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~ Batter-Dipped Buffalo Chicken & Blue Cheese Subs ~

IMG_3589In case you haven't noticed, I have my own way of going about all things culinary.  I'm not apprehensive about experimenting within reason, am not afraid of failure, although I hate it when it happens, and, I'm more than willing to play around with a recipe until I get it exactly where I want it to be.  Yes, I'm picky like that.  I'm not big into dieting, never have been and never needed to, but, I refuse to swallow one calorie unless it represents scrumptious taste and pleasurable texture.  In the case of my version of the all-too-often greasy-soggy-mess of an ill-conceived buffalo chicken sub, the end definitely justifies the means, and everything in between.

Batter-dipped & deep-dried vs. grilled chicken strips.

IMG_3110While classic chicken wings get deep-fried, they don't get batter dipped because they've got skin on them, and, it's when that crispy, deep-fried skin gets enrobed in the spicy sauce that the magic happens. Unfortunately, the only way the magic can be enjoyed is to strip it from the flavorful bones using ones teeth, making it remarkably impolite and totally in bad taste (the horror) to transition the actual chicken wing meat to any version of a buffalo-wing-meat sandwich.  Sigh.

IMG_3429Batter-dipping and deep-frying boneless, skinless strips of chicken breast (thigh meat is too greasy), to give them a crispy crust, is a great way to mimic the the crispy skin. Time consuming? Start to finish, batter-dipping and deep-frying a batch of chicken strips (enough for one sandwich) takes about 9-10 total minutes, and, deep-frying a batch of chicken wings (enough for one serving) takes 13-14, so, aside from a little extra mess (three dishes to wash), it's a wash.

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2853276970cYes, grilling a boneless, skinless piece of chicken breast or thigh (thighs work fine on the grill), cutting the grillmarked chicken into thin strips and tossing it with some wing sauce is an option -- plenty of restaurants and home cooks do it all the time.  It is indeed tasty (not ideal, but tasty), so, feel free to substitute grilled in place of the batter-dipped, deep-fried chicken used in my recipe.  Texturally, you know your palate will obviously be missing the crunch, and if your ok with that, you have my blessing.

Decided to fry?  Set up an assembly line (left to right): 

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4a16a94200dNine chicken tenders, 1 1/2 per sandwich, sliced into short 1/2"-wide strips .

One 8" x 8" x 2" dish containing 2 cups dry pancake mix.

One loaf-pan containing 2 1/2 cups pancake mix whisked with 22 ounces beer (Note:  Beer lends wonderful flavor with yeasty undertones to the breading.  That said, if I can't convince you that the heat of the deep-fryer will evaporate all the alcohol, feel free to substitute club soda.)

One 8" x 8" x 2" dish containing 1, 8-ounces box panko breadcrumbs.

Deep-fryer w/corn or peanut oil heated to 375° according to manufacturer's specifications.

Misc:  forks, 3-minute timer, wire cooling rack, paper towels, sea salt grinder.

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4c615ae200b~ Step 1.  When everything is measured and in place, whisk together the pancake mix and beer (or club soda). Set aside for about 5 minutes before starting the frying process. This will give the batter time to thicken a bit, to a drizzly consistency.  If at any point during the frying process (even at the outset) if the batter seems or gets too thick, whisk in a little more beer (or club soda) to maintain a VERY drizzly consistency.

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4c615fd200b~ Step 2.  This step is actually optional, so skip it if you like.  When it comes to chicken cutlets, I prefer the texture of my panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs) to be less coarse.  To make that happen:

Place panko in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Using a series of 50-60 rapid on-off pulses, process these super-crispy breadcrumbs to finer crumbs.

IMG_3404 IMG_3404 IMG_3404 IMG_3404 IMG_3412 IMG_3412~Step 1.  Working in batches of 2 tenders at a time, slice and dredge the strips in the dry pancake mix to lightly-coat the pieces on all sides. Note:  I fry 2 at a time because that is what fits comfortably in the basket of my fryer without overcrowding it.  Gather up the dredged strips and pile them on a large slotted spatula.  Move up the assembly line, and, lower the spatula of tenders into the batter and swish them around a bit. Lift the spatula full of the strips out of the batter and hold it over the bowl for a second or two, to allow the batter to drizzle back into the bowl.  Move up the assembly line and use your fingertip to drop the chicken strips into the panko.  Return to the bowl of batter with the spatula to retrieve any strips you might have missed.  Using a fork, toss/dredge all of the strips in the panko.

IMG_3420 IMG_3420 IMG_3420 IMG_3420~Step 2.  Two-four at a time, using your fingertips, carefully drop the breaded strips down into the 375° oil and into the fryer basket.  Close the lid and allow tenders to deep-fry for 3-3 1/2 minutes. Tenders will be a beautiful golden brown and just cooked through.  Do not overcook.

IMG_3439Step 3.  Open fryer lid and slowly lift basket up and out of deep-fryer. Transfer tender strips to a wire rack in a baking pan that has been lined with paper towels.  Tip:  To transfer the strips, simply tilt the basket onto its side directly over the rack.  Using tongs is a mistake -- it's an easy way to damage their crust.  Once out of the fryer, immediately sprinkle strips with freshly ground sea salt and repeat process until all tenders are dipped and deep-fried.

Assembling the buffalo chicken & blue cheese subs.

IMG_3564For 4, 6"-6 1/2" Buffalo chicken sub sandwiches (listed in order of assembly):

4, 6"-6 1/2" high-quality submarine/hoagie-type rolls, your favorite brand

12-16  soft Boston or bibb lettuce leaves

IMG_30952-2 1/2 cups my recipe for My RedHot-Ranch Slaw, prepared several hours or a day before deep-frying the chicken (Stir together: 8 cups/16-ounces store-bought coleslaw mix, 1 cup peeled and very thin-sliced carrots, 1 cup very-thin sliced celery, 3/4 cup Hidden Valley ranch dressing*, 1/4 cup Frank's RedHot wing sauce.  Refrigerate overnight.)

* Note:  Any high-quality creamy blue cheese dressing may be substituted in place of the Ranch.

1-1 1/2 cups blue cheese crumbles, 1-1 1/4 cups for topping sandwiches and 1/4 cup for garnishing sandwiches 

all the batter-dipped and deep-fried chicken strips, from above recipe (hot out the deep fryer, warm, or, at room temperature, your choice

Hidden Valley Ranch dressing, for drizzling on sandwiches

Frank's RedHot Wing Sauce, for drizzling on sandwiches

IMG_3569 IMG_3569 IMG_3569 IMG_3569 IMG_3569~Step 1.  To assemble the sandwiches, use a serrated bread knife to slice the rolls, placing each one on a plate as you work.  Arrange 3-4 soft Bibb lettuce leaves on each sandwich, to generously cover and protect the soft bread on the inside of each sandwich from the creamy coleslaw that will come next.  Place a generous but judicious layer of the slaw along the bottom of the sandwich -- being aware that this slaw is quite spicy.  Sprinkle a few blue cheese crumbles atop the slaw.  Stuff the sandwich with as many tender strips as it can handle, and, don't be shy about gently pressing them down into the bottom as you work -- the more the merrier. Garnish the top with a few more of the salty blue cheese crumbles.  Drizzle with a bit of the Ranch dressing followed by a drizzle of the RedHot wing sauce.  Serve immediately.

A few tender lettuce leaves, creamy-crunchy-spicy 'slaw, super-crispy chicken, blue cheese crumbles + a drizzle of sauce: 

IMG_3595Batter-Dipped Buffalo Chicken & Blue Cheese Subs:  Recipe yields 4 hearty and hot, warm or room temperature Buffalo chicken sub sandwiches.

Special Equipment List: 2, 8" x 8" x 2" baking dishes; medium mixing bowl; large slotted spatula; tongs; deep-fryer; wire cooling rack; paper towels; cutting board; vegetable peeler; chef's knife; serrated bread knife

6a0120a8551282970b01bb0945149d970d 6a0120a8551282970b01b8d22e5f8e970cCook's Note: Buffalo-style chicken recipes, served in any number of ways are 100% always a crowd pleaser -- they're kid-friendly too.  If it's Buffalo-style pub grub your looking for, I recommend you try ~ My Spicy Baked Blue-Cheese Buffalo-Style Chicken Dip ~, or, ~ My Spicy Blue-Cheesy & Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas ~.  

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


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