Watch out, Popeyes! Ina Garten is ready to show the world that the best fried chicken doesn't come from a fast-food chain — it can be made right at home.
On the heels of several viral chicken sandwich battles that pitted tried-and-true favorites like Wendy's and Chick-fil-A against various newcomers, the "Barefoot Contessa" star shared her own fried chicken sandwich recipe with Food Network magazine. Naturally, since it's made by Garten, it looks absolutely delicious.
“For years I thought about making fried chicken by double-dipping the chicken in the buttermilk and flour mixtures to form a thick, crispy crust," Garten says in the March issue, which hits newsstands mid-February. "But I never actually got around to doing it. Then, when Shake Shack’s cookbook came out, I realized that was exactly the method they used for their fabulous Chick’n Shack sandwich! I decided it was finally time to roll up my sleeves and give it a try."
This isn’t the first time Garten has shown this particular fried chicken dish some real love. During an episode of her Food Network show, she referred to the sandwich from Shake Shack as "the best fried chicken anyone has ever had.”
That's pretty high praise from a chef who is regarded as the authority on pretty much everything that can be eaten.
So what's in a Barefoot Contessa-style fried chicken sandwich?
One of Garten’s secrets to crisp, golden chicken that's also incredibly juicy on the inside is the marinade.
“You soak the chicken breasts in a buttermilk mixture for at least 8 hours (and up to 24) so all those great flavors seep into the meat," she said. "Then you dredge the pieces in a spicy flour mixture, dip them again into the buttermilk and dredge them back through the flour mixture."
Her flour mixture gets its kick from the addition of cayenne pepper and some beautiful smokiness from paprika.
To assemble her sandwich, Garten doesn't hold back on the delicious extras. Each sandwich gets a generous slathering of her signature buttermilk-herbed mayonnaise, fresh lettuce and — like both Chick-fil-A and Popeyes — pickles.
The final dish results in what Garten says is the "perfect combination of flavors and textures: the crunchy, hot chicken with a cool, creamy sauce, tangy pickles and a warm toasted bun."
Sadly, for those who would rather buy than fry their birds, Garten has no plans to open a fried chicken restaurant any time soon. However, her sandwich only take 45 minutes to cook and has been rated as easy.
Shake Shack, which created the inspiration behind Garten's sandwich, introduced its Chick'n Shack in 2016. While the deep-fried chicken breast isn't spicy, the sandwich is also served with lettuce, pickles and a buttermilk-herb mayo, so it might be the closest thing you can get to deep-fried barefoot bliss.
The full recipe for Ina Garten's fried chicken sandwich can be found here.