It's easier than you think. 

By Matthew Kassel
October 30, 2019
Popeyes

I didn’t get a chance to try the Popeyes chicken sandwichwhen it was unveiled in August and promptly sold out about two weeks later, which is why I’m excited to get the sandwich when it returns to stores this Sunday. I can’t say that I’ll be first in line, though. I like fast food but don’t think of myself as the type of person who rushes to Popeyes—a chain about which I am somewhat ambivalent, despite that I live around the corner from one—because of a sandwich.

Still, I have been curious about all the hullabaloo, so I recently decided to make the sandwich myself to get a sense of what everyone is raving about. It was easier than I had imagined. The Popeyes sandwich consists of fried chicken on a brioche bun with mayonnaise and pickles. (Customers can also ask for a spicy Cajun sauce.) That’s it. Of course, making fried chicken isn’t exactly a simple task, but it isn’t that difficult either. You just need a lot of oil and a relatively large pot, among other things. I consulted Robby Melvin’s “copycat” Popeyes fried chickenrecipe, which is heavy on the spices, including cayenne and paprika in the batter. 

Photo: Aaron Kirk; Prop Styling: Christina Daley; Food Styling: Robby Melvin 

GET THE RECIPE: Copycat Popeyes Fried Chicken 

I ended up modifying the recipe, which calls for a whole chicken hacked into eight pieces. Instead, I bought two hefty boneless chicken breasts, cut them into manageable chunks and then pounded them out a bit so they’d be thinner and more agreeable on a bun. Melvin suggests you marinate the chicken overnight in a buttermilk-hot sauce mix, but because I was short on time, I let the chicken sit for just a few hours in the solution before frying it. Perhaps that’s sacrilege to some of you, but for the purposes of my lunch, it did the job.

I fried the breasts in an oil with a high smoke point—using a combination of peanut, safflower and sunflower oil because I didn’t have enough of one alone—and transferred the golden-brown pieces to a dish lined with paper towels. I slathered boths sides of a brioche slider bun with mayonnaise and added a couple of drops of Tabasco sauce because, well, I can. Then I placed three bread-and-butter pickle chips on the bottom side of the bun. 

WATCH: Popeye's Chicken Sandwich Review

I opted for bread-and-butter pickles, which I don’t usually like on their own—too sweet—because I figured they’d cut against the oiliness of the chicken. (I could have gone for kosher dills, but something sweet and vinegary, in my opinion, works best here.) I plopped down a piece of chicken, closed the sandwich and took a bite. 

The verdict? Pretty darn good. I can’t say that my fried chicken had quitethe same level of crispines that a piece of Popeyes chicken has, though I’m not sure I expected that to be the case given the constraints of my kitchen, which really only has one operable burner that doesn’t go too high. But overall, it was a satisfying meal. If you’re jonesing for a Popeyes chicken sandwich right now, I’d recommend following this recipe(with the modifications noted above). It’ll certainly hold you over until the “real thing” comes back. 

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