Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Easy, crispy smoky chicken sandwich

Ann Maloney

THE WASHINGTON POST – When I pull out the charcoal grill on a Sunday afternoon, I often cook a variety of proteins and vegetables, so we can make meals out of them throughout the week. This line-up almost always includes chicken.

I love the smoky flavour the grill delivers, and the poultry is so versatile. I can eat it hot. Or, later in the week, I can mince it into a chicken salad or slice it and toss it with crisp greens or slip it into a quesadilla for a quick meal.

Right now, this dish is my favourite way to eat chicken fresh off the grill because it turns all the delicious parts of the popular chicken Caesar salad into a sandwich you can pick up and bite into.

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs – or breasts, if you prefer – get a short marinade in oil, mustard and garlic powder before grilling. You can cook the protein on a grill pan or in the oven, if you prefer.

Then, romaine or other crispy lettuce is generously tossed with a pungent homemade Caesar dressing. This dressing is pretty easy to make – and it’s so much better. It calls for common ingredients you likely have at home, including fresh garlic, parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, mustard, vinegar, hot sauce, honey, pepper and olive oil. I like to include mashed anchovies, but that’s optional.

Grilled chicken Caesar salad sandwich. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

Maybe it’s just me, but I think the best bites of the Caesar salad are the ones that include a bit of chicken, a bite of greens and a healthy dose of crunch from a garlicky crouton.

What makes the sandwich stand a little taller than the salad is that you get that combo in every bite.

To mimic the croutons, right at the end, I like to brush the insides of tender ciabatta rolls with some of the dressing, then grill them on both sides until the bread turns toasty and golden. This way, the rolls can stand in for the croutons – usually a supporting role – in a big, crispy way.

For the chicken:
– Two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

– One tablespoon Dijon mustard

– One teaspoon garlic powder

– Four boneless, skinless chicken thighs

For the dressing:
– Four anchovy fillets, drained and mashed

– Two cloves garlic, minced or finely grated

– Six tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese

– One tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

– One tablespoon fresh lemon juice

– Onetablespoon Dijon mustard

– Two teaspoons vinegar

– One teaspoon hot sauce, plus more as needed

– Half teaspoon honey

– Half teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

– Half cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the sandwich:
– Eight to 12 large romaine lettuce leaves, washed and broken into bite-size pieces

– Four ciabatta rolls

– Freshly shaved parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

– Pickled cucumber for serving (optional)

In an airtight container large enough to hold the chicken, whisk together the oil, mustard and garlic powder. Add the chicken and turn the pieces so they are well coated. Cover and marinate on the counter for about 10 minutes or refrigerate up to overnight.

Make the salad dressing
While the chicken marinates, in a medium bowl, whisk together the anchovies, garlic, cheese, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, mustard, vinegar, hot sauce, honey and pepper until thoroughly combined. Slowly add the oil in a steady stream, continuing to whisk just until the dressing is emulsified. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as desired.

When ready to cook, prepare your gas or charcoal grill for direct-heat grilling or preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Place the chicken, with the marinade still clinging to it, onto the grill or grill pan. Cook without moving the chicken until it develops grill marks, about five minutes. Flip and cook for an additional five minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

Brush the interior of the ciabatta rolls lightly with some of the dressing and place cut-side down on the grill pan or the hot grill until they are toasted with light grill marks. (You can grill both sides of the rolls if you like).

When you’re ready to build your sandwiches, in a large bowl, toss together the romaine with half cup of the dressing until well coated. Lay a piece of chicken on the bottom half of each roll, top with a generous portion of the dressed romaine and add the shaved cheese, if using.

Cover with each roll top, and serve with pickled cucumber on the side, if desired.