In the quest to eat healthier and less processed foods, we’ve almost stopped eating fast food in my household but that doesn’t stop the cravings for it at times.  I decided it was time to try my hand at making some of our favorite fast foods at home starting with a copy “Chick-Fil-A” sandwich and nuggets (I also did a copy of the In-n-Out burger, but that’s for another time).  The classic chicken sandwich with dill pickles!  Yummy!

This is one of those recipes that isn’t the healthiest but by choosing better ingredients you are eating better; it’s more of one of those splurge recipes for when you want comfort food.  You are also saving a lot of money.  This recipe cost me about the price of one sandwich at Chick-Fil-A and I had enough to make four sandwiches and about a dozen nuggets (off course some of this will depend on the size of your chicken breast).  I get boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.99 a pound on sale and it’s hormone and antibiotic free.  The peanut oil was the most expensive part of the rest of the ingredients but it was so worth it.  I also switched all the all-purpose flour for pastry whole wheat flour to make the sandwiches a little healthier (I’ll give you the recipe both ways if you can’t get the pastry whole wheat flour).

After a couple of tries to get the flavors right (I started out with the Chick-Fil-A Copycat Chicken Sandwiches recipe from Malcolm Bedell), I was able to come up with a recipe for the breading and cooking process for both the sandwich and the nuggets.  The first time I made the chicken, I purchased the expensive hamburger buns, thinking it would be closer to the same taste as that served at the restaurant but soon found out I was wrong.  While a good bun is still in order, it is the plain jane hamburger bun, nothing fancy.  Anything more and you lose the original chicken sandwich flavor.  I was pretty close on the chicken on the first try but used canola oil instead of peanut oil; wrong again.  Peanut oil is a must to get the same flavor and taste.  Finally, a trick that took some digging to figure out was the chicken had to be marinated in the dill pickle juice for at least two hours before using.  DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT skip or try to change any of these details or the recipe (unless I mentioned it’s ok to substitute or change something) or your flavor will not taste close to that of the restaurant.

Here’s the recipe without anymore ado from me because I know you are just dying to go make your own Hot and juicy made-to-order homemade “Chick-Fil-A” sandwich or nuggets at home.  Both so tender (the pickle juice tenderizes the meat and adds flavor), they just melt in your mouth and your taste buds sing with joy as you inhale the aromas of fresh fast food straight from your kitchen instead of the drive through.  I need to work on waffle fries next because it’s almost sacrilegious to eat a “Chick-Fil-A” sandwich without them.

My Copy “Chick-Fil-A” Sandwich and Nugget Recipe

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Dill pickle juice for marinade

Sea Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1 1/2tsp. paprika

Peanut oil, for frying

1 egg

1/2 cup fat-free milk (this is changeable with milk containing fat)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour (substitute with pastry whole wheat flour)

1/4 cup whole-wheat flour

1 tbsp. dry milk

1 tbsp. powdered sugar

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. dry mustard

dill pickles slices, enough for 2 per sandwich

4 soft hamburger buns, split

1 1/2 tbsp. butter, softened

Cut each chicken breast in half horizontally, then cut those pieces in half across the middle if your chicken breasts are large enough.  Pound each piece to 1/8 inch thick  (if you put the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap, it’ll keep the chicken from splattering when pounding).  Place the chicken in a bowl and cover with pickle juice.  Cover bowl with plastic and marinate at least 2 hours in the fridge.  Cut smaller pieces of chicken and extras into nuggets sizes and treat them the same for the marinating, breading and cooking process.

Drain pickle juice from the chicken and place flat on a cutting board or dish.  Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper to taste and 1 teaspoon of paprika.

Heat 2 inches of peanut oil to 325º in a heavy pot or cast iron skillet.

In a shallow dish, mix together the egg, milk and 2 tablespoons of water.  In a second shallow dish combine flours, dry milk, powdered sugar, baking soda, dry mustard and 1/2 teaspoon paprika.

Dip the chicken first in the flour mix, then into the egg mix and back into the flour mix, coating chicken pieces completely.  Gently shake to remove any excess flour and place in the hot 325º skillet or pot.  Fry in the hot oil, turning once if needed, until golden brown (about 4 minutes).  Drain the finished chicken on paper towels or a brown paper bag, allowing chicken to rest for 2 to 3 minutes before using.

While chicken is resting, heat another large skillet to medium heat.  Split the buns open and spread in the insides with butter.  Place in the skillet to lightly toast the buttered side until it’s golden brown (apparently the real Chick-Fil-A sandwich is then coated again with more butter after coming out of the pan but I just couldn’t do it.  It doesn’t need it in my opinion or change the flavor but if you want closer to authentic, add more butter as Paula Dean used to say).

To assemble: Dip 2 pickle slices into the jar to moisten with pickle juice and place on the bottom bun.  Put a piece of the fried chicken on top of the pickles and top with the bun top.

Enjoy your homemade “Chick-Fil-A” chicken sandwich.  For the nuggets, pair with your favorite dipping sauce.

Yield: 4 sandwiches and about a dozen nuggets (when using larger chicken breasts).

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