Three weeks ago when I set my Eat the World Showcase menu, it was still decidedly winter, and when reflecting on what to make for my England/ Germany fusion, some contrivance of bangers and mash sounded good. Then, about a week ago spring made itself known with one 70 degree day. With that day, there was a collective hurrah! heard ‘round Chicago. Shorts came out, tights were packed up and coats were shipped off to the cleaners, surely not to be worn again for another six months.
That day, the lone 70 degree day, gave us all hope that warmer weather was now upon us, and with that, I chucked my idea of bangers and mash and thought- grill it. Grill it all.
Today it was 38. Bangers and mash suddenly sounds pretty good.
*Chicago collectively shaking fist at spring.*
Nonetheless, I had it in my mind to grill things to make a sandwich because I love sandwiches, especially those filled with grilled things. But today it was 38 degrees. The broiler will have to do.
Why this sandwich? Well, with all of my friends heading abroad for the adult version of spring break, I figured I’d transport myself with them, and to London for my favorite London meal. Not tea and scones (though, they do have lovely scones there). Not fish and chips (likewise with the fish and chips). A sandwich. A German-esque one at that. This one. Street food. The best.
I’ve no doubt reminisced on this point before-about the German chicken lady who sells what is, in my opinion, the best street food at the famed Portobello Road market every Saturday. When I lived there, I went each week, and I always got the same thing after I discovered that, for me, there was nothing else worth getting. So many other good choices (paella, Thai food, crepes…), but I just couldn’t get enough of this sandwich. It’s just so good and incredibly simple.
I’d never tried to recreate it until today. Silly really, and since I was doing the dirty work all inside today thanks to spring (shaking fist!), I figured I’d take advantage of the stove and make some fancy onions as a topper. Caramelized on the stove and then simmered in beer and mustard, they came out perfectly and would no doubt work well on that German-style potato salad I made last summer. Or in a quiche. Or on a pizza. Possibilities, endless.
Back to the sandwich. The whole shebang was finished with a toasted pretzel roll- because PRETZEL ROLL– and a sprig of parsley. The result?
A glorious mess. The German chicken lady would be proud.
True that this does seem a bit fall-ish rather than spring, but with March Madness going on (GO IRISH!), it feels like the frenzy that every year accompanies college football, and so I figure that football food is okay. Logical, yes?
A note and a story: I used Hacker-Pschorr, a Bavarian beer that hails from Munich because it went with the whole German theme I’ve got going on. Also, staying with the idea of a virtual European visit, this beer whisked me back to Oktoberfest- to a beer tent where Lettuce, Tomato and I stood atop wooden picnic tables drinking this beer by the stein, a scene possibly to be repeated this fall. Stay tuned for upcoming adventures from BLT.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- ½ tsp sage
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- ½ tsp rosemary
- ½ tsp thyme
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp coarse black pepper
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp coarse black pepper
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp thyme
- ½-1 cup your favorite beer
- 1 TB olive oil, for the pan
- 2 pretzel buns, toasted
- A few tablespoons of fresh parsley, to garnish
- Spicy mustard, if you like
- Add the chicken to a large zipper bag. Add the seasonings and toss to coat, and let sit for about 10 minutes. Preheat the broiler.
- In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, add the oil and the onions and let them start to sweat and get nice and soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, using a mortar and pestle, crush the mustard seeds into a medium-fine powder. Add to the pan, as well as the salt, pepper and thyme while the onions continue to do their thing.
- Meanwhile, place the chicken on a broiling pan lined with foil, and broiled 2-3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the thighs. Watch carefully and when they’re cooked, let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes.
- When the onions are nice and soft and the chicken is cooking, add the beer, and scrape all the bits off the bottom. Let them simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add the parsley.
- Make your sandwich! Bun-chicken-onions and extra mustard if you like.
- Feel free to use poultry seasoning in place of the individual spices for the chicken
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