The Best Chicken Sandwich of My Life…

February 13, 2010


The Best Chicken Sandwich


I was more excited about this sandwich than I was about the dish that made it happen – chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. That’s the kind of tunnel vision you find yourself dealing with when you’re a sandwich obsessive; always focused on where the next fix is coming from. It wasn’t just the leftover chicken that got me thinking so much as all that remaining oil – 200ml of the stuff. It struck me that this precious garlic, herb and chicken infused oil would make possibly the best garlicky mayonnaise I’d ever tasted. It did.

I’ve never mixed mayonnaise so carefully, such was the strength of my opinion that this oil was the most exquisite leftover to pass my way in a very long time. The result was a wobbly pot ofΒ  yellow goo which had ‘stick me in your face or stick your face in me right now’ written all over it. I mixed it with chunks of the leftover white and dark chicken meat and of course, lots of crispy skin bits.

It was time for The Build. This starts with the best bread you can find – I chose a classic white bloomer from the German bakery Luca’s in East Dulwich. It ain’t cheap but the bread is worth it; dense crumb, real flavour, perfect crust. Chicken-mayo mix heaps generously on one side of the sandwich and I smeared a few of those sweet roasted cloves onto the other.

With richness of course must come balance and the bitter leaves of a curly endive mixed with lemon juice and generous amounts of salt and pepper did the job perfectly.

All that could be heard for a full five minutes was chewing, interspersed by me spluttering, “best…chomp chomp…chicken…chomp…sandwich” – pieces of stray endive dropping on to my top and blobs of mayonnaise on my chin. It wasn’t pretty; I was out of control. Such is the power of a good sandwich.

My Ultimate Chicken Sandwich

First, you need to improve your quality of life considerably by treating yourself to this dish. Then you’re set to take the highway straight to leftover heaven central.

First, make your mayo. Put two large egg yolks in a clean bowl and whisk them together. Begin adding the oil a few drops at a time, whisking as you do so and making sure each bit of oil is fully incorporated before adding the next. As you whisk more oil in and the mayo starts to thicken, you can start adding the oil in slightly larger quantities until you are steadily adding it in a thin stream. The key with mayo is to be cautious with the oil until you get a feel for making it. If you add too much at once, it will split. If this happens, don’t despair. Take a fresh egg yolk in a clean bowl and begin adding the split mixture into it, very slowly, just as if it were the oil. This should bring it back.

Stop when the mayo reaches the desired thickness. Add lemon juice and seasoning to taste.

(This, by the way, is why I didn’t use extra fruity olive oil when I made my chicken, as the flavour would have been too strong for the mayo. The leftover oil is also great for roasting vegetables – particularly broccoli, and in salad dressings).

Mix the mayo with your leftover meat and heap onto one piece of bread. Spread some leftover garlic cloves on the other piece. Add some curly endive or other bitter salad leaves mixed with a generous amount of lemon juice and seasoning. Sandwich together. Eat and forget your troubles ever existed.

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    Reply Lynne February 13, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    .. and god help you if your lover hasn’t had any garlic too…

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    Reply Maunika February 13, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Love it! The combo of the creamy garlicky tender chicken with the endive is fab. Helen if there is only one meal I could have this would certainly be it:)

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    Reply Maunika February 13, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Love this combination of the creamy, garlicky tender chicken with the endive. I so have to eat this soon!

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    Reply ginandcrumpets February 13, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    A roast is really just the groundwork for a good sandwich. That looks delicious, especially the mayo.

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    Reply Su-Lin February 13, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    omg, i want that sandwich. Needs more garlic cloves on the left hand side piece of bread though! πŸ˜‰

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    Reply gastrogeek February 13, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    I’ve had so many disasters with making my own mayonnaise I’d sort of resigned myself to never attempting it again, but your chicken, garlic and herb version does sound ever so slightly amazing.

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    Reply bellini valli February 13, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    I’m in Helen. I love chicken and delicious bread so whay’s not to enjoy!!!

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    Reply Maninas February 13, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Gosh this look absolutely amazing! Yuuuum

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    Reply Carlo February 13, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Ha, I made the chicken last night… and also made aioli with the leftover oil as it seemed like it would be good (it was) and go well with the chicken and some potatoes (it did)!

    Great minds etc. πŸ™‚

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    Reply Gourmet Chick February 14, 2010 at 4:03 am

    Thats the great thing about roast chicken – the leftovers it is the meal that just keeps on giving. I like using my leftover roast chicken in salads, risotto or pasta but I agree a simple sandwich is also sometimes just the ticket. PS congrats on the lurpak ad look forward to seeing it on a billboard soon!

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    Reply Y February 14, 2010 at 5:57 am


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    Reply The Shed February 14, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Ooooh my word that looks amazing. I am almost dribbling.
    I’ve wanted to do a forty-cloves-of-garlic chicken since watching Nigel Slater make it on telly a few years ago. Definitely going to make it next time garlic-loving dad comes to visit!!

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    Reply Helen February 14, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Lynne – Oh he did, don’t worry…

    Maunika – Thanks! For both your comments!

    ginandcrumpets – never a truer word has been written

    Su-Lin – ha ha! well you know, that’s all I had left. I had to try hard to share them equally between the two sandwiches.

    Gastrogeek – Oh no! You must persevere! Definitely worth it i reckon. Just think, you could have one massive bicep on one arm just like me.

    bellini Valli Exactly!

    Maninas – Thank you πŸ™‚

    Carlo – Brilliant! great minds indeed. It seemed like the only sensible option, no?

    Gourmet Chick – Absolutely! The sandwich is a thing of great beauty and leftovers are a gift from the Gods.

    Y – On your keyboard!

    The Shed – Thanks. It’s definitely one for the garlic lovers and yet surprisingly mellow at the same time.

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    Reply Lizzie February 14, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    That looks so. effing. good. I can imagine that mayo is probably the best thing ever, too.

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    Reply tobias cooks! February 14, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Great with all the salad

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    Reply Costa @ Kara's February 15, 2010 at 10:58 am

    this is not a weighless sarmie, is it? the reason im asking is that im not into that side of life… thats just too nihlist for me! life is to enjoy!
    and that sarmie certainly looks ENJOYABLY FANTASTIC!! : )(

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    Reply Jonathan February 15, 2010 at 11:54 am

    You deserve a rather large medal for this! I’m in awe of this sandwich. That mayo deserves a place in the British museum. Top work. I can just picture you in your lab coat waiting for the mayonnaise to thicken just enough before devouring the most amazing sandwich I’ve seen in ages.

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    Reply aforkfulofspaghetti February 15, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    See, the trouble with that is that there’s never any roast chicken left in this household in the first place…

    So I’ll just have to pop round to your place next time you’re making this πŸ˜‰

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    Reply Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen February 15, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Wow, Helen! It looks incredible! All that garlic has got to be so good!

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    Reply Anne February 15, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Those pictures made me dribble just a little πŸ™‚ Must make the chicken asap solely so I can try the sandwich – I love a good sandwich!

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    Reply LexEat February 15, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Love the mayo idea!
    And saw your gorgeous pie last night at Westminster tube station – gorgeous!

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    Reply shayma February 16, 2010 at 3:03 am

    oh my god! you made mayo from the herb and chicken infused oil? genius Helen, you are genius. really, really beautiful sandwich, the greens, the mayo, the juicy chicken. it’s a beauty. x shayma

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    Reply The London Foodie February 16, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Such an excellent use of left over roast chicken! When are you opening your restaurant? What about a supper club? Please, please, please!!!!

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

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    Reply Alex February 17, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Oh, well that’s very clever indeed. Bravo!

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    Reply Helen February 17, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Lizzie – Oh that mayo! I still think about it. Seriously.

    tobias cooks – I woud say it was my attempt at being healthy but clearly that is not the case – just needed to cut through all that fat!

    Costa @Kara’s – forget about the diet. Well, either forget about the diet or forget about this sandwich.

    jonathan – ha ha! I knew you would be the greatest appreciator of the sandwich.

    aforkfulofspaghetti – well, quite. If I hadn’t made the chicken with the sandwich in mind then there wouldn’t have been any leftovers here either.

    Jenn – Oh yes. Vampires be gone.

    Anne – Another sandwich appreciator I see. Good to find a kindred spirit.

    Lexeat – Thanks! And thanks for the #piewatch update πŸ™‚

    Shayma – Thank you! x You are as sweet as ever.

    The London Foodie – Well, at the moment I don’t even have one table, let along a houseful. Otherwise I might, MIGHT, be a little bit tempted.

    Alex – Cheers!

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    Reply Kavey February 25, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    Oh my god. I love love love leftover roast chicken anyway. Your mayo from the cooking oil of the 40 cloves dish plus the meat plus the roasted garlic mush. OH. MY. GOD. Gulp.

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    Reply Thomas Andrew March 6, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Wow! I can see why this is your favorite chicken sandwich. Looks so good and I’m a huge garlic fan too!

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    Reply Hannah March 21, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Oh my. I am nearly crying looking at that sarnie. It looks TOO beautiful. Sigh…

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    Reply Martin September 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    I can vouch for this sandwich. It’s incredible, and a very fitting postscript to the 40-garlic chicken.

    It’s an event sandwich, requiring you to find good bread, whip the mayo just-so and take time, care and precision over its execution. Effort expended will be returned many times over.

    It’s really yummy.

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