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Spicy & crispy chicken caesar sandwich

Ingredients:

• 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise to create 4, thinner cutlets
• 1 cup buttermilk, plus 1 tablespoon, divided use
• Tabasco sauce
• Salt
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 ½ cups flour
• 1 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
• 1 teaspoon granulated onion
• ½ teaspoon paprika
• ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
• ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more, if you like it “extra spicy”)
• Peanut oil, for frying
• ¼ cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese
• 4 slices mozzarella cheese
• 4 buns, toasted
• Creamy Garlic-Parmesan Sauce (recipe below)
• Romaine leaves, for topping
• Tomato slices, for topping
• 4 strips crispy bacon, cut in half, for topping
• Sea Salt Oven Fries (recipe below)

Preparation:

-Place the 4 chicken cutlets into a medium-size bowl, and pour over the buttermilk; next, add in as many dashes of Tabasco sauce as you’d like (I like mine spicy, so I added quite a few), followed by 1 teaspoon of salt and the pressed garlic cloves; using your hands, mix the marinade into the chicken breasts, and allow them to marinate for at least 20 minutes, or up to 24 hours.

-Prepare your flour coating by adding the flour, the black pepper, granulated garlic and onion, paprika, Italian seasoning, cayenne pepper, and 1 ½ teaspoons of salt into a large bowl, and mix to combine; drizzle in the 1 tablespoon of buttermilk, and using your fingers, mix the buttermilk into the flour creating little “chunky” flour bits (this is good for a little extra crispiness when it fries).

-To coat your chicken, take 1 breast cutlet out of the buttermilk, and allow the excess to drip off; next, add the chicken to the seasoned flour, pressing it in and turning to coat both sides, then place the coated chicken on a clean plate; repeat the process until all chicken cutlets are flour coated. (I like mine a little “extra crispy”, so I re-dredge each breast, one at a time, back in the buttermilk, then once again into the seasoned flour, and back to the plate, and repeat until all cutlets are double-dredged.)

-Add about 4-6 cups of oil to a Dutch oven or heavy bottom deeper pan, so that the oil comes roughly halfway up the sides; place a clip-on digital thermometer onto the side, and bring the oil up to 350°.

-Once the oil is hot, work in batches by adding 2 of the breasts into the oil, allowing them to fry for a total of about 6 minutes, about 3 minutes per side (you can turn them frequently as I did, if you see that they’re browning too much on one side), or until golden-brown and cooked through (you can also turn down the temp of the oil slightly if the breasts are browning too quickly); remove from pan and allow the chicken to drain on a paper towel-lined plate; repeat with the remaining chicken, and then allow the chicken to “rest” for just a few minutes out of the oil.

-Top each crispy fried chicken breast with 1 tablespoon’s worth of the grated or shredded parmesan cheese, then lay a slice of the mozzarella cheese over that; place the cheese-topped chicken breasts onto a foil-lined baking sheet, and place them into the oven on a “low” broil to very quickly melt the cheese, just for a moment.

-Assemble your sandwiches by slathering on a good amount of the Creamy Garlic-Parmesan Sauce onto both the top and bottom buns, then lay a leaf or two of romaine on the bottom bun, followed by a chicken filet, tomato slices, then 2 bacon halves, then the top bun; serve hot with Sea Salt Oven Fries, if desired.

Creamy Garlic-Parmesan Sauce Ingredients:

• 1 cup sour cream
• ¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons, mayonnaise
• ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
• 2 garlic cloves
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
• ½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
• ¼ teaspoon salt, plus an extra pinch, if needed

Preparation:

-Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor, and process until completely smooth and creamy; store in a covered container, and keep any extra in fridge.

Sea Salt Oven Fries Ingredients:

• 2 large russet potatoes (washed, scrubbed and dried), cut lengthwise into 4th ‘s, then sliced into thick matchsticks
• Olive oil
• Sea salt
• Freshly cracked black pepper
• ¼ teaspoon paprika

Preparation:

-Preheat the oven to 400°; line a baking sheet with foil that has been misted with cooking spray.

-Toss the matchstick russet potatoes with about 2 tablespoons of oil, a couple of good pinches of sea salt and black pepper, plus the paprika, and toss the ingredients together; turn the seasoned potatoes out onto the prepared baking sheet in as much of a single layer as possible, and bake the fries for about 45 minutes, or until golden-brown and tender.