Watch J. Kenji López-Alt, managing culinary director of and author of The Food Lab, construct this epically delicious sandwich


/*–>*/Ah, the challenges of chicken breasts. “They’re an awkward shape, so they’re hard to cook evenly. They’re bland. And how do you get them browned without overcooking the interior?” says J. Kenji López-Alt, who’s triumphed repeatedly over chicken on his Serious Eats online column, The Food Lab. With a few simple techniques honed over multiple tests, he’s figured out how to turn this bane of the kitchen into a tender, juicy, flavor-packed dinner.

With a degree from MIT and almost a decade of experience cooking in restaurants, López-Alt opens readers’ eyes to the hidden, molecular world of food. But it’s his often zany storytelling that hooks many fans and has helped his first book, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking through Science (W. W. Norton & Company, 2015), land on The New York Times best-seller list.

López-Alt is precise, but he’s no slave to a recipe. “It’s like having turn-by-turn directions to one location,” he says. The technique within the recipe is the key: “It allows you to get anywhere in that neighborhood.” In his Northern California backyard recently, he showed us the path to better chicken, including this outstanding chicken sandwich recipe.

This sandwich packs a punch thanks to a creamy jalapeño sauce, but don’t worry, you can fine-tune the spice to your preference. Seed the chile if you prefer a milder sauce, or spread it on thick for some extra heat. Leftover grilled chicken is perfect, but you can also make it fresh for a hot sammie. López-Alt recommends using a soft, mild bun that won’t stand in the way of your fillings. The cilantro slaw adds plenty of crunch, but you won’t regret adding potato straws to this masterpiece.

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