Perfect roast chicken for the perfect chicken sandwich

By JeanMarie Brownson

Chicken factors into most lunches in our family. Chicken salad, cold fried chicken, chicken soup and leftover barbecued or grilled chicken. Chicken sandwiches of all manner. No wonder that I select the chicken sandwich at a recent lunch at Daily Provisions in New York. Their rotisserie chicken sandwich with bacon, avocado and green tomato wows. Thick slices of warm multigrain bread held the goodness together.

No doubt, perfectly roast chicken makes any sandwich stellar. Large shreds of moist, nicely seasoned white and dark meat add texture, richness and protein to the sandwich. When the chicken and bread are both warm, the stars align.

At home, I prefer to roast my own chicken rather than rely on supermarket rotisserie chicken (which can be dry). I time myself — from seasoning the chicken to serving, I need a little more than 1 1/4 hours. I like to roast two small chickens so there’s plenty for weekday rice bowls or speedy tacos.

I find bread to be the biggest challenge to a good grown-up homemade sandwich. Yes, presliced, supermarket bread allowed us to make hundreds of sandwiches destined for school lunches. I eat bread less frequently now, so I want the good stuff. I look for whole grain, artisan breads sold unsliced for freshness. That also allows me to warm the bread without fear of drying and to slice it as thick as I wish.

Always on the hunt for a great bakery, I stock up on bread when I find one. At Tartine in San Francisco, Hewn Bakery in Evanston, Zak the Baker in Miami, Amy’s Bread in New York City, I buy the heartiest whole grain bread they make, then wrap it well to freeze. Thawed at room temperature (still wrapped), then crisped in a hot oven or sliced and toasted on the grill, good bread motivates me to build a better sandwich.

Another way to upgrade my sandwich is to think about the bread spread. It’s easy to doctor up bottled mayonnaise with deep rich flavor by stirring in olive tapenade, curry paste or sun-dried tomato pesto. Adding something fresh, such as arugula or chopped herbs, distributes their flavor throughout each bite.

Potato chips factor into nearly every Saturday lunch for as long as I can remember. The salty, crunchy treat completes the meal. Recently, I’ve taken to putting them into my cookies — an idea from a favorite aunt. She crushed just the right amount of chips into a buttery dough.

For my Saturday cookies, I’m also adding crushed sourdough pretzels, chopped nuts and a bit of shredded coconut. Thinking of the chocolate-covered potato chips we like, I add bits of dark chocolate to the cookies as well. Using a bit of almond flour in place of some of the all-purpose flour and powdered sugar in place of granulated, gives the cookies a very fragile, short texture. Because they are so fragile, let the cookies cool most of the way on the baking sheet before transferring to the rack to completely cool. I pack them into a tin with wax paper between the layers to protect them.

Serve the sandwiches accompanied by a green salad. In this case, an updated, speedy version of broccoli salad using bottle dressing and a crunchy cap of fried onions.