Less than a week ago a little piece of Seattle died. First reported by Seattle Met, rumors of the hows and whys of Paseo Caribbean’s doors suddenly closing swirled throughout the city’s innerwebs. Rather than retreating into a back room in the fetal position, I spent this evening developing, changing, adapting and creating a recipe for my favorite chicken breast sandwich that’s nearly identical to my Paseo favorite.
I know, I know – everyone raves about the succulent slow-roasted pork sandwich (and the internet’s suddenly full of recipes that likely come close to the original), but the chicken breast sandwich will go down in history as my personal favorite.
Cuban-Inspired Chicken Breast Sandwich
(an homage to Paseo)
I like to use chicken tenders as – just as they sound – they’re tender and delicious (and if you’re a purist, I’m sorry – just use a breast instead).
For three sandwiches, 9 tenders are needed. Place separately in a ziplock bag and carefully pound to 1/4″. Marinade 3-6 hours.
1/2 cup orange juice
4 tbsp mango juice (or mashed, fresh mango)
6 crushed cloves of garlic
4 dashes of cayenne
salt and pepper to your preference
A dash of cinnamon
One serrano chile – thinly sliced
1/8 cup olive oil
Create garlic aioli:
Combine the following –
1/2 cup mayonnaise (do notuse Miracle Whip, for the love of god!)
1/2 of the gooey innards of the roasted garlic
2 fresh garlic cloves – crushed
2 dashes of cayenne
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
Begin with a crusty baguette (I prefer Grand Central Bakery’s petite baguette’s, but if you’re a purist you may prefer to select something from Macrina Bakery in Paseo’s honor).
Slice the baguette into 6″-8″ length, then cut lengthwise being careful to leave a secure “hinge” on one side (this is a critical step, as it helps to contain the gooey goodness once the sandwich is made).
Brush both sides with butter, then slather one side of each with the remaining roasted garlic and set aside.
Prepare onions and cook chicken:
Peel and thickly-slice two large onions (I prefer a 1/2″ slice). Place flat-side down on a med-high grill (a large pancake-cooking griddle works perfectly for this). Once they’ve developed a deep brown color, flip and repeat on the other side. After both side are browned, gently break apart with tongs or spatula and push to the side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and mix with a crushed clove of garlic.
Building your sandwich:
Place warm, garlic-laden baguette on a plate.
Slather one side heavily with the garlic aioli mix.
Place a healthy heap of grilled onions on opposite side of baguette.
Nestle 2-3 grilled chicken tenders on the bed of onions.
Use the aioli as a base to glue 4-8 jalapeños (to taste) to one-half of the baguette.
Moving the two halves of the baguette towards each other, imprison a small handful of cilantro and one lettuce leaf in the middle of the sandwich.
Diaper entire sandwich in parchment or waxed-paper and tightly secure.
Eat – with many napkins!
Note: If you have access to a hot-fired grill, both the onions and chicken can be quickly grilled over a hot flame for even more flavor!