This may or may not be the last recipe post you'll see which makes use of the cole slaw leftovers I had from my Food Lab recipe testing (see Hot Slaw Dogs and Pork Roll Rachel Sandwiches for some previous recipes) but it was one of the most rapidly consumed. The combination of hot, crisp, juicy, seasoned chicken with cool, crunchy, cream cole slaw in a warm buttered bun might not be unbeatable, but if there were ever a sandwich-based UFC, it'd earn a top seed.
Here's how I make mine.
The first step is really good fried chicken. There are a few keys to getting this right, but brining is one of them. My chicken spends a night in either a salt and sugar brine, or alternatively in a jar of kosher dill pickle juice, which performs the same function: it keeps the chicken moist as it fried. For extra juiciness and flavor, I use boneless skinless thighs instead of breast meat. After all, this is a fried chicken sandwich. It ain't exactly health food to begin with.
Next, I dip my chicken in a buttermilk and egg solution seasoned with black pepper and paprika before dipping it into a flour mixture with the same seasonings.
To get extra nooks, crannies, and craggly crispy bits, I make sure to drizzle a bit of the batter into the flour and mix it up with my fingertips before adding the chicken and pressing it firmly to get all those bits to adhere.
Letting it rest for 10 minutes or so before frying will help to ensure that the coating sticks to the chicken as it fries. It'll also get the coating a little crisper as the flour hydrates and gluten begins forming (do not let it rest more than ten minutes or it'll get too tough as it fries).
See what happens when you carefully fry that chicken in hot peanut oil? Glorious, isn't it?
All that's left is to toast a few soft buns (I use Martin's Potato Rolls) in butter, then assemble the sandwiches.
Cole slaw on the bottom, of course.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.