The title of this sandwich blog post might make you think I’m going to be writing about some sort of sports team from Alabama that wears green and white uniforms. Perhaps maybe the Alabama Creamed Collards minor league baseball team that is fake and that I just totally made up? While the merchandise for the Creamed Collards has the potential to be amazing, I unfortunately am not writing about them.
Instead, I’m writing about a sandwich just like I do every week. If you want weekly sandwich emails sent to your inbox for free subscribe now!
What is this sandwich?
This is a sandwich with a grilled chicken thigh (or boneless chicken breast piece) that has been slathered in a white creamy and tangy sauce and placed alongside a crispy and crunchy fried green tomato. Oh, and don’t forget the handful of shredded lettuce. 🥬
Alabama white barbecue sauce was invented to be used on smoked chicken, but it is very enjoyable on grilled chicken as well. So that’s what I decided to make this week and use it to sauce up grilled chicken thighs. Since I was already making ingredients from the South—focused on a sauce from Alabama—I found a couple of green tomatoes at my local farmer’s market and bought them with the intention to fry a few slices for use in the sandwich.
But first, we need bread.
The soft bun
For this sandwich, I felt I should lean towards a pretty soft bun so I selected and made my Super soft potato buns v2 recipe. This is my go-to bun recipe for cheeseburger buns now. I have four different versions of burger-style buns on the site currently with an additional two more recipes that I think would work great on sandwiches like this one. Since I have so many similar types of buns, I figured I would do a very basic rundown of what they are.
|Simple soft hamburger buns||This recipe requires just six ingredients. You likely have most of them already in your pantry.|
|Super soft potato buns v1||This original version of my potato bun requires liquid milk instead of dry milk powder.|
|Super soft potato buns v2||This is my favorite potato bun recipe. It requires dry milk powder instead of liquid milk. This is the bun I used for this sandwich.|
|Japanese milk bread buns (tangzhong method)||This version is very soft and requires a process where you cook a small portion of flour and water prior to the dough mixing process.|
|Hawaiian sweet sandwich buns||The addition of pineapple juice makes these buns a bit sweeter in flavor. This is a very similar recipe to potato bun v2.|
|Brioche buns||A very buttery and enriched dough makes for a rich final bread roll.|
More bun recipes discussion
I don’t always have milk in my refrigerator and special dry milk, or powdered milk has a long unrefrigerated shelf life so I have entirely stopped using the v1 recipe of my potato buns. Most of my dough making happens in the very early morning and I’m not always excited about cooking the tangzhong or else I would probably make those more often. The simple soft hamburger bun recipe is a good one, but it’s missing the potato flour and dry milk powder which both work well to make a softer and longer-lasting bun.
In other words, if you’re wanting to start baking buns or improve your simple sandwich buns, you should check out the soft potato buns v2 recipe or the milk bread bun recipe. Both are great and the dough is easy to work with and it produces soft buns that should last at least a week, bagged up on your counter.
I have written a Buns 101 blog post before where I lay out some of the best tips I’ve learned for baking your own burger buns. But there are a couple that I think are important enough to share or expand upon again now.
The first tip I want to share about bun making is to make sure that your dough has been thoroughly mixed and kneaded to introduce as much gluten into the dough as possible. This means if you are using a stand mixer to mix the dough, attempt to knead for the full time in the recipe. There have been times when I was in a hurry and didn’t go the full 8 minutes of mixing and felt I could tell the difference in how the dough was slack and didn’t rise up enough for the final bun.
The second bun tip to remember is to make sure you keep the top of your shaped buns as taut as you can. If you bake buns and your end result happens to be lumpy, it’s likely that you’re not keeping the top of each dough ball tight enough. You need to make sure that your round buns are super tight on the top and you can encourage buns to be this way by rolling them under a cupped hand or two cupped hands on your counter or kneading surface. While you’re rolling the buns into a tight ball, make sure you consistently are tucking the dough under itself to help tighten up the top to end up with a ball with a taut top.
I shared a video of how I make buns using the Simple soft hamburger bun recipe that you can watch if you’re a visual learner.
Here’s my soft potato bun v2 recipe for you to try. Let me know how it turns out. Apparently, I’m on all the social media platforms these days and you can probably find me.
Now that we have a great bun let’s work on some fried green tomato slices.
Fried green tomatoes
What are green tomatoes?
A green tomato is a normal tomato that was picked before it was fully ripe. You do need to be a little careful when buying these though, because there are some heirloom varieties that are meant to be green-colored when they are ripe. The type of tomatoes we are talking about today is firmer than a ripe, red tomato and that firmness is what allows a slice to be coated and fried.
An unripe green tomato isn’t just firmer than a red tomato, it also has a much tarter flavor than the tomatoes that you might be used to.
You can buy green tomatoes at farmer’s markets or specialty grocery stores. My normal grocery store does have them typically, but not always. In my experience where I live, they are more likely to be available in the late summer or late spring.
This might shock you, but fried green tomatoes are not of Southern origin. According to this post about fried green tomatoes from Bon Appetit, recipes for these fried slices first show up in the 1870s. The cookbooks they appeared in were from the Northeast and Midwest regions of the United States. This doesn’t mean that you won’t find fried green tomatoes on lots of menus throughout the Southeastern US though.
For you young folks: a movie released in 1991 called Fried Green Tomatoes was based on a book titled Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. The Whistle Stop Cafe in the book is a totally made-up restaurant that is loosely based on a real restaurant in Irondale, Alabama near where the author, Fannie Flagg, grew up called the Irondale Cafe. Fried green tomatoes were a well-known and well-liked dish at the Irondale Cafe when Flagg would visit and the restaurant is still serving them today.
How to fry green tomatoes
Fried green tomatoes are typically lightly coated in flour and then dunked in a buttermilk and egg mixture before being dredged into seasoned cornmeal and/or breadcrumb dry mix. This leaves your tomatoes cooked through but still battered with a crisp and crunchy outer crust.
Once the tomato slices have passed through each of the dredging stations they should be fully coated with cornmeal and breadcrumbs with no wet spots visible.
I fry them at around 350 F / 175 C until the outside is nice and golden brown or around 3 to 4 minutes per side. This is vegetable frying and not raw meat frying, so you just want to get the outside color to the point where it looks brown, crunchy, and tasty.
Make sure to sprinkle a tiny bit of salt on the tomatoes immediately after removing them from the hot oil. The salt will adhere best at this point.
I made a stand-alone recipe for my fried green tomato slices, but all the ingredients and instructions are ALSO in the full recipe for the full sandwich down below.
Now that we’ve discussed green tomatoes I want to talk about the chicken and sauce.
Mayonnaise marinated grilled chicken thighs
Typically, if you’re serving chicken with Alabama white sauce, you’d be serving chicken pieces that were smoked from whole chickens. We’re not doing that for this sandwich. These are just grilled chicken thighs, or you could use grilled boneless chicken breasts as well. I made this sandwich four or five times during the testing process and I grilled two thigh pieces on a stovetop grill pan and I grilled the rest over charcoal outside.
For these pieces of chicken, I chose to use a marinade tip that I found in a YouTube video about grilled chicken that I shared above from Ethan Chlebowski. In that video, Ethan talks about why mayonnaise is better to use in a marinade for meat than just olive or vegetable oil and seasonings. You can watch the video and learn a lot about grilling chicken, but I will sum up the bullet points of what he says here:
Why use mayo in the marinade?
- Mayonnaise helps encourage browning on the exterior of the chicken.
- It helps the chicken to stick to the pan less.
- Allows all spices to adhere to the piece of chicken without falling off.
Mayonnaise is simply an emulsification of vegetable oil and eggs with seasonings like salt and even mustard included for additional flavor, so you’ve already got a boost over plain oil. Add in the fact that you can clearly see the mayonnaise-based marinade sticking to the skin throughout the cooking process and I think you’ve got a real winner here.
I really think this mayonnaise-based marinade technique really works well and I plan to keep using it because it’s easy and it just works. I guess this sandwich is heavy on the mayo because now we need to talk about the sauce.
What is Alabama white sauce?
When I first learned about it several years ago, I was very skeptical about Alabama white sauce. The idea of mayonnaise in a barbecue sauce is just nuts even if it’s primarily used on chicken and not pork or beef. But after tasting it and thinking about it quite a bit, it makes a ton of sense. Alabama white sauce makes even more sense when you incorporate it into a sandwich with chicken.
The primary flavors of Alabama white sauce are mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, and ground black pepper. After these three ingredients, you do end up adding garlic powder and prepared horseradish, but the first three ingredients drive the bus.
Lillie’s Q, a barbecue joint near me in Chicago, wrote about 6 Ways to Use Alabama White Sauce which I felt was well worth sharing. The two suggested uses that I thought were best (other than on smoked or grilled chicken) was to use Alabama white sauce as the base for a coleslaw recipe and to use it for dipping. This sauce has the perfect amount of creaminess and tang from vinegar to work great in a slaw. And potato chips or french fries are great dipped in this sauce.
Alabama white and green sandwich recipe
Test version without fried green tomato
First, I made this sandwich as a sort of test to ensure that I really liked my Alabama white sauce on a grilled chicken sandwich. I did not spend the time frying up green tomatoes for these first couple of sandwiches. Turns out to be a really good sandwich.
Add the fried green tomato
This brought more crunch to the sandwich than I expected. For the best results, make sure if you are making this sandwich that you eat your fried green tomatoes on the day that you fry them. They are perfectly edible when reheated, but they simply do not crisp up again.
Here’s the full recipe for my Alabama white and green sandwich. You just need a bun, and this recipe covers the Alabama white sauce, grilled chicken, and fried green tomato ingredients and instructions.
This sandwich combines a creamy and tangy, tender piece of chicken with a crunchy, tart fried green tomato slice into a sandwich that dreams are made of.
Ingredients:Marinated grilled chicken
- 4 chicken thighs or breast pieces
- 1⁄4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 large green tomato
- 1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
- 3⁄4 cup buttermilk
- 1 large whole egg
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce (optional)
- 1⁄2 cup cornmeal
- 1⁄4 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- vegetable oil for frying (1-inch up the side of your pan)
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1⁄2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- pinch of cayenne pepper powder (optional)
- 4 sandwich buns
- 4 pieces of grilled chicken (from above)
- Alabama white sauce (from above)
- lettuce (optional)
- 4 fried green tomato slices (from above)
Marinate chicken: add mayonnaise to a small bowl or plate. Mix salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika into the mayonnaise and stir until everything is combined. With your hands, rub the mayonnaise-based marinade onto each piece of chicken. You can do this in a zip-top bag or right in the bowl where you made the marinade. Just make sure the chicken is fully coated. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.
Fried green tomatoes: preheat oven to 200 F (93 C).
Get three bowls or pans to set up your dredging station. One bowl/pan will contain the all-purpose flour and Cajun seasoning. The second bowl will contain the buttermilk, egg, and hot sauce (if using). The third bowl will be the corn meal, breadcrumbs, salt, and black pepper.
Over medium-high heat, place a medium pot or pan with 1 to 2 inches of vegetable oil. A thermometer will help because we're trying to get it to 350 degrees F (175 C).
While the oil is heating up, slice your green tomato and lightly salt the slices. Bring them to your dredging stations.
Each green tomato slice needs to be coated in the first bowl with the seasoned flour, then the second bowl with the buttermilk and egg mixture, and then finally coated fully with the cornmeal and breadcrumbs. During each station/bowl you need full coverage. No dry or wet spots. Make sure everything is fully coated in each bowl.
Leave each tomato slice in the last bowl with the cornmeal and breadcrumbs until the oil is to temperature.
When the oil is hot, place two or three coated green tomato slices in the oil. Do not crowd the pan with too many tomato slices, fry in batches if you need to.
Fry for 2 to 3 minutes until the coated slices have the proper color of browning and then remove to a cooling rack in a sheet pan or a paper towel lined plate.
After the tomato slices have cooled for about five minutes move them to a sheet pan and then into the preheated oven to stay warm while you grill the chicken.
Alabama white sauce: add mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, ground black pepper, garlic powder, sugar, prepared horseradish, salt, and lemon juice to a medium sized bowl and whisk until everything is combined fully. This is your Alabama white sauce. Add to a sealed container and store in the refrigerator for around a week or so.
Grill chicken: preheat grill for 10 minutes.
Pull chicken out of the container with the marinade and cook on grill grates for 4 to 5 minutes per side for thighs and 5 to 6 minutes per side for chicken breasts. If you have very large chicken breasts you might want to grill for 7 minutes. If you have a probe thermometer you should be looking for 165 degrees F (73 C). You should be able to pull the chicken off the grill 5 degrees less than your target temperature and it will carry over cook those extra degrees.
Once the chicken has cooked on both sides, remove it from the grill to a plate to rest. While the chicken is resting you can get everything ready to build your sandwich.
Toast your buns if desired.
Sandwich assembly: add a tablespoon or two of Alabama white sauce to the top of each of your grilled chicken thighs or breasts. Using a spoon, make sure each piece is fairly coated with sauce.
Add a tablespoon of Alabama white sauce to the bottom of each bun. Top the sauce with chopped lettuce.
Add your Alabama white sauce coated piece of chicken onto the bed of lettuce and top the chicken with a fried green tomato slice.
Cover everything up with the top bun and serve.
Check back next week
I’ll be writing about some more vegetables for sure.
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