Today marks one month that my blog has been live. I thought this would be the perfect time to introduce my first original recipe.
This is a simple recipe with only six ingredients. I often find that simple recipes can be the way to go. I see people trying to complicate classic dishes by putting in a ton of ingredients. Some dishes just don’t need to be messed with.
Today, I am sharing my recipe for buffalo chicken. I do consider myself to be somewhat of a buffalo chicken enthusiast. Growing up in Western PA, we were actually pretty close to Buffalo, NY. It is about three hours from my hometown in PA. Buffalo chicken is very popular in Western PA. I would say that buffalo chicken on menus in Western PA appears about as frequently as crab in Maryland, and similarly in a wide variety of ways (we’ve got buffalo chicken pizza, sandwiches, nachos, wings, dips, mac and cheese, etc). Outside of pineapple (which is my favorite individual food item) macaroni and cheese and buffalo chicken anything are my two favorite dishes. So, I eat a lot of buffalo chicken and I have strong feelings about how it should taste.
My inspiration behind this post was a meal I received in a meal kit last week which wanted me to make buffalo sauce with Sriracha. Now, I love Sriracha, but it absolutely does not belong in buffalo sauce. I make an official proclamation that this is the truth. I did make the sauce with the ingredients sent, but it was disappointing, so much so that I went out this weekend to get ingredients to make my own buffalo chicken.
So here is my recipe for the a great simple buffalo chicken sandwich.
- one pound or so of boneless chicken thighs or breast cutlets (See recipe notes)
- one cup Frank’s red hot or other cayenne pepper sauce
- two tablespoons of butter
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper
- sandwich buns or rolls of your choice (I went with potato rolls)
- olive oil for brushing
The steps of this recipe are pretty easy, too. First, pre-heat your oven to 400. (This is for toasting your buns, so if you have a toaster oven, you could alternatively do this step later with the toaster oven to avoid heating your kitchen).
Next, trim your chicken. You may have to do this if you use breast meat depending on the cut and quality, but you definitely will want to do this step if you use chicken (which I believe makes this sandwich the bomb). Chicken thighs have a lot of fat, and it is best to get cut out as much of it as possible in chunks without disturbing the structure of the chicken. After all, this is a sandwich so you want your serving of chicken in one piece. Now, season the chicken on both side with salt and pepper. (I almost always use Lawry’s season salt to season meat before cooking).
Then, take the cup of hot sauce and and pour it into a frying pan over low heat. You don’t want the sauce to reduce too quickly or burn, so put it on a very low heat. Once the sauce starts to heat up, add the two tablespoons of butter to the pan to melt. Also add the cayenne pepper. Start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more if you like things spicy. Whisk the sauce until the butter is melted and the consistency of the sauce is even.
Now, add your chicken to the pan to cook. It is best to not overcrowd your pan, so I generally don’t put more than four pieces of meat at most in my pan (possibly less if they are big pieces). Since I only had five thighs to cook and one was small, I put them all in at once to cook. At this point, you may want to turn up the burner slightly, but not too much. You still don’t want that sauce to reduce much. The goal is to slowly braise the chicken in the sauce without the sauce bubbling too much.
After the thighs have been cooking for a few minutes, flip the thighs have been cooking for 4-5 minutes, flip the thighs over on the other side and let cook for a few more minutes. (After both sides of the chicken had cooked for a few minutes, I opened up the thighs and spread them flat in the sauce. This results in a quicker and more even cook. You can always reform the thighs when you are done cooking.
When your chicken is close to being done cooking, take your buns and lay them out on a baking sheet (slice them first if not already cut). Drizzle just a bit of olive oil on the buns and spread it evenly with a basting brush. Alternatively, you would spread butter on the buns. Stick the buns in the oven but watch them closely so they don’t burn. (While the buns were in the oven, I turned the burner with the chicken off but left the chicken in the pan with the sauce until the buns reached a golden brown color).
To assemble the sandwich, take your warmed bun and place a piece of chicken on the bottom bun. Now, take the basting brush to add more sauce on top of the chicken. The bun will soak up the sauce, so I like to add extra sauce so I can really taste that buffalo flavor.
I am a minimalist when it comes to buffalo chicken, so that is all I do to my sandwich. You could also add lettuce and ranch or anything else you like on your sandwich. I served my sandwich with a side of blanched green beans and a handful of cherries. (I paired this with the Sam Adams seasonal beer).
I think what really makes this recipe is using boneless chicken thighs. I know they are not as healthy as chicken breast, but they are so much more tender. You can absolutely use chicken breast, but I would would look for chicken cutlets. They cook quickly and are a great size for sandwiches. As a single person who cooks for just myself, I buy one package of chicken and cook it all, packing the leftovers away in the fridge. When cooking for multiple people, look to find a package (or packages) of chicken with enough pieces to at least feed how many people eating.
Also, a cup of hot sauce may seem excessive, especially if you are used to just brushing your meat with sauce. I do feel this is the way to go when using chicken thighs, because you really want to have enough sauce to braise the meat. Don’t feel like you are wasting sauce. It will end up reducing a bit, and if you have any leftover, you can store it in the fridge and use for another use (on nachos, for example).