Sucker Sandwich: Chicken California

A couple of months ago I was recently inspired by a sandwich. I’m the first person to admit… that I used to think sandwiches were for suckers. Boring, blah, overdone, and it’s what you get when you’re eating cheap-o on the menu. Oh thank you 2012 for proving me wrong after 26 years of disappointment!

California-ok. Chicken-check. Apparently when you put these two together on a menu, it really just means…Chicken Sandwich with Avocado. Your welcome for breaking that difficult code. I’ve ordered this a few times burger style, and maybe a small selection of times with chicken, all of which are forgettable…until now.

Confession: Cheddar’s. Chain, big menu, dressed up fancy…like Applebee’s but for more nicely dressed people…hahahahha. We went there. Lincoln just got their first one a few months ago and we wanted to give it a gander. Well, turns out their food for the most part is actually quite incredible. They also cut all their meats in-house which I was pretty surprised to know. We were kicking it at the bar watching basketball and wanted a light dinner and a couple of cocktails (here comes the sandwich entrance).  What do I get when I’m not starving, a sandwich. This one kicked me in the face for badmouthing ‘wiches, and then gave me a kiss of delicious empowering mouth delight. It was flipping amazing. I never thought I’d say this about anything in chain…anything, BUT–hands down, that was the best sandwich (anything between two pieces of bread) I’ve ever ordered at an establishment…ever.

So that was the inspiration for this post. My version of Cheddar’s California Chicken Sandwich. I went out to my parents for Father’s Day on Sunday evening, and between what I had and what my parents had all I had to get was tomatoes and an avocado, so it presented a perfect opportunity.

Can you believe I’ve never roasted my own Tomatoes??? What an idiot .I mean seriously. After doing it this one time, it’s definitely going to become a part of my normal routine. So easy to just fill a tray of these and have them for the week. I bought Roma’s and sliced them in half and squeezed the juice into a bowl before putting them on a cookie sheet. Skin side down, salt/pepper them, then drizzle oil and balsamic (balsamic is optional, but I like it) then either bake at 450 for 30-60 min or 325 for 3+ hours. Amazing!! (especially then chilled!)

Chicken: I had found a random simple marinade concoction earlier that day so that’s what I used for flavor on the hen. Bag, olive oil, 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro, crushed red pepper, and 2 tbsp of fish sauce. I let this marinate for about 2 hours before throwing on the George Foreman.

Avocado: One should be plenty for 4 people. Mashed it up just like I would for guac, added lemon, salt/pepper, then about a tbsp or so of plain greek yogurt and used it as a spread on the sandwich instead of just adding avocado slices.

Bread: My mom had picked up Asiago Bread. I think almost all stores anymore make specialty loaves like crazy so spring for one those. This one was from HyVee and it was perfect. Long slab of loaf probably intended for garlic bread maybe and I just sliced it lengthwise in half, then into four pieces. Drizzle EEOV over it, s/p and stick it right on the grates of the oven for a couple of minutes until you get some light sear marks. Watch it though, you don’t want it to get too tough or crisp .

Let’s put this “I’m a sucker sandwich” together shall we?

1. Do your tomatoes first since they take the longest, or even a day ahead of time works! I think these are best on this particular sandwich after they’re chilled.
2. Marinade/Assess your chicken. Make sure you use your meat mallet to make these thinner if you need to. You don’t want a giant un-proportioned chicken slab on your sandwich.
3. Grill your chicken
4.Toast your bread. Get nice bread. Seriously. It makes half the sandwich. Ciabattafocaccia, or just something special from the fresh-baked deli like we used. 
Your bread should get done right before the chicken so when you are assembling your ‘wich use your avocado spread on the bread, then top with the chilled tomatoes. Add your chicken on directly from the grill and top with your shredded cheese of choice so that it melts. Not too much…you don’t want it to overpower your other star ingredients here by hiding them with the cheese. Then top the other sandwich half and go to town!!
We paired some thin sliced red potatoes drizzled with EEOC and Lawreys and baked them for a half hour as “baked fries” for a side.
There you go, amazing sandwich at your fingertips. If you prep the tomatoes and marinate the chicken the day before, this can be an amazing quick dinner in 20 minutes. 
Why is this so good…I have no idea. But it is. I think it’s the simplicity of each ingredient, but each places together is a perfect pairing of ingredients that actually compliment each other. This is definitely going into my roll frequents every month.

 ONE MORE THING: What did I do with the tomato guts? I sliced mushrooms and soaked them in the juice. I added them to the tomato roast pan for the last 20 minutes of them baking and threw them on the sandwich too. why not!

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