In the Palmer house, we like to do things from scratch. Sometimes we even go so far as to make the contraption that makes the food (thank you, Alton Brown). But I would say our current favorite food-past time is eating a dish at a restaurant and saying, “I bet we could make a better version of this at home” and then going home and trying it out. One of our favorite restaurants here in town is Crafthouse Gastropub. They always have good brews on tap and they have a creative menu and generally execute things pretty well. Matt was really excited to try their buffalo chicken sandwich and had been anticipating it for a long time, but it fell kinda short when we finally had it. Maybe it was because we had this idea in our heads of what it would be and it wasn’t that way – sometimes you can really cheat a restaurant by doing this. The slaw was really wet and ran down his arm and pooled onto the plate. The chicken wasn’t “buffalo” enough and was also too big, so it was really hard to eat. It was a good enough sandwich for what it was, but we said then and there that we’d try this one at home.
So we did. And it was tremendous. We used the recipe for the fried chicken sandwich from Serious Eats and I think they really have a perfect process. Using chicken thighs instead of the breast makes for a smaller patty and a more flavorful one, and it’s easier to eat. We used our very favorite buffalo sauce and Matt thickened it with a bit of roux and it worked perfectly. We didn’t want the drippy situation and making the sauce thicker like buffalo gravy – if you will – was the right move. Matt found a slaw recipe online from a girl who really knows her stuff, Carla Hall from Top Chef, that had celery and blue cheese. What is more perfect with buffalo chicken than blue cheese and celery? Then, we totally cheated and bought a nice jar of ranch dressing and mixed in some chunky blue cheese crumbles for the sauce. And to finish everything off, Matt made outrageous potato rolls for the buns. It was, by every definition, the perfect chicken sandwich. Right size, right proportions, right flavor – right on.
I’ll post our thickened buffalo sauce recipe below, as well as Matt’s potato rolls. There’s a lot of components to this sandwich, but you can improvise on pretty much all of it if you want. I’d highly recommend keeping the fried chicken thigh the same, though. I can’t imagine how to improve it.
The Perfect Buffalo Sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons Frank’s hot sauce
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Mix all the ingredients together in a medium saucepan over low to medium heat until well combined and heated through. To thicken, like we did for our sandwiches, take two tablespoons of unsalted softened butter in a small dish and add about two tablespoons of flour to form into a paste (an uncooked roux). Throw this little ball of buttery flour into your buffalo sauce and whisk until fully incorporated and thickened. We dunked each crispy chicken patty into the buffalo sauce before assembling our sandwiches.
makes 8 sandwich-sized buns
- 1 russet potato (big enough to make 1/2 cup mashed potato), peeled and chopped
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tbsp. honey or agave nectar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup milk, warmed
- 1 1/8 tsp. instant yeast
- 1/4 cup reserved potato water
- 2 1/2 – 3 cups bread flour
- 2 tbs salted butter, melted, for brushing the buns
Boil potato until tender. Drain cooking water, reserving 1/4 cup for use in the rolls. Finely mash the potato and measure out 1/2 cup. Let cool to nearly room temperature.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the mashed potato, butter, honey, salt and egg. Mix together on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Combine the yeast with the warm milk and reserved potato water, and pour into the mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Gradually add the flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough forms. Switch to the dough hook attachment on knead on low speed for 5 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to achieve a soft dough that is slightly tacky but not sticky. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 60-90 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn the down out onto a lightly floured surface and punch it down. Separate into 8 equal pieces and shape into buns. Place the buns on the prepared baking sheet, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Brush each bun with melted butter. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise again until the rolls have grown into each other, about 30-45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, until golden. We started checking the buns for doneness around 12 minutes. Serve warm.
*recipe adapted from Annies-Eats where we made bigger rolls, left out the sugar and brushed with butter instead of dusting with flour to make extra soft buns.