During Fashion Week, I came up with the idea to make a roasted chicken, sweet potato and greens sandwich on a roll or cornbread loaf. And the end of every Fashion Week, E and I have a tradition: we close out a hectic week of work with a nice, slow meal at Blue Ribbon in Soho. They have the most succulent fried chicken south of 14th street, but they also have an amazing roasted chicken there with sweet potatoes and leeks or spinach that I order just about every time.
In anticipation of our Blue Ribbon date, I bought chicken at Forager’s and slow roasted it with plans to make a sandwich version of my favorite Blue Ribbon dish. But I never got around to it, what with all of the parties and shows I was covering, and the chicken went to waste.
Then I went home to Michigan, where my mom had some fried chicken breasts, sweet potatoes and collard greens set aside for dinner. So I made a version of the sandwich on an English muffin for my father. “Pretty good,” Dad told me in between bites. I was determined to prepare it for E right when I landed in New York.
But when I got home, E and I ordered sushi instead.
Last weekend, I focused. This sandwich was getting made no matter if it were the only thing I did all weekend (who needs fresh laundry or clean floors?) I had never roasted a chicken before, but I figured a rainy Saturday night in September was as good a time as any to practice. I also had never made sweet potatoes from scratch, but again a little research on the Interwebs and I was confident I could wing it.
Wing it I did. While E worked in his office, I put together a lovely dinner for E, including a side of sauteed Swiss chard (I knew collard greens would be too “green for him,” but thought I could sell him on Swiss chard). “You’re getting much better at this cooking thing,” he said, slicing a large piece of chicken for himself. Of course, he didn’t prefer the chard. “You know me and leafy greens.” Collard greens and Swiss chard make two more foods I have to add to the Forbidden Foods list.
The next day, I made sandwiches with the leftovers, which E devoured while typing away on the computer. I ate mine in front of the tv while watching football–just like my dad did the week before.
Sandwiches from leftovers are not supposed to be pretty. They’re supposed to be imperfect and messy and barely held together by the two pieces of bread. You’re supposed to drop innards of the sandwich on the plate in between downs during the game, and scoop those up with a fork, which you can also use to stab at hands who try to grab the remote and change the channel during commercials.
Or am I just a messy eater who loves sports?
4 buns or slices of bread
1 whole chicken (or two bone-in chicken breasts)
1 stick butter, softened at room temperature
1/4 cup lemon thyme
1/4 cup fresh rosemary
4 to 5 lemon slices
4 sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cubed
2 shots bourbon
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon nutmeg
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons chicken broth
2 cups Swiss chard (or mustard or collard greens if you prefer), cut into 1 inch strips
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Prep chicken: rinse chicken, and sprinkle kosher salt onto skin until evenly coated. In a small bowl, mix softened butter, thyme and rosemary. Use about half of the mixture (or 4 tablespoons of butter) to smooth all over chicken. Layer the lemon slices underneath chicken, or between wings and breast. Sprinkle on black pepper, place in roasting pan, and into oven. Cook for about 50 minutes (we removed it when the internal temperature hit 165 degrees).
Next, sweet potatoes. Boil water in a large pot. Place cubed potatoes into boiling water and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat and drain potatoes. Now, place drained potatoes back into empty pot. Mix in bourbon, cinnamon, nutmeg, chicken broth and brown sugar. Also mix in the rest of the butter/rosemary/thyme mixture. Mash with potato masher or whisk until smooth.
Next, greens. Sautee in medium saucepan with garlic, black pepper and olive oil for about 5 minutes, or until greens wilt.
Assemble sandwiches: toast bread. Smooth on sweet potato mash, layer on chicken and greens. Top with slice of bread. Slice in half and serve.