Never underestimate the power of great chicken sandwiches! Excellent platter for gatherings, picnics and work lunches. My secrets? Fresh dill, a handful of walnuts and shred the chicken really finely using a stand-mixer or electric beater. Yes, really.
If you’ve ever wondered why that gourmet deli’s chicken sandwich is so popular and sells for such a high price, the answer lies not just in the secret blend of ingredients used in the filling. It also has the texture of chicken.
“It’s so soft, it just melts in your mouth!” my friend said.
secret? Using a stand mixer, mince the chicken until it’s basically crumbly, which makes the chicken his sandwich filling tender and creamy.
MAYONNAISE PLUS SOUR CREAM
And the second secret, of course, is the sauce! It should be rich in creamy sauce, but not too oily or heavy with mayonnaise. (because of its delicious taste) should be used.
Ingredients in Chicken Sandwich Filling
Here’s what goes in my chicken sandwiches. And before you say it, let me acknowledge that I left out the most obvious ingredient for sandwiches – BREAD
- Chicken – I use store bought chicken for ease. Bonus: The flesh is seasoned all the way through. Homemade roast chicken – If you’re a better person than me, make your own brined roast chicken (the brine will infuse the flesh with salt like store bought rotisserie chicken).Chicken breast – I prefer to use a whole chicken so you get a good blend of white meat (breast, lean) and dark meat (thigh, leg, wings – juicier and more flavour). But if you prefer to use just chicken breast, use my Foolproof Poached Chicken Breast (guarantees juicy breast) and toss the shredded chicken with 1 teaspoon of salt before mixing the sauce through.
- The bread (which I forgot to picture!) – The traditional bread is soft white sandwich bread. For fellow Australians – hot tip: Bakers Delight. The white sandwich bread, standard slice, is best for finger sandwiches. Soft but not so soft that the filling squishes the bread. And of course, the bread of choice is not set in stone so feel free to use whatever bread you want!
- Mayonnaise – I always use whole egg mayonnaise which is creamier, smoother and has better flavour than mayonnaise that is not labelled “whole egg”. The reason is because whole-egg mayonnaise has more egg in it. My favourite mayonnaise brand is S&W, followed by Kewpie. Hellman’s is good too albeit a little sweeter. I find other brands (especially non whole-egg mayonnaise) too sweet and/or too vinegary and/or lacking in (good) flavour. I live in Sydney, Australia, and you can get all these brands at everyday large grocery stores.
- Sour cream – Secret ingredient! Using this means we can have plenty of tasty sauce in our chicken sandwich filling without it being overly greasy from using just mayonnaise. Yogurt can also be used but sour cream is my preference because it’s creamier.
- Walnuts – The classic nut addition in “gourmet deli-style” chicken sandwiches. I think part of the appeal, other than the hint of nutty flavour, is that it adds a bit of much needed texture in the otherwise very creamy filling. Best substitute – cashews, macadamia nuts or pecans. Else, leave it out.
- Fresh dill – Another ingredient that makes this “gourmet deli-style”! Lovely hint of fresh flavour. No other herb will provide the same flavour so if you don’t have it / like it, just leave it out. (Parsley can be used for a bit of green colour but won’t add flavour).
- Pickles – For the most subtle touch of tang in the filling. Use your favourite pickles. You could even substitute with capers.
- Celery and green onion – Adds background freshness in the filling and the celery also adds texture. While green onion could be substituted with red onion or eschalots (French onions / US: shallots), don’t skip the celery! It really makes a difference.
- Onion, garlic, salt, pepper – The seasonings for the sauce. I use onion and garlic powder rather than fresh because they have a smooth earthy flavour which is what I’m after for the sauce.
- Lemon juice – For a touch of freshness in the sauce. Substitute with vinegar.
- Dijon mustard – More flavour!
How to make deli-style chicken sandwiches
Nothing groundbreaking here. The only trick is to cut the chicken as finely as possible. The shredded, creamier chicken filling sets it apart from other deli-style chicken sandwiches.
As mentioned earlier, a stand mixer makes this easy. A hand mixer also works. Otherwise, use your hands and some patience!
- Remove flesh off the chicken and remove the skin. (No prizes for guessing where all the chicken skin goes around here. You’ll see in the recipe video!)
- Shred the chicken as finely as you can. It takes about 1 minute on medium speed using a stand-mixer using the paddle attachment (not whisk, it gets all caught up in the wires). A hand-held beater will also work but will take a bit longer. Else, use your hands.
- Mix sauce ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Use a whisk, if needed.
- Pour sauce over the chicken with remaining Filling ingredients (walnuts, celery, green onion, pickle, dill) and mix until combined. At this stage, you should sneak in a taste test and marvel at how soft and creamy the chicken sandwich filling is!
- Butter the bread. This not only provides extra flavour but a protection barrier so the sauce of the chicken filling doesn’t soak into the bread.
- Spread the filling on the bread, from edge to edge.
- Cut off crusts – I typically don’t cut the crust off sandwiches but for chicken sandwiches, I do if I’m making them for other people. Partly so they look neat – think High-Tea finger sandwich style – and also because then you get the full effect of the soft creamy chicken filling with just soft white bread. No tough crust getting in the way of the eating experience ! PS You know full well the crusts get eaten right? Plenty of chicken filling makes its way to the crust!
- Cut in half on the diagonal, or into rectangles, then line them upon a platter!
Tip: If you want really clean edges, refrigerate the assembled sandwich for at least 2 hours before slicing. This makes the stuffing firmer and easier to cut cleanly. I didn’t do this with the sandwich pictured in this post.Patience is not my greatest virtue!
I love good sandwiches and these chicken sandwiches are highly rated in my book. As a bonus, the filling he keeps for 3 days and the sandwiches he assembled are best freshly made, but even the next day he keeps them 90% ready (the bread softens over time). In fact, the sandwiches in this post were my dinner and breakfast two days in a row.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I am sharing this recipe with holiday gatherings in mind Take it to your office Christmas party. picnic with friends. A day at the beach.