Sandwich Surprise: The Florida Edition! Blue Chip-Crusted Chicken Cutlets on Bacon Bits Bread
This week’s Sunshine State sammy:
Why the road trip? While I was on a beach/golf vacation in Ft. Lauderdale last week, I just couldn’t pass up the chance to take a Florida’s Turnpike road trip to my friend Michelle and her family’s home near Orlando. I worked with cover-writer-extraordinaire Michelle when I was an editor at People, and she, her husband Chris, and their four kids, ages 10 and under — Vic, Lou, Frank and Tillie — are definitely among the World’s Most Awesomest.
The challenge: Could I come up with something kid-friendly, crave-worthy and inexpensive?
I had to nail the bread. That way, even if the filling sucked, at least the kids would have something to eat. I briefly considered chocolate-chip bread, but most of the savory food that pairs well with chocolate requires a decent amount of cooking, and I needed something easy to make.
“Bacon bits bread” kept rattling around in my head. Because everything is better with bacon! (I’m looking at you, 365 Days of Bacon … )
The filling stumped me for a while. I was stuck on doing some sort of deviled Easter Egg thing, but the various egg salads I tried to concoct were pretty lame — even the ones I made with honey mustard, which I used to think could save anything it’s on. I was going to resign myself to okayfine, until Brant reminded me that my blog isn’t Sandwich Meh.
Then I remembered that I loved chicken cutlet sandwiches as a kid. It was getting down to the wire, so I resorted to Google and found a five-star Paula Deen chicken nugget recipe on Food Network. With honey mustard, no less!
I know I’m not the first to say it, but I may be the last to realize it: Paula Deen is a genius! Her spin on nuggets really helped elevate this sandwich.
The differences here are that I used Terra Blue potato chips and Kettle Sea Salt and Vinegar potato chips in a 3-to-1 ratio instead of the sour cream and onion ones she suggests. (I can’t stand sour cream and onion potato chips.) Also, I didn’t cut the chicken breasts into 1.5-inch nuggets.
BLUE AND VINEGAR POTATO CHIP-CRUSTED CHICKEN FILETS
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
3 c. Terra Blues Potato Chips, crushed
1 c. Kettle Sea Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips, crushed
1/4 c. milk
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
Optional: Honey mustard
Cost: About $16 at Publix in Florida for enough sandwiches to feed 3 adults and 4 kids 10 and under until they’re full, with plenty of leftovers. The price goes up about 75 cents more if you put honey mustard on the sandwich.
If you decide to bake Bacon Bits Bread, it costs about $6.69 to make enough slider-sized buns to feed the same amount of people above. The master boule recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day is perfect; just mix in most of the bacon bits with the dry flour and salt before adding to the yeast water.
The bread is super easy to make — I did it in the kitchenette at the Hilton on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale, and then let it rise in the car while I drove about 3.5 hours north. (Of course, I kinda slowed the whole rising process with the AC on, but the hour it stayed in the car — which was parked in direct Florida sun — while I shopped made it rise perfectly.)
But if you buy the bread, I’d go with slider rolls and add the bacon bits to the crushed potato chip mix for the chicken filet coating.
Preheat the oven to 350˚.
Beat the eggs with the milk in a medium-sized bowl. Then mix the crushed potato chips in a separate medium-sized bowl. I first crushed the chips in their bags before measuring them into the bowl, and then used a potato masher to pulverize them further.
Cut each breast into 2 or 3 slider bun sized portions, and then slice each of those pieces equatorially (if that’s even the right way to phrase it) into 2 or 3 separate filets 1/2-inch thick. This ensures that they stay moist and cook as quickly as Paula’s recipe dictates — a mere 18 minutes!
Coat each cutlet with the egg mix on both sides, letting any excess liquid drip back into the egg bowl. Then dredge each cutlet in the crushed chips on both sides. I pressed as many chips onto all of the cutlets as I could so there’d be a good crunch to them in the sammies.
Lay them in a roasting pan, then drizzle the melted butter evenly across all the cutlets.
Bake for 18 minutes. Don’t let them overbake, or they’ll get dry.
Slice the slider rolls. Layer a leaf or two of lettuce and then spread honey mustard on top of that, for those who want a green crunch and a sweet, tangy flavor to offset the butter and potato chips.
FYI, all of the kids wanted the baked cutlets plain on the bacon bits bread:
And here’s Michelle with the lettuce and honey mustard version:
I admit, I held my breath as the kiddies bit into their sammies. But yay, the Sandwich Surprise got a collective “Mmmmm!” from them all!
“I liked everything!” said Lou.
“It’s really good,” said Vic. “I like the bread with the bacon, and the blue potato chips on the chicken give it crunch.” Was there anything he didn’t like about it? “No,” he said, then paused thoughtfully. “My one objection is that there was too much flour on the bread.”
“Way too much!” added Lou.
Sorry, guys, you’re absolutely right: I sprinkled on too much flour before making the slider rolls because the bacon bits dough was so sticky, and I forgot to tap the excess off after they baked. Durrrr.
Luckily, that didn’t stop the kids for going back for seconds, thirds and moreths. When we pointed out that Michelle and Chris’s youngest son, Frank, ate five bacon bits buns, he shrugged and said, “It was good, what can I say?”
Another People person, Steve, stopped by and was Sandwich Surprised too:
“I really liked it,” he said. “The bread is good and the chicken is juicy. But I have a thing about lettuce. I don’t like green crunchy things on my sandwiches.” Oops — I should’ve asked first.
As for Mom and Dad?
“I loved the kid-friendliness of this recipe,” said Michelle. “Even my pickiest eater came back for seconds (and thirds!). Better yet, it was mom-friendly, too: Simple, economical ingredients, minimal prep time and broad appeal. (No one asked me to make them a grilled cheese instead, which happens often in our house.) But really … potato chip crust, bacon bread, honey mustard … what’s not to love?!??”
Chris agreed. “Putting bacon in bread is genius,” he said. “Putting potato chips on chicken is genius. Together? Maximum, Einstein-level genius.”
But wait, there’s more! Part Two of Sandwich Surprise: The Florida Edition is next: Bonus dessert sammies!
*Want a Sandwich Surprise of your own? Just follow my Twitter account, like my Facebook page and/or subscribe to my blog here, and then comment, post or tweet to me. If I’m in your area (as you can see, I do road trip it sometimes) or if you’re taking a trip to New York City, you could be surprised with a sammy soon!