I was more excited about this sandwich than I was about the dish that made it happen – chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. That’s the kind of tunnel vision you find yourself dealing with when you’re a sandwich obsessive; always focused on where the next fix is coming from. It wasn’t just the leftover chicken that got me thinking so much as all that remaining oil – 200ml of the stuff. It struck me that this precious garlic, herb and chicken infused oil would make possibly the best garlicky mayonnaise I’d ever tasted. It did.
I’ve never mixed mayonnaise so carefully, such was the strength of my opinion that this oil was the most exquisite leftover to pass my way in a very long time. The result was a wobbly pot of yellow goo which had ‘stick me in your face or stick your face in me right now’ written all over it. I mixed it with chunks of the leftover white and dark chicken meat and of course, lots of crispy skin bits.
It was time for The Build. This starts with the best bread you can find – I chose a classic white bloomer from the German bakery Luca’s in East Dulwich. It ain’t cheap but the bread is worth it; dense crumb, real flavour, perfect crust. Chicken-mayo mix heaps generously on one side of the sandwich and I smeared a few of those sweet roasted cloves onto the other.
With richness of course must come balance and the bitter leaves of a curly endive mixed with lemon juice and generous amounts of salt and pepper did the job perfectly.
All that could be heard for a full five minutes was chewing, interspersed by me spluttering, “best…chomp chomp…chicken…chomp…sandwich” – pieces of stray endive dropping on to my top and blobs of mayonnaise on my chin. It wasn’t pretty; I was out of control. Such is the power of a good sandwich.
My Ultimate Chicken Sandwich
First, you need to improve your quality of life considerably by treating yourself to this dish. Then you’re set to take the highway straight to leftover heaven central.
First, make your mayo. Put two large egg yolks in a clean bowl and whisk them together. Begin adding the oil a few drops at a time, whisking as you do so and making sure each bit of oil is fully incorporated before adding the next. As you whisk more oil in and the mayo starts to thicken, you can start adding the oil in slightly larger quantities until you are steadily adding it in a thin stream. The key with mayo is to be cautious with the oil until you get a feel for making it. If you add too much at once, it will split. If this happens, don’t despair. Take a fresh egg yolk in a clean bowl and begin adding the split mixture into it, very slowly, just as if it were the oil. This should bring it back.
Stop when the mayo reaches the desired thickness. Add lemon juice and seasoning to taste.
(This, by the way, is why I didn’t use extra fruity olive oil when I made my chicken, as the flavour would have been too strong for the mayo. The leftover oil is also great for roasting vegetables – particularly broccoli, and in salad dressings).
Mix the mayo with your leftover meat and heap onto one piece of bread. Spread some leftover garlic cloves on the other piece. Add some curly endive or other bitter salad leaves mixed with a generous amount of lemon juice and seasoning. Sandwich together. Eat and forget your troubles ever existed.