Chicken can be awful, and often is. Insane chefs, well-meaning friends and your Aunt Maureen (who has never figured out that her oven runs a hundred degrees hotter than her range’s knobs indicate) take a bird and bury its many charms under insipid sauces or grill them as if the meat was impregnated with ebola.
Who’d’ve thunk, in the early 80s, that a centuries-old cooking technique would come and rescue the chicken dinner for a busy, harried America?
I don’t remember exactly when I started seeing hot, juicy and fragrant rotisserie chickens in the supermarkets (with the oven heaving invisible clouds of aerosolized rosemary and chicken fat into the produce section), but I have a childhood memory of Mom driving my brother and me home, all the while us two in the backseat picking at our family’s first store-bought bird. There wasn’t much left for my poor Dad once we pulled into the driveway.
If you’re not in the mood for a sit-down chicken-and-sides dinner, however, but still want a savory rotisserie fix, consider my buddy Weeble’s chicken sandwich recipe (modified slightly here). It is brilliant in its simplicity, makes a shitton of food, and is delicious. You can even employ some of the leftover arugula from yesterday’s recipe if you like. And don’t forget the roast potatoes if you can help it.
Weeble’s Chicken Sandwich
- 1 rotisserie chicken (whatever herbed style your store has will do)
- 4 long sandwich rolls (medium to large ones – it doesn’t matter what kind, either – just make sure they’re crusty – if you can find Bahn Mi rolls, EVEN BETTER.)
- 4 to 8 oz shredded parmesan cheese or slices of muenster
- chipotle mustard (which you can buy in the store or make yourself with a jar of dijon mustard and a can of chipotle peppers – throw a quantity of mustard, the adobo sauce the peppers are packed in, and a few of the peppers, chopped up, into a food processor. If, after a few pulses, it’s not zesty enough for you, hit it with a spalsh of vinegar – preferably malt – and pulse some more.)
- 5 oz arugula
- 8 to 12 cloves of garlic
- olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400.
- Put the garlic and a few generous tablespoons of olive oil in a small oven-proof dish. Toss to coat, and bake for 30 minutes.
- Place the chicken in a large work bowl and remove the flesh from the carcass. If you’ve never done this sort of thing before to a whole chicken, you’ll find the process is quicker than you think, especially if you’re working with a warm bird. Don’t think about it too hard – wear some gloves if you’re squeamish – and be thorough. Remove the bones as you go. After you’ve pulled off the meat (chopping up or pulling apart some of the larger pieces – and if you’re like me, the skin, too…hells yes), mix the dark stuff, the white stuff and the skin together in the bowl so everything is evenly distributed. If your bird is fresh, it should be plenty juicy, but if not (or just for the hell of it) throw in a few tablespoons of melted butter (salted, please.)
- Split your sandwich rolls lengthwise and scoop out some of the bread inside. (if you like, throw the rolls on a sheet pan and lightly toast in the oven for the last few minutes of garlic-time.)
- Remove garlic-oil mixture from oven and either smush together with a fork or give it a quick pulse or three in the processor. Spread on the top half of the bread. Slather a portion of the chipotle mustard on the bottom half.
- Distribute the chicken equally among the rolls. If serving right away, make sure to spoon a little of the juices from the bottom of the bowl over the top of the meat once placed. If you’re making sandwiches for later, you may wanna give the chicken meat a little squeeze before placing it on the rolls to prevent sogginess.
- Top with cheese, and then arugula, and then, obviously, the top half of the roll.
Serve with potatoes and a smug look on your face.
Additional tip: if you’re serving this right away – you could avoid the toasting step mentioned previously, assemble the sandwich to the cheese stage and stick both halves under the broiler for a few minutes for melty goodness.
Many thanks to the Weeble.