Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Tale of Two Chicken Sandwiches - Restaurant Quality

It was the best of times... It was the worst of times.

Well, not really.  Just the best of times.  Which brings up (for a second time this week) Mr. Dickens and his wonderful book.  More and more, I understand George Bernard Shaw when he said, "Youth is wasted on the young.".  When I was young, I was "forced" to read "A Tail of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens.  I was also "forced" to analyse word by word Mr. Dickens famous opening paragraph.  I hated that assignment.  Until I read the book.  It started me on a love of Mr. Dickens that lasts to this day.  Seems silly to even say this, but, Mr. Dickens - What a way with words he had!
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
That last line really has stayed with me for the last 40 plus years.  "In the superlative degree of comparison only".  I'll be honest, unless I get it on tape for my daily walk, I will probably never read the Tale again.  And that's a little sad.  Great literature is "forced" on our youth.  And that is the best of times to do that.  BUT, it is the worst of times as well.  But ever since Mr. Kirk back in Pekin, Illinois 40 plus years ago "forced" me to think of superlative comparisons, I just can't stop.  If I had it to do over again, i would call my blog either "2 Ways 2 Cook", or "Superlative Comparisons".

Ah well, I am digressing.  The reason I bring this up, is for the "superlative degree of comparison" that two chicken sandwiches provide.  If you are going to make them, if you plan on blogging about them, make them superlative.  What I like to call Restaurant Quality.  

Start with bread.  As usual, this week, I made a loaf of Eng Bread.  My own version of a sweet French Bread.  This time, I made it a larger bowl shape instead of the usual torpedo shaped loafs.

My Chicken came from it's usual source.  Actually, it came from my usual underpriced grocery store.  $4.99 for a rotisserie chicken.  Wonderfully seasoned, fully cooked and sitting near the poultry section of the meat aisle where whole uncooked chickens are $6 or $7.  I will never understand that, but I will take advantage of it.

BTW, when you buy a rotisserie chicken, be sure and save the carcass.  Once you have the bones and a little flesh, can stock be far behind, and once you have stock, can soup be far behind (Crab corn bisque this week, but that's a post for another day!).  But I am digressing again (come to think of it, maybe that would be a truer title to my blog)...

I sliced all the chicken from the bird.  I wanted to make a batch of chicken salad for Jackie's lunches.  I am going to be completely honest.  I have yet to eat a better chicken salad than mine.  Filled with extras, Sweet Onions, Grapes, Granny Smith Apples, Gherkin Pickles (dice the pickles, much better than putting pickle relish in the salad).  But for this, I made a substitute from the usual mayonnaise.  For this, I added Greek yogurt.  Jackie requested something a little lighter than the usual.  Switching out the mayo for the yogurt was logical and WONDERFUL!  I found a vanilla flavored Greek yogurt.  Just that little extra made a big difference

3 cups diced Chicken (mostly breast meat)
3/4 cup Grapes cut in half
3/4 cup Granny Smith Apples, diced
3/4 cup Sweet Onion, diced
3/4 cup Gherkin Pickles, Diced
If you like, add some Cilantro and Paprika for color and a little extra zing

And mix everything together.  I am more  than willing to make that superlative comparison with anyone elses' chicken salad recipe.  Even more, I would certainly stack this recipe up with any restaurant sandwich shops' chicken Salad!

And sandwich number 2 is an open face chicken sandwich topped with a Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, Provolone Cheese and run under a broiler for just a few minutes to get the cheese bubbly, golden brown and delicious.

Only thing that needs the recipe is the pesto...

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Sundried tomatoes, packed in oil (comes in a jar)
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cups finely chopped Walnuts
4 clove Garlic, smashed and minced

One final note on this.  unlike the chicken salad that has LOTS of flavors and ingredients, this sandwich needs the best parts of the bird.  The Thigh Meat!  Whenever I get a rotisserie chicken, i always save the thigh meat for sandwiches (or just nibble myself while I trim the bird).

So, there you go.  Go ahead and make your own "Superlative Comparisons" of my 2 Ways 2 cook a chicken sandwich.

And BTW, the inspiration for this post came from an exchange I had with fellow blogger, Emily Z from EZRecipes.  We were sharing budget goals for the new year.  I dropped her a comment which is  this week's tip for Empty Nester Cooks...
Cooking for Empty Nester's Tip #3
Next tip is leftovers. Get creative, make mashed potatoes, but the next night use the leftovers to make a shepherd’s pie. They are new dishes, but the difference in cost to make a double batch of mashed potatoes is almost nothing. My tip is to make larger batches planning on leftovers, but then get creative to make a completely different dish (Pizza is a great way to make left overs different)...   
OR get creative when planning to make chicken sandwiches a couple days in a row.
 And finally, My buddy BIZ from My Bizzy Kitchen is hosting BSI (Blogger Secret Ingredient) this week.  The secret ingredient is yogurt, so I am submitting my Chicken Salad recipe.  If you want to play along and submit a yogurt recipe (for fun and profit (winning recipe gets a prize!), click HERE for the rules.


  1. Thanks for your recipes Dave! My husband loves chicken salad, and because I don't I hardly ever make them. But I don't like mayo - so here I come with the Greek yogurt (sans onions of course!)

    Thanks for your BSI submission! :D

  2. If you get duplicate comments, I apologize... my internet has been up and down the last 2 days, down much more than up, and it went down again when I submitted my first comment. ANYWAY, thank you for the shoutout! I am going to make this quick and post this before my internet crashes again! AUGH!

  3. Looks splendid and delish Dave! I just made chicken sandwiches the other day. Yours looks juicy and loaded with great flavor!
    Cheers, Catherine

  4. I gotta get on this eng bread train. It looks amazing!

  5. You make your chicken salad almost identical to my recipe. Love the grapes. Ina makes a wonderful mustard chicken salad that I keep for an alternative. Great looking sandwiches Dave.

  6. The sandwich gotta have it drooling!!!. And using the leftover from roasted chicken is great way of making stocks. And i have noticed that that soups have lot more flavor that way.