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Chicken tender sandwich with chorizo

As the season wears on, I sit on my back deck reminiscing the awful winter that we just experienced. It’s hard for me to get too upset about the heat for that reason and also I guess because I have spent so many years in professional kitchens, hot and sticky have been the order of the day for most of my adult life.
Standing on the back deck of the restaurant last night, I was rewarded with a lightning show from the storm that blew over the southern part of the peninsula. We didn’t get a drop of rain in Bethany, but the show was enough. Now that I think about it, I never heard a single clap of thunder, but I can only imagine that it happened, as the show was so magnificent.
Set against a backdrop of haze and clouds and what appeared to be some fog north of the storm, it amplified the magnitude of each lightning bolt as it either reached across the sky or touched down as it came in contact with the ground. It was something out of a book.
Now as I sit on the back deck, and our dog, Sadie, is nosing around inspecting every nook and cranny of the grills, the cabinets et al., I find at least a little peace and quiet before I go back to work tonight. Now that tropical storm Bill is on the radar, officially getting set to hit Texas later in the day, we have another reason to appreciate a scorching-hot day such as today.
As we all know, if you don’t like the weather on Delmarva, just wait 15 minutes. With a deep dip in temperatures tomorrow, we have it on authority that the big storm will hit us by Father’s Day, this Sunday.
But the mind wanders. I get a hankering for fried chicken, and as I won’t be going to buy some any time soon, I decide to throw together a sandwich for the ages. As a Maryland boy, I love fried chicken. Its crunchy skin, the flavors and the gestalt just say ‘Eastern Shore’ to me. And since I’m not that much of a crab picker (I know, shame on me) I will simply have to settle for the fried chicken.
Below is a simple recipe for chicken breader, and I know what you are going to say. “You hate Old Bay, Paul.” And you would be right usually, but this is one of those instances when the blend works its magic. And once you get the ratios down for the breader, I don’t think you’ll be stopping at the chicken. There is a magical thing that happens once you figure out your fryer breader. It’s a very special thing. I for one and happy to be standing over a hot fryer, knowing all the while that the sandwich will be delicious and that winter is still a long ways away.

Chicken Tender Sandwich

Serves 4
8 slices bread
Romaine lettuce, as needed
Chicken tenders (4 per person, recipe follows)
Roasted Garlic-Chorizo Schmear (recipe follows)
Chipotle Mayo (recipe follows)

1. Grill or toast the bread to add some nice flavor and sturdiness.
2. Spread the top and bottom slices of bread with some Chipotle mayo. Add as much or as little as you like. This is a fried chicken sandwich, so don’t let “health’ get in the way of enjoying this avian kerfuffle.
3. On the bottom slice of bread, place lettuce, chicken and the schmear in a big pile.
4. Top the sandwich with the top slice and skewer, making service a breeze.
Chicken Tenders
Makes about 16 tenders
4 ea. Medium chicken breasts
2 c. All-purpose Flour
1/2 c. Old Bay
White Pepper, as needed
Buttermilk, for dipping

1. Cut each breast into four strips and place in buttermilk.
2. Have a fryer set to 350F and set up your breading station as follows: Whisk together the flour, Old Bay and white pepper.
3. For this easy breader, remove from buttermilk and place in dry breader mix, coating thoroughly. As the flour hydrates, add more so that you end up with a nice, thick coating of breader.
4. Drop in the fryer carefully and fry until cooked. They won’t take that long because they are relatively small. Ensure that the internal temperature reaches 165F.
5. Set aside but keep warm until ready to assemble and serve.

Roasted Garlic-Chorizo Schmear
Makes about 3 cups
1 c. Fresh garlic cloves
1 c. Cherry tomatoes
Olive oil, as needed
1/2 c. Good Chorizo
1/2 c. Bacon lardons, crispy

1. Toss the tomatoes and garlic in olive oil separately and place on separate pans.
2. Season with salt & pepper and roast in a 350F oven until the garlic soft and spreadable and the tomatoes are blistered and soft. Let cool.
3. When cool enough to handle, place the garlic, tomato, chorizo and bacon on a good size cutting board.
4. Chop into a spreadable ‘tapenade’ and chill until ready to use.

Chipotle Mayonnaise

Makes about 2 cups
2 c. Real Mayonnaise
1 ea. Chipotle pepper with adobo

1. Combine ingredients in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper if needed, but I find that these two ingredients are usually enough.