-processed. It’s far from the spongey mystery meat of some of the lesser sandwiches on this list, but it’s noticeably of lower quality than something like what you’d find at Chick-fil-A.

In fact, I go back and forth on whether this is truly better than Chick-fil-A all the time. For now, I think it is.

The Bottom Line

One of the best fast-food chicken sandwiches, but you could still do better.

4. Jollibee — Chicken Sandwich Classic/Deluxe

Calories: 550

Filipino chicken spot Jollibee is seriously underrated. Their unique chicken marinade and batter tastes unlike any other fast-food chicken on the market, it’s this interesting mix of garlic, pepper, salt, onion powder, and… maybe some dried parsley? It’s battered in cornstarch, giving it this crispy airy quality that keeps the chicken crunchy but incredibly juicy inside and we’d really really like to rank it higher.

Still… just tastes like it’s missing a little something. It doesn’t linger in our memories or inspire cravings like the next three.

Find the nearest Jollibee here.

The Bottom Line

Ridiculously delicious and, best of all, this one doesn’t feel like it looked to Popeyes for inspiration. It’s in its own lane.

3. Church’s — Chicken Sandwich

Calories: 360

Clearly inspired by Popeyes chicken sandwich, Church’s chicken sandwich comes incredibly close to the real thing. The sandwich is served up on a brioche bun that is brushed in the same honey-butter Church’s uses on their delicious biscuits, accompanied by your choice of regular or spicy mayo (go for the spicy), thick dill pickle chips, and a juicy hand-breaded filet. The breast filet here is massive and juicy, with a great peppery batter that supplies a lot of crunch without throwing the meat to breading ratio out of whack.

Whether you prefer this to Popeyes is going to come down to which chicken batter you prefer. For some, that’s going to be Church’s, but for me…

Find your nearest Church’s here.

The Bottom Line

Just as good as Popeyes chicken sandwich with half the hype. Could easily be someone’s number 1 pick.

2. Shake Shack — Chick’n Shack

Calories 590

Honestly, between Shake Shack’s Chick’n Shack and our number one pick (which you probably called at the start of this article), it’s a toss-up. Shake Shack has quietly been offering up one of the best fast-food fried chicken sandwiches in the game and they’ve been doing it for years. The Chick n Shack is thick and juicy, with an addictive flakey buttermilk batter that absorbs sauce beautifully and provides a pleasing audible crunch to every bite. Served up with pickles, mayo with herbs, and lettuce on a buttery brioche bun, this sandwich is made even better with the inclusion of Choi’s kimchi and Shake Shack’s gochujang sauce, which is available for a limited time.

I’ve never had a bad chicken sandwich at Shake Shack, they’re remarkably consistent, but it’s hard to make the case for why you should order this over a Double Shack Burger.

Find the nearest Shake Shack here.

The Bottom Line

Delicious, juicy, and crispy, but it’s lacking the decadence of our number one pick.

1. Popeyes — Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Calories: 700

Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich is the predictable number one choice. I promise that I really fought with myself over giving it our number one spot, but pretending otherwise is just kind of silly. There is a reason this chicken sandwich inspired the ridiculous hype that followed its release in 2019. Yes, part of that is due to excellent marketing, it’s not like this is the greatest chicken sandwich in the world (we’re positive we can make a better one, also if Howlin Rays was a chain, it would get the number one spot in a walk) but it is definitely in a class above the rest.

Popeyes also sells a non-spicy version with mayo. It’s good but not great.

It’s not worth robbing a Popeyes over, it’s not something that should be sold on an aftermarket like a coveted pair of sneakers, hell it’s not even worth waiting in line for longer than 20 minutes for, but this is a juicy, crispy, and spicy contribution to the fast-food hall of fame.


Lunchbreak: Air-Fryer Spicy Fried-Chicken Sandwich

Crunchy, juicy, and slicked with mayo, a spicy fried-chicken sandwich is a lunchtime favorite, and using the air fryer means you don’t need to heat up a skillet of oil whenever the craving strikes. For our sandwich to live up to its name, we added heat in three stages. First, we whisked hot sauce into the egg-flour dredging mixture to ensure that the heat would directly coat the chicken rather than get lost in the breading. Combining more hot sauce with mayonnaise for a creamy spread upped the heat level further. An unwritten rule of fried sandwiches states that a pickled element is a must this was our opportunity to add even more heat with fiery sweet pickled jalapeños in lieu of pickle chips. Shredded lettuce provided a crisp, fresh component that tempered the heat a bit. You can use your air fryer to toast the buns see page 410.

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons hot sauce, divided
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt, divided
  • teaspoon plus pinch pepper, divided
  • 2 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 4 hamburger buns, toasted if desired
  • 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
  • ¼ cup jarred sliced jalapeños

1. Toss panko with oil in bowl until evenly coated. Microwave, stirring frequently, until light golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer to shallow dish and set aside to cool slightly. Whisk egg, 2 tablespoons hot sauce, flour, garlic powder, ⅛ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper together in second shallow dish.

2. Pound chicken breasts to uniform thickness. Halve each breast crosswise, pat dry with paper towels, and sprinkle with remaining ⅛ teaspoon salt and remaining pinch pepper. Working with 1 piece of chicken at a time, dredge in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then coat with panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere.

3. Lightly spray base of air-fryer basket with vegetable oil spray. Arrange chicken pieces in prepared basket, spaced evenly apart. Place basket in air fryer and set temperature to 400 degrees. Cook until chicken is crisp and registers 160 degrees, 12 to 16 minutes, flipping and rotating chicken pieces halfway through cooking.

4. Combine mayonnaise and remaining 1 tablespoon hot sauce in small bowl. Spread mayonnaise mixture evenly over bun bottoms, then top each with 1 piece chicken, lettuce, jalapeños, and bun top. Serve.


Mexico's most popular sandwich

On a quiet corner in the Roma neighborhood of Mexico City, the employees at Tortería Los Güeros, a torta restaurant open since 1974, are going through their opening routine. Genaro Aburto, an owner and torta maker, bends downs to drag a plastic tub into view. "Today is the day we make the pickles," he says, nodding at the mass of mottled red and green jalapeños bobbing in water. "We've already got the carrots, onion, and cauliflower cooking."

Aburto is just one among legions of torta makers in the capital, those dedicated to assembling Mexico's most popular sandwich. Though tortas have been eaten for more than a century now, wheat consumption was, at first, fiercely resisted. When the Spanish arrived in the early 1500s carrying wheat, they found an entrenched culture of corn that had been in place for more than 2,000 years. The Spanish created smear campaigns to denigrate corn while proselytizing the purity of wheat when the taste for bread still failed to catch on, they forced indigenous populations to grow and process it. Hundreds of years later, bread has not supplanted the corn tortilla, though it is eaten as sweet pastry in the mornings, served alongside stews for lunch, rolled into tortillas in the north, and used to sandwich cold cuts and proteins in the ubiquitous, pedestrian torta.

There is no single torta origin story, but many — it's a sandwich born of street level commerce and cultural exchange. In 1864, a "torta compuesta" was mentioned in a Pueblan newspaper in 1899, it was referred to in a play and by 1902, there were registered complaints against roving torta vendors, called torteros. The sandwich continued to grow in popularity throughout Mexico City during the early 20th century, taking the form of a common bolillo roll with local ingredients like roast pork, sardines, or chicken sandwiched inside. By the 1950s, tortas had become quick, inexpensive sustenance for urban workers who could no longer return home for the midday meal. In the 1970s, "tortas eléctricas" emerged to distinguish them from the cold-cut torta style.

Today, the torta is wholly, proudly modern Mexican. The sandwich is popular and commonplace, sold at markets, bodega counters, convenience stores, and puestos, the fixed street stands scattered throughout every neighborhood. Tortas are the everyday sandwich of the populace: cheap, filling, and infinitely customizable. Striated like the preserved layers of minerals in bedrock, the combination of ingredients reflects the creativity of their maker.

As with every national dish, regional variations have emerged, becoming emblematic sandwiches in their own right: the hulkish cemitas of Puebla the lonches of the north the pambazos stuffed with potato and chorizo the French-dip-like torta ahogada, literally "drowned" in sauce. There are tortas stuffed with bacalao a la vizcaína, a Basque-style salt-cod stew enjoyed during Lent vegan tortas hawked at punk markets tortas lined with cochinita pibil (citrusy pit-roasted pork) and pickled red onions and tortas piled high with chilaquiles. The varieties on offer at places dedicated to making tortas — called torterías — have also evolved: The "hawaiana" almost always features rings of canned pineapple the "cubana" is not kin to the Cuban sandwich but rather a local invention of ham, roast pork, headcheese, two types of actual cheese, strips of hot dog, and fried breaded cutlets of beef milanesa, so named for its origins on the Calle República de Cuba in downtown Mexico City.

(James Ransom/Courtesy Food52)

If there are so many varieties, what actually defines a torta? First, the bread: a roll made from a simple, salted wheat dough, most commonly a bolillo (also called birote or francés), which are cheap rolls with fluffy interiors and a dry, crunchy cap or a telera roll, which is flatter, softer, and scored twice lengthwise. Fresh bread is key. Tortas are not always toasted, so bread made the day of is common practice. The accoutrements are added to the bread first: a swipe of refried beans, to add richness and moisture mayonnaise, for the same reason avocado, layered on in shingles thin rings of raw white onion tomato, counters with freshness. Lettuce is rare.

Once the vegetables and condiments have paved the way, the proteins arrive. The standard offerings include pierna (thick-cut roast pork leg ringed with scarlet marinade), turkey ham, regular ham, American cheese, queso Oaxaca, panela cheese, fried breaded cutlets of beef or chicken (chopped to bits before being added), and hot dog, more tubular baloney than snappy sausage, cut into thin strips — if you didn't know a hot dog could be filleted, welcome to the school of the torta. Three proteins, or more, are de rigueur.

Another key element is the pickle, to cut the richness: Common picks are rajas, meanings strips of pickled jalapeño with carrot, cauliflower, and onion in tow, or chipotles en adobo, a vinegar-based marinade laced with piloncillo syrup that plumps the dried chiles. Both of these pickles can come from a can, but old-school torta joints often make their own.

The modern torta tends to showboat with macho heft, boasting of layers upon layers of ingredients nevertheless, the more modest varieties have a quiet following as well. Restrained and slim, the bacalao torta, for example, stews the dried fish with onion and tomato, plops a few green olives into the mix, and then slap-spreads the fish paste onto the bread with none of the faffy vegetable additions necessary. In the same vein is the pierna con mole torta from Churrería El Moro, open since 1935, which piles dryish pork leg on a roll and douses it with liquid black mole. That is all. Another classic is the early-morning guajolota torta, which slips a steaming tamale from its corn husk and slides it into a bolillo — the ultimate starch-on-starch sandwich that every Chilango has eaten at least once. No sauce. No vegetables. Just corn and wheat, an edible portmanteau.

Surely, all this talk of tortas has you itching to eat one — and the best news is, you can do so quite seamlessly at home. When you set out to make your own torta, there are a few noteworthy elements to help you achieve success:

(James Ransom/Courtesy Food52)

Most Latin American bakeries will sell both bolillos and teleras, and every supermarket bakery will carry some type of simple, crunchy roll. The bread is key. No sourdough, naturally leavened, seeded bread here and while there is a variety of torta served on industrial, presliced white bread, the crunchy roll is preferred. Split it open, and toast it if you like.

(James Ransom/Courtesy Food52)

2. The spreads, sauces, and condiments.

Refried beans (the legume needs to be on more sandwiches — am I right?!). Mayonesa, always. Avocado also adds moisture. Whatever vegetables you have in the crisper — tomato, shredded cabbage, slivered serrano pepper. A little sliced white onion. Crushed drained pineapple from a can? Go for it.

(James Ransom/Courtesy Food52)

Whatever you fancy, and multiple proteins if you have them: cold cuts, a mix of ham and turkey, scrambled egg, and so on. Got vegan chorizo? It's easy to vegan-ify the torta. Cocktail weenies. Leftover rotisserie chicken. Tinned sardines in tomato sauce. A deep-fried chile relleno. Spam. The possibilities are endless — see below for evidence and a few more ideas.

(James Ransom/Courtesy Food52)

I would say you can leave this off (and really, you can), but cheeses of all kind are the glue to this torta: Melty cheese helps hold things together, and softer cheese can be spread or crumbled for fun textures. Don't forget the cheese sauce I nudged you toward up above. And if you're super queso-crazy, using lots of cheese is a great way to go the vegetarian route. Some of my suggestions aren't super traditional but provide all the necessary, cheesy awesomeness that makes a torta great.

  • Panela, or any of those super-firm cheeses you can grill/cook without melting (like halloumi)
  • Goat cheese
  • Cotija
  • Jack

(James Ransom/Courtesy Food52)

5. The pickles (do not forget the pickles!)

The final topping of a great torta is the pickled bits they bring the essential spice and tang to the mix. Some recipes to start:

    : jalapeños (or any other pepper), onions (my always, always addition #2), nopales, tomatoes.
  • Squeeze of citrus: lime, lemon, or grapefruit.

(James Ransom/Courtesy Food52)

However you lay it on, the best tortas are those made lovingly, with care. Any torta slapped together that falls apart before it reaches your mouth is a bad torta, so build the torta with intent: spread those beans to the edge! Distribute the pickled carrots and peppers evenly. Season each layer of ingredients as you go, then slice and admire the careful striping and structural integrity of the sandwich. The key to a successful torta, according to Aburto, who has been assembling these sandwiches for 46 years, is this: "There are many factors, but first, you have to like what you are doing."


Fried Chicken Sandwiches

In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, shallot, garlic, jalapeño, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Place the chicken breasts between 2 pieces of parchment paper and, with a rolling pin or a meat mallet, pound them until they are evenly ½ inch thick. Slice each piece of chicken in half crosswise so you have 2 pieces approximately the same size. Place the chicken in the marinade, making sure each piece is well coated, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to (but not more than) 24 hours.

When ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Set a wire rack on a sheet pan and place them in the oven.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, celery salt, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and 1½ teaspoons black pepper and set aside.

Pour oil into a medium (9-inch round × 4½-inch high) Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, until it is 2 inches deep. Clip on a candy thermometer and heat the oil over high heat until it reaches 350 degrees. Meanwhile, lift the chicken from the marinade, dredge it in the flour mixture, submerge it again in the marinade, then again in the flour mixture, lightly shaking off the excess. Transfer the chicken to a plate or sheet pan until ready to fry.

When the oil is 350 degrees, carefully lower 3 pieces only into the oil with tongs and adjust the heat to keep the oil at 350 degrees. Don’t crowd the chicken! Cook for 5 minutes, turning once to brown evenly. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to the sheet pan in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Sprinkle all the chicken with salt and keep warm for up to 15 minutes, until ready to serve.

To assemble, place the bottom of each bun on a plate, spread with some of the Buttermilk Herb Mayo, then a lettuce leaf, 4 pickle slices, then a piece of chicken. Spread the underside of the top bun generously with more of the mayo and place on top of the chicken, mayo side down. Serve while the chicken is still warm.

Copyright 2018, Cook Like a Pro, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, All Rights Reserved


Fried Chicken Sandwiches

In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, shallot, garlic, jalapeño, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Place the chicken breasts between 2 pieces of parchment paper and, with a rolling pin or a meat mallet, pound them until they are evenly ½ inch thick. Slice each piece of chicken in half crosswise so you have 2 pieces approximately the same size. Place the chicken in the marinade, making sure each piece is well coated, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to (but not more than) 24 hours.

When ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Set a wire rack on a sheet pan and place them in the oven.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, celery salt, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and 1½ teaspoons black pepper and set aside.

Pour oil into a medium (9-inch round × 4½-inch high) Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, until it is 2 inches deep. Clip on a candy thermometer and heat the oil over high heat until it reaches 350 degrees. Meanwhile, lift the chicken from the marinade, dredge it in the flour mixture, submerge it again in the marinade, then again in the flour mixture, lightly shaking off the excess. Transfer the chicken to a plate or sheet pan until ready to fry.

When the oil is 350 degrees, carefully lower 3 pieces only into the oil with tongs and adjust the heat to keep the oil at 350 degrees. Don’t crowd the chicken! Cook for 5 minutes, turning once to brown evenly. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to the sheet pan in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Sprinkle all the chicken with salt and keep warm for up to 15 minutes, until ready to serve.

To assemble, place the bottom of each bun on a plate, spread with some of the Buttermilk Herb Mayo, then a lettuce leaf, 4 pickle slices, then a piece of chicken. Spread the underside of the top bun generously with more of the mayo and place on top of the chicken, mayo side down. Serve while the chicken is still warm.

Copyright 2018, Cook Like a Pro, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, All Rights Reserved


Preparation

Step 1

Whisk mustard, Worcestershire, garlic, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, and 2 tsp. black pepper in a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, stream in ⅓ cup oil until emulsified. Transfer half of marinade to a small bowl, then whisk in mayonnaise and cornichons (this will be the special sauce). Season mayo dressing with salt set aside.

Step 2

Season chicken thighs with salt and add to medium bowl with remaining marinade. Toss to coat. Let sit at room temperature, tossing occasionally, at least 30 minutes, or chill up to 4 hours.

Step 3

Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Lightly oil grate. Grill chicken, turning once halfway through, until well charred and cooked through, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a platter and let rest 5 minutes. If you have 6 chicken thighs, cut 2 of them in half and use 1½ thighs per sandwich.

Step 4

Grill buns cut side down until lightly charred, about 30 seconds. Transfer to platter with chicken.

Step 5

While chicken rests, coarsely chop fennel fronds. Toss fronds, sliced fennel, basil, red pepper flakes (if using), and remaining 2 tsp. oil and 2 tsp. lemon juice in a medium bowl season with salt and black pepper.

Step 6

Spread reserved mayonnaise dressing on cut sides of each bun. Arrange 1–2 lettuce leaves and sliced tomato on bottom halves. Top each with chicken, then arrange fennel salad over. Close sandwiches with top buns.

How would you rate Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Caesar-ish Dressing?

Omg yummm! Love anything by Molly, but this was especially good! Added some mayo to the fennel slaw, other than that kept it the same. Cannot recommend this recipe enough.

This recipe was easy and AMAZING. A total hit, and the chicken was really flavorful. I’ll definitely be making this again and again now that I’ve found it. Go with the chicken thighs, you won’t be disappointed!

This is the best chicken sandwich I have ever eaten. My wife said it's the best thing I've ever cooked. Every ingredient complements each other perfectly. Total winner. I made one small change. The mayo dressing was too mayonaisy for me so I added a little more lemon, worcestershire sauce and dijon.

Amazing! Simply amazing recipe! No doubt the BEST chicken sandwich EVER. Has become a staple in the dinner line-up and have made multiple times! Simple, easy to follow recipe if you are a beginner in the kitchen and would impress anyone with taste-buds that work! And folks. don't sell the sandwich short with boring chicken breast. give those thighs some LOVE. you won't be disappointed! Much more tender, juicy and flavorful! Thanks for the great recipe Molly!

Oh YUM! This sandwich was fantastic! I used skinless, boneless chicken breast instead of thighs, and put them in the sous vide for a few hours before grilling. The marinade is delicious and would make just a fantastic marinade on its own. I thought it sounded like too many cornichons so I only added half the amount. Sure nough, while eating I thought the sandwich use a bit more acid. So don't be afraid of the pickle! The fennel salad was a nice accompaniment and not strong in flavor at all. Am saying that for all the fennel haters out there. You'll love it - don't worry! I ate the leftover dressing with celery stalks the next day and it was yummy. Will absolutely make again!

These were insanely good. Would 100% make again and not change a dang thing. I made them with chicken breasts because it was all I had on hand, but the thighs is the way to go so you don't have a sando gloriously falling apart in your hands. Either way it's a winner. Thanks, Molly.

It was good but a little salty. I do not think salt needs to be added to each component as the mayo dressing and fennel salad already have flavour therefore I recommend only adding salt to the chicken and nothing else.

I mean just WOW. So good - would make double sauce next time and double chicken because bigger would have been better. But overall its soooo delicious

This Chicken sandwich hits the spot. It does taste ceasar'ish. The Cornichons are awesome in the sauce which making more sauce is a must. Really really good overall.

Simply the best chicken chicken sandwich I’ve ever eaten. Stop looking at Chicken sandwich recipes.. make this one and save it because you will want this again.

My son made this for me for Mother's Day - it was the BEST chicken sandwich I ever ate in my life. The dressing was to die for, and each component was perfect. Just loved this - wouldn't change a thing.

I’ve made this recipe many times - lately indoors on cast iron as it’s a bit too chilly for grilling. We love just making it as a giant salad displayed on a platter, sometimes with fried toast triangles on the side. It’s especially perfect for lunch with guests. Everyone loves it!

These were so incredibly delicious! The mustard-y caesar sauce provided the most amazing tang and the fennel slaw brought so much freshness and crunch. Absolutely loved these sandwiches

Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

This is the tastiest chicken sandwich I've ever had. It's easy to make


Method

Make your pink-pickled onions in advance: at least 2 hours, and up to 24. Put the onion into a jar or bowl and cover with the vinegar (or lime juice), pressing down on the onions. Cover and leave the onions to steep.

Pour the kefir, buttermilk or yoghurt into a small dish and stir in the ½ teaspoon of paprika, ½ teaspoon of salt, lemon juice, mustard, maple syrup and garlic. Add the chicken and turn to coat in the marinade. Cover the dish, then leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days. (If you simply cannot wait that long, leave the chicken out on the kitchen counter for 20–40 minutes.)

Take the chicken out of the fridge in good time to get to room temperature before you start to cook it.

Mix the flour with the remaining ¼ teaspoon each of paprika and salt in a shallow dish. Lift the chicken out of the marinade, but don’t try and shake it off. Dredge both sides of the chicken in the seasoned flour, then dip briefly back into the marinade and dredge again. This double-dredging is essential to get a thick, shaggy coating. You can leave the coated chicken in the flour dish until you fry.

Mix the garlic mayonnaise with the chilli oil and honey, and spread over both sides of a split burger bun (or a couple of slices of bread). Put a plate lined with kitchen paper by (but not dangerously near) the hob, if you want to get rid of any excess fat once the chicken’s cooked.

Pour enough oil into a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan to come about 3½cm/1⅓in up the sides. Heat until a small piece of bread becomes golden and crisp almost instantly if you have a food thermometer, you want the fat to be at 190°C when the chicken goes in. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.) Using tongs, gently lower the chicken into the hot oil, and cook for 3–4 minutes on each side, until the coating is deep gold and very crisp and the chicken is completely cooked through. Drain on the paper-lined plate and leave to stand (for a couple of minutes) while you shred some iceberg lettuce and get out your pickles.

Put a handful of lettuce on the mayo on the bottom of the bun, top with the fried chicken, add kimchi and pink-pickled onions, scatter with a bit more lettuce and squidge on the top of the bun. Go in cautiously: I have more than once burned my mouth.

Recipe Tips

For the pink-pickled onions, use a whole onion if you prefer, as you will find yourself adding them to much else. Chinese crispy chilli oil is a staple in my kitchen but really, any chilli component works along with the mayonnaise if using a sweeter sauce though omit the honey.


British Sandwich Week: Five unusual sarnies to perk up your WFH lunch

s there a better way to celebrate British Sandwich Week than to plan to eat a sandwich every day for the rest of the week? We don’t think so.

The sandwich is an incredible invention, made better by the fact you can put just about anything between two slices of bread and no matter which way you slice it, it will be satisfying. Rushing somewhere? Sandwich on the go. Got a whole afternoon to waste? Think about how you can create your personal masterpiece.

As a creative outlet, sandwiches are an excellent sandbox for testing new flavour and texture combinations and inventing new ways to use up leftovers. Sometimes that means getting a little weird, but that’s okay. We’re not judging.

To get you started, we’ve rounded up five unusual sandwich combinations from top chefs and food writers you can try at home to make WFH lunches more exciting.

Leftover Sunday lunch sarnie

Recommended

Created by Max Halley of Max’s Sandwich Shop, this is a Sunday lunch sandwich with all the trimmings, and the extra-crunchy addition of Walkers Marmite crisps.

This sandwich uses leftover roast chicken roast potatoes stuffing balls cooked carrots half a raw onion horseradish sauce mayonnaise juice of half a lemon gravy a mini ciabatta and crushed Marmite crisps.

Our biggest question is: How does he fit all of this into a sandwich? The secret appears to be in mashing the potatoes, stuffing and carrots together to make patties, like bubble-and-squeak.

You can find the recipe and instructions here.

Monster Munch sandwich

This recipe comes courtesy of Andy Canter, from cooking blog Cooked Best, and starts with the phrase: “Please don’t judge me…”

He told The Independent: “First, you are going to want to get some soft white bread, none of the fancy sourdough stuff. You are going to want to butter both sides with copious amounts of butter, edge to edge. Leave no crumb unbuttered.

“Here is when we go off-piste a little. Grab yourself a packet of Pickled Onion flavour Monster Munch and smash the hell out of it until you are left with a breadcrumb like consistency.

“Mix the ground-up Monster Munch with Philadelphia full-fat cream cheese until completely combined. Season with some pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

“Spread the mixture onto one slice of bread - use it all. Leave no Munch behind. Then chop thin slices of apple and layer them on top of the Munch mixture for a hit of health and freshness. Whack on the other side of the bread and away you go.”

We did say “unusual combinations”…

Caramelised tofu, antipasti and pesto open sandwich

This tofu sandwich recipe from Hortense Julienne, founder of snack company Miss Nang Treats, is just the ticket to get more plant-based food into your day.

Blend fresh basil, garlic, silken tofu, walnuts, walnut oil, salt and pepper into a paste for the pesto and set aside.

Then cut a block of smoked tofu into 1cm-thick sticks, like fries, and sprinkle with salt, thyme and pepper. Put some brown sugar into a frying pan to melt and caramelise before adding the tofu sticks, turning to make sure the caramel covers each stick. Cook till crispy for one minute on each side.

Julienne suggests using pre-cooked mini baguette rolls for this recipe, but freshly toasted white bread slices will work just as well. After baking the rolls leave to cool for five minutes before slicing them in half lengthways. Then spread a generous amount of pesto on the bread and layer with coriander, beetroot, sweet pepper and the caramelised tofu sticks.

Find the full recipe with quantities and more detailed instructions here.

Buttery mashed potato sandwich

This recipe is inspired by the grandmother of Simon Hulstone, chef owner of Michelin-starred restaurant The Elephant in Torquay. She would leave slices of white bread on the table and anything leftover from Sunday lunch went into the bread, he told The Independent.

As a child, Mr Hulstone only ever had Smash instant mashed potatoes, but this can be replaced with any leftover mashed potatoes that are reheated. This sandwich also definitely breaks the rules around requiring crunch in sandwiches - but then, rules are made to be broken!

Make up a packet of Smash as per the packet instructions and season well, and heat up any leftover gravy you might have laying around.

Generously butter two slices of fresh, soft white bread. Dollop a couple of spoons of the Smash (or mashed potato) between the bread and enjoy.

Corned beef and cheese sandwich

This recipe by Luke Tipping, chef director at Simpsons restaurant in Edgbaston, is excellent for using cupboard and fridge staples.

“This combination works best on slices of fresh, multi-grain bread and a hard cheese such as cheddar or Gruyere,” Mr Tipping told The Independent.

Butter each slice of bread, then slice the corned beef and cheese. Place the corned beef on the sandwich and follow with the cheese slices.

To really bring out the flavour, smother the inside of the sandwich with brown sauce. “To take it to another level pop it into a Breville or Toastie Machine for a few minutes but make sure that you let it cool a little before eating as the brown sauce will be hot!”


Sandwich recipes

Ah, the sandwich. Once considered a bland but reliable lunch staple, sandwiches have enjoyed a recent resurgence in popularity thanks to the ever increasing number of cafés and sandwich shops competing to outdo one another with the quality and creativity of their products. Indeed, the sandwich is a canvas on which one can be endlessly creative - meats, cheese, salad sauces, bread type. not to mention the decision between serving it hot or cold.

This varied collection of sandwich recipes should provide plenty of inspiration for livening up your lunch. Nathan Outlaw's Bacon and egg club sandwich recipe is a triple layered, cheese filled treat not for the faint hearted, while Oliver Denton's Pulled beef rolls are equally packed with filling and flavour. At the daintier end of the spectrum Helen Graves shares a recipe for Cucumber sandwiches, the perfect light savoury bite to accompany an afternoon tea, and her ultimate Egg mayonnaise sandwich recipe puts the definitive spin on this well loved classic.