10 minute read

Chefs’ Tips and Tricks

CHEF’S TIPS & TRICKS Stack, Wrap, and Roll!

BY KEANE STRAUB I PHOTOGRAPHS BY DONG KIM amed after John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, an 18th N century English aristocrat, the concept of sandwiches has been around since ancient times. Through the years, people have discovered that almost anything is suitable for filling just about any kind of bread, making sandwiches a meal that anyone can have complete creative control over. We asked four Alberta chefs to give us their best take on a chicken (or turkey) sandwich, and we were thrilled to see such a diverse range of sensations – flavours and textures – so good! These may take a little more time than deli meats and cheese slices but remember - just because you might cut off the crusts, doesn’t mean you have to cut corners!

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If you’ve had a chance to check out Calgary’s Môt Tô, then you’ve probably spotted owner Chef Long in action as he serves up the restaurant’s modern takes on Vietnamese cuisine. The youngest of 10, Chef Long grew up in Vietnam surrounded by family who love to cook, and it was always a dream of his to open a restaurant to share the dishes he experienced in his youth.

Traditional dishes like spicy peanut sate pho and Viet subs from Môt Tô are some of his favourite. “The Viet sub is loaded with fresh veggies, and can use any protein,” he explains. “It’s perfect when I’m busy and can’t sit down for a meal.”

After noticing a serious lack of fried chicken sandwiches on Vietnamese menus, Chef Long created the recipe he’s shared here. It’s a take on Môt Tô’s wings, but without the bones, tucked into a baguette, a simple but elevated dish. “Don’t be afraid to try, even if you fail,” he adds. “You can still eat the dish without wasting it.”

Fried Fish Sauce Chicken Banh Mi

Serves 4

4-6 boneless chicken thighs, skin optional Garlic, crushed, to cover chicken thighs To taste salt and pepper 1/3 cup + 4 tsp (100 mL) fish sauce 2/3 cup of sugar 1 tsp ground chili 2 Tbs (30 mL) vinegar 2 cups all-purpose flour ¼ cup cornstarch 2 tsp salt 2 tsp garlic powder ½ tsp black pepper ¾ cup + 4 tsp (200 mL) cold water Oil for frying 1 baguette Mayonnaise, to spread on baguette Pickled carrots and daikon, thin sliced, for topping (soak in equal parts vinegar and sugar for 30 minutes minimum) Cucumber, cilantro, jalapeño for topping

1. Marinade chicken with crushed garlic, salt and pepper on both sides at least 2 hours. Set aside. 2. Put fish sauce, sugar, chili, and vinegar in a saucepan on medium heat, and cook stirring constantly to a light boil. Set aside to cool. 3. Mix flours, salt, garlic powder, and pepper together and add water. Stir until batter is smooth. 4. Submerge chicken in batter, making sure to completely cover it. 5. Heat oil to 300º F and fry battered chicken until light brown, about 6-7 minutes, or to an internal temperature of 165º F. 6. Fry chicken a second time at 375º F until golden brown, approximately 1-2 min. 7. Spread mayonnaise onto baguette and toast in oven for a few minutes. 8. Evenly coat chicken in sauce, and add cucumber, cilantro, jalapeño, and pickled veggies to your taste.

Edmonton’s Lock Stock Coffee boasts a menu that is a sandwich lover’s dream. There’s stackers fit for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and later, and they are anything but basic, thanks to Chef Julio. “My influences come from my home country of Brazil,” he explains, adding that travelling to culinary centres such as New York and Italy have played a part too.

And while Chef Julio insists you can’t go wrong with a BLT (he’s right, by the way), he says that no matter the filling, it’s the bread that counts. “It must be fresh. Either go to your local bakery who makes fresh bread daily or bake your own.”

The recipe he shares here uses homemade focaccia, which comes together with ease, but don’t skimp on the other components. “Use quality olive oil, fresh herbs, organic tomatoes, and chicken from your local butcher.”

Lock Stock Chicken Sandwich

Makes 2

Focaccia

13 cups flour 4 Tbs salt 1 Tbs dry yeast 7 cups (1¾ L) water Corn meal and olive oil for proofing Rosemary for garnish

1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and keep in the fridge around 6 hours. 2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and sprinkle on some corn meal and olive oil. 3. Spread the dough on the sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise for 3 hours. 4. After dough has risen, sprinkle with rosemary, salt, and olive oil, and bake at 450° F for 18 minutes. Chicken Sandwich

2-3 skinless boneless chicken thighs To taste salt and pepper 1 lemon, zested 1 garlic clove, crushed ½ tsp chilli flakes 1/3 cup (80 mL) olive oil Cherry tomatoes Arugula

1. In a bowl, mix chicken with seasoning, lemon zest, garlic, chili flakes, and olive oil, and let it sit for minimum 4 hours. Pre heat oven to 400° F. 2. Place chicken thighs flat on a baking sheet and bake in oven for approx 8-10 minutes. Flip and continue baking for another 8-10 minutes. Chicken should be tender and juicy. 3. Once cooked, pull chicken apart for your sandwiches. Balsamic Mayo

1½ tsp Dijon mustard 1½ cups (360 mL) mayo ¼ cup (60 mL) balsamic vinegar, reduced and thickened to a glaze

Mix all together to spread on focaccia. Will make plenty for additional sandwiches too!

To assemble sandwich:

Toast sliced focaccia and spread with balsamic mayo. Cover each sandwich with ½ cup of roast chicken, and top with cherry tomatoes and arugula.

Growing up, Chef Chandra Kant cooked alongside his parents, drawing inspiration from the flavours and spices around him. Over the years he mastered his skills and explored new ways to combine ingredients. Today, he continues to be inspired by “feeding good food to good people,” and you’ll find him doing just that at Edmonton’s Remedy Café.

Wraps take the lead on Remedy’s lunch menu, and Chef Chandra’s go-to is Aloo Ghobi, a potato and cauliflower curry rolled in a fresh-baked wrap. “It’s a very clean, healthy result that excites the tastebuds and fills the stomach!”

The same can be said about the recipe he’s shared, the Aloo Keema, or potato and ground turkey wrap. A customer fave that has been on the menu for years, it’s a perfect east-meets-west meal. It’s also simple enough for any at home chef – just keep an eye on your spices, says Chef Chandra. “The spices are what accentuate the cuisine, so overcooking them can equate to ruining the recipe.” Aloo Keema Wrap

Serves 2

2 medium potatoes 3 Tbs (45 mL) cooking oil (canola) ½ tsp cumin powder 1 tsp garlic, chopped 1 tsp ginger, chopped ½ tsp turmeric powder 1 tsp ground coriander To taste salt ½ tsp pepper or chili flakes 100 g ground turkey 25 g mixed beans 25 g green peas Pita breads, for the wrap Your choice of mayonnaise, mustard, or classic hummus Cilantro or parsley chopped, for garnish

1. Bring a pan of water to a boil and add potatoes. Boil potatoes until they are soft, approx 10 minutes. Cut the potatoes into cubes. 2. While potatoes are boiling place a pan on medium heat, let it heat up a little and add oil to your pan. Add cumin, chopped garlic and ginger, turmeric, coriander, salt and pepper or chili flakes. Stir spices in oil for 30-45 seconds. 3. Add ground turkey and cubed potatoes, let cook for 5-10 minutes on medium heat. 4. Add mixed beans and green peas. Continue to cook for 2 minutes. 5. Take your pita, and spread with your choice of mayonnaise, mustard, or classic hummus. Add your Aloo Keema to the centre of the pita. 6. Fold the left and right sides in towards the centre, then tuck the top of the wrap over, and finally tuck it again to finish the wrap. 7. You can either grill the wrap, or place the wrap back in the pan with a little oil to give the pita bread a nice crisp.

“My grandpa always told me to do something I love over money and unhappiness,” says Chef Joshua Carvelli of Calgary’s Sammie Café. “I’ve always had a passion for cooking, and it’s something I love.” Travelling around the world and working with different chefs have both influenced how he cooks. “Making someone happy by eating my food is what inspires me the most,” he adds.

The Jerk Chicken on Sammie’s menu is a favourite, and for which Chef Josh spent months curating the proper level of spice and testing numerous peppers and flavour profiles. “People tell me that it reminds them of home,” he says.

With that feeling of comfort in mind, Chef Josh has shared his recipe for Buffalo Chicken Caesar Wraps. “Growing up there was lots of times I would cook for my family or siblings while my parents were at work, and I found that I could easily make these wraps.” Good quality wraps are a must, and you can grill the chicken instead of frying if you prefer, but Chef Josh reminds you “Just don’t overcook it!”

Buffalo Chicken Caesar Wraps

Makes 4 wraps

450 g Chicken breasts, sliced into strips 2 cups (500 mL) buttermilk 2 Tbs (30 mL) hot sauce 1 cup four ½ cup cornstarch 1 Tbs paprika 1 Tbs cumin 1 Tbs cayenne powder 1 Tbs garlic powder 1 tsp black pepper 1 Tbs kosher salt Oil for frying 1. Soak the chicken in the buttermilk and hot sauce for 2 hours or overnight. 2. Mix flour, cornstarch, and spices in a bowl and set aside. 3. Dredge chicken in the flour, coating well. Shake off excess and dip in the buttermilk, then back in the flour mix. 4. Check oil temperature with a thermometer - should be around 365/375º F, add about 5 pieces at a time and cook until golden brown on one side, about 5-8 minutes. Turn and repeat until all browned, and to an inside temp at the thickest part of 165º F. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with a little more salt if needed.

Caesar Salad

4 anchovies packed in oil 2 medium garlic cloves 1 large egg yolk 2 Tbs (30 mL) fresh lemon juice 1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard 4 Tbs grated parmesan cheese 1/3 cup (80 mL) canola oil plus more as needed To taste salt and black pepper Lettuce

1. Mince the anchovies and garlic into small bits. Using the side of the knife mash them into a very fine paste by pushing and pulling the mound of anchovies and garlic across the cutting board. Set aside. 2. In a medium bowl whisk the egg yolk, lemon juice, and mustard together until frothy. Placing a dishcloth underneath the bowl helps to steady it as you whisk. 3. Whisk with one hand, and slowly stream in the oil with the other hand. Add the oil in tiny drips and as you whisk in, the mixture will start to lighten in colour and thicken. When the oil has been added, check the consistency. If it’s too thick, whisk in a teaspoon or so of water. If it’s too thin, continue to whisk and stream in a little more oil. 4. Finish by whisking in the mashed anchovies, garlic, parmesan cheese. Taste and generously season with salt and pepper. 5. Chop lettuce of choice and add to a bowl with the dressing. You can add any toppings you want such as more cheese, bacon, croutons, etc.

Warm the wrap for 15 seconds in the microwave to help make the wrapping easier. Add caesar salad and chicken and roll up. For a fun twist, sear the wrap in a dry pan until brown.

Keane Straub has travelled from Tofino to Charlottetown, sampling the different flavours Canada offers. The passion people have for their craft and culture inspires Keane to tell their stories.