The Buffalo chicken sandwich, with its irresistible interplay of hot, crisp chicken; squishy bun; zingy, buttery hot sauce; and tangy blue cheese, has the potential for brilliance—but not if the chicken loses its craggy crunch when it’s doused in sauce.
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My version starts with chicken breasts; the lean white meat is an ideal canvas for the rich and fiery accoutrements. I halve them horizontally and pound them thin to maximize surface area for the utmost crunch per bite. Then, for the coating, I call on flour for sturdiness, cornstarch for crispness, and baking powder to lighten things up. A drizzle of buttermilk creates a shaggy blend that is pressed onto the cutlets and allowed to set. Next, it’s time to deep-fry—and delight in the way the mixture coalesces into a substantial crackly shell.
A sauce that’s thick enough to be brushed onto the chicken is also key for crunch preservation. I increase the potency of a classic wing sauce by spiking Frank’s RedHot sauce with more cayenne and decreasing the butter before reducing it in a saucepan to make it viscous. A shot of cider vinegar supplements the acidity.
Lastly, I mash blue cheese with a fork and stir in mayonnaise, buttermilk, and vinegar. Shredded iceberg lettuce provides a cool contrast to the spicy, piquant chicken and the milky blue cheese spread. This is a package that’s well worth a little frying.