In which the hype, somehow, is real

I am fully, 100% aware of just how behind the times I am, that it is April of 2021 and I am about to use precious space on Beyoncé’s internet to talk about the Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich. But yes, somehow I managed to wait a year and a half from the launch of the sandwich in August of 2019 to finally eat one. But there really isn’t a Popeye’s anywhere near me, and it’s not like we’ve been able to eat in restaurants lately. But I have dinner with my dad every week or two, and generally the way it works is that I bring something over, and he said yesterday that he was in the mood for chicken sandwiches and didn’t specify where from.

And there is a Popeye’s near Dad’s place. Now, it’s a shitty Popeye’s– but then, they all are, right? But if he wants chicken sandwiches anyway, and there’s one by him … well, what the hell, let’s gird our loins for disappointment and try the damn things out. Surely they’ve been out long enough that I can just go get a couple of them, and they’ve probably been scaled back from what they were when they were first out and people were literally murdering each other for the damn things.

Ha.

This particular Popeye’s is a freestanding restaurant that is basically in the middle of a parking lot. It’s not really built to have a lengthy drive-thru line, and when I got there not only did the line completely wrap around the building– let me remind you again that it is April of 2021 and this damn sandwich has been out for nearly two years— but they had someone in the parking lot fucking directing traffic, so that Popeye’s customers could get in line for the drive-thru while still at least theoretically allowing people access to the Subway (this Subway) fifty feet away.

I was in line for maybe fifteen minutes. Given the number of cars, not bad. I ordered three Original sandwiches– Dad had said he wanted two, so I figured I’d get two as well– and one Spicy.

Do not order two of these damn things, and do not try to eat both at a sitting unless you are a giant fat man like me.

Look at that fucking sandwich. That’s the spicy one. The chicken patty was an inch thick. The other one didn’t overhang the bun like this one did but holy hell, this much food for $4.50 or whatever they were charging me– it’s less than that, I think– is madness. The damned sandwiches were delicious; they weren’t overwhelmed with sauce (mayo for one and spicy sauce of some sort for the other,) the pickles were tasty and crunchy although there could have maybe been a couple more of them (I think they slid to the one side of the sandwich during transit?) and the patty itself in both cases was fucking great. This is 100% the best fast-food chicken sandwich I’ve ever had, bar none, and other than a particular sandwich served by one single restaurant in Chicago that obviously I can’t get any longer, it’s probably the best chicken sandwich I’ve ever had, period, and it’s not close. Even the spicy sandwich was, for me, balanced more or less perfectly. It’s probably not hot enough for people who genuinely like super-spicy foods, but for me it hit the sweet spot where I was definitely feeling it but it wasn’t overwhelming.

I finished the damn things nearly two hours ago and my mouth is still kind of watering. That good.

But seriously, don’t order two of them, especially if you want any kind of side. I’ll have more of these– they’re worth going out of my way for– but it’s an enormous amount of food. If, like me, you didn’t want to battle crowds to get one of these when they were all over the news and then just sort of let it fall off your radar, make a trip. It’s worth it.

Equality chicken!

2014-02-04 18.13.05If you are a sensible human with sensible human tastes in food, you already recognize Chick-fil-A as the king of the chicken sandwich, serving chicken that is much like unto God in deliciousness and tastiness.  (What’s that you say?  God isn’t delicious?  To which I respond:  have you ever eaten God?  I thought not.  And then I respond again: Catholics, shuddup.)(*)

Unfortunately, if you are a good sensible human with sensible human tastes in food, you recognize that Chick-fil-A serves their delicious chicken with a side order of bigotry and discrimination, and you don’t ‘specially want to give bigotry any of your money.  Even if the chicken is delicious, chicken fried in the hate-oil of intolerance ain’t edible.  Or some such overwrought figure of speech, I dunno.

This puts us decent folk in a bit of a quandary.  Chick-fil-A is delicious.  But we can’t have the delicious, no, we must deny the delicious, like Christ thrice denied Satan, or something like that.

But I love you.  I love you so very much.  

And so:  I give you knockoff Chick-fil-A, courtesy of sliceofsouthernpie, who may well be horrified to see me linking to her recipe in these particular terms but I hope not because she seems like a nice lady.   I am slightly modifying her recipe, which technically is for nuggets, so I’ll reprint the version we used here:

  • Chicken tenderloins (Boneless.  Aren’t they always?)
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup pickle juice (we used the juice from zesty dill spears and it worked fine)
  • A cup or so of flour
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Fryin’ oil (we used vegetable; CFA’s website confirms that they use peanut oil; I doubt it matters much but let me know if I’m wrong)

First, marinate your chicken: use the egg, the milk, and the pickle juice, whisk the hell out of it and put your chicken pieces into it (you don’t need to beat the hell out of them first or anything) and leave them in the fridge, airtight, for a few hours.  Bek put ours in at lunchtime.  Once you’re ready to start cooking, mix together all of the dry ingredients in a  bowl.  She suggests dredging through once; I think I’m going to authorize the dredge, dip back in marinade, then dredge again method, as our chicken came out slightly under breaded.  Then fry ’em up.

Serve on a white bread bun, preferably heavily buttered and then slightly toasted in the oven (note that we didn’t do this), with exactly two pickle slices, preferably pickle slices dripping with pickle juice and pressed into the top bun.  And one more thing: mine didn’t quiiiite taste right until I sprinkled a couple turns of sea salt directly onto the meat.  Once I did that, other than the slight under breading, they were perfect.  And marriage-equality-friendly, too!  Wheeee!

(*) Yes, that’s a transubstantiation joke. I know, they’re not terribly common.