Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Nadine's Gourmet Chicken Sandwich

Nadine's Gourmet Chicken Sandwich
When I moved to the USA back in 2007, my destination was Portland, Oregon which I have visited prior to my big move. I found Portland absolutely charming, clean and green. The people were kind and accepting. I did not like was horrified by the constant rain and gloomy weather. I come from a country where the sun shines at least 320 days a year and the month of June usually translates to "put on your swimming suit and hit the warm water".
I tried to appreciate the rain by telling myself that all this astounding greenery and crisp air is a direct result of the rain. We need the rain. We need the rain. We need the rain. It became my daily mantra. However, Portland had a lot to offer too. There is a big foodie scene. We loved discovering new restaurants and we had our list of must have dishes. One place we really liked was Papa Hayden. The branch that we enjoyed to go to was located on a very charming street called Lovejoy. How appropriate is that. It is also known for its delicious mile high desserts. On one of our lunch visits to Papa Hayden, I ordered the Chicken Sandwich. I am from the middle East, the only form of chicken in a sandwich is Shish Taouk (Chicken Kabob) and Rotisserie Chicken sandwiches. Both come slathered with garlic sauce/paste and pickles are crammed in every nook and cranny. This chicken sandwich was different but still as delicious. It was nicely spiced, came in a brioche bun with melted cheese and served with avocado, pickles and aioli. This sandwich opened my eyes! Back home, I tried to recreate this sandwich and boy was I successful. This was almost six years ago and I came a long way baby..so did my chicken sandwich. Nadine's Gourmet Chicken Sandwich has become a favorite dinner option. It is much more than a sandwich, it is a delicious, nutritious and balanced meal. Besides, you can marinate the chicken the night before! got to love those "prepare ahead of time dishes".
Disclaimer: The people of Papa Hayden did NOT pay me any money to mention them in this post. In fact, they don't even know that I exist!

Yield: 2-5 Sandwiches (depending on how many pieces of chicken you prefer to add in your sandwich)

2 Skinless boneless chicken breast
2 tablespoons of Olive oil
2 teaspoons Emeril's Cajun Essence (Recipe posted hereafter)
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

2-5 Brioche or hamburger bun (recipe linked below)
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
10 button mushroom
1-2 pickles
1 small Red onion
1 tomato
2-4 leaves of lettuce
Cheese (optional)
Mayo (optional)

Potato Chips (recipe to be posted in the future)
Easy Avocado Salad (recipe linked below)

Prepare the marinade: In a bowl big enough to hold the chicken pieces, add the olive oil and Emeril's essence spices, mustard, lemon juice and worcestershire sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. Mind you that the Emeril's essence already contains salt and pepper. I like to add around 1/2 teaspoon of salt and small pinch of pepper. Mix until all combined and thickens a bit.

Butterfly the chicken: Wash the chicken and pat it dry with paper towel. (It completely disturbs me that no one really washes the chicken on cooking shows on TV. They just take them out of the packaging and use them.). Butterfly the chicken using the edge of a knife parallel to the cutting board. Begin cutting down the length of the side of the breast. Carefully slice the breast in half widthwise to the other edge. When you normally butterfly a chicken breast you don't cut all the way, but in this case, the chicken piece would be too big. Please be careful when using knives.
Butterflied Chicken Breasts
Add the chicken to the marinade. You can marinate it from 10 minutes to up to overnight in advance.
Marinated Chicken 
Cook the chicken: Heat a large size pan over high heat. I like to use a griddle because it leaves nice marks on the chicken and a great taste. However, the regular pan works just fine, just don't crown the chicken, or otherwise they will steam instead of sautee. Cook them in batches if you don't have a big size pan.

Thinly slice the button mushroom. Put 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in pan on high heat, add the mushroom, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Assembly: I make my own hamburger buns at home, but you can always use store bought buns. Cut the bun in the middle and lightly toast it. You can add a smudge of light Mayo if you want. My husband likes to do that, I opt not to. Add thinly sliced tomatoes and red onion, a lettuce leaf, sliced pickles and top with the reserved cooked mushroom. You can also add some cheese, like cheddar or gruyere.

I like to serve this wonderful sandwich with my Easy Avocado Salad and Homemade Chips. You can always add plain avocado slices.

You can check the recipe for the Easy Avocado Salad here: Easy Avocado Salad.
You can check the recipe of the Homemade Hamburger bun here: Homemade Hamburgers Bun.

The homemade bun and sides are a great addition to this sandwich
Emeril's Essence

Yield: 2/3 cup
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (the original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of cayenne but I can't tolerate hot spices and for my daughter's sake too). You can totally omit it.

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

I have dried onion flakes, so I use my magic bullet or any food processor or spice grinder to grind the onion flakes. I also grind whole black peppercorn into powder. I store the mix in a tight spice container, label it and store it in my spice cabinet.


Emeril's Essence: Emeril's Lagasse on Foodnetwork

The Easy Avocado Salad: Easy Avocado Salad.
The Homemade Hamburger bun: Homemade Hamburgers Bun.


  1. As an alternative to slicing the chicken breasts, what about pounding them flat with a kitchen hammer (like schnitzel)? Put the breasts (or skinless boneless thighs) between two pieces of paper so you don't spatter chicken juice everywhere with your pounding.

  2. it is true Leo, this is a great alternative. I often use the pounding method when making Chicken Parmigiano but in this case I prefer butterflying because the cut chicken pieces fit perfectly inside the bun. With all the sides and condiments, a whole breast would be too big of a portion.