Virginia Beach “Mexican” White Sauce and Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwiches

Lately, the barre bro’s been more of a blob bro – skipping barre classes to eat McDonald’s and cook really unhealthy food. And, well, none of that changed this past weekend.

I grew up in Virginia Beach which, if you’re unfamiliar, is a sprawling suburban place with an economy supported mostly by tourism and the Navy. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the Mexican restaurants in the area there serve a peculiar but delicious white sauce that I didn’t realize was unusual for Mexican restaurants, and recently this story about that white sauce has been all over my Facebook.

White sauce

So, remembering how delicious it was, I decided to try making it and see if it was actually delicious like I remembered, or if it was one of those childhood nostalgia things that you realize as a grown-up is actually kind of mediocre (I’m looking at you Famous Dave’s).

Now the article featured this handwritten recipe from the 1970s and I have to admit I was a bit suspicious. I’m generally wary of old-ass recipes that have been “handed-down” for generations. If there’s one thing that the internet has done, it’s providing tons of information to people who test things to make constant improvements. So I also looked up a few blogs, and found that the two recipes I found here and here both seemed to stick pretty closely to the original recipe. Also, one of the bloggers was from Virginia, which helped my confidence in the recipe.

Now the recipe itself… the first thing that caught my eye was.. 32 oz. of Miracle Whip?? Holy fuck, I’ve never even bought Miracle Whip before, much less used 4 cups of it in a single recipe. Who the hell is making this stuff in those quantities at home? But whatever, I decided to try out this version of the recipe and off to the grocery store I went.

I definitely raised my eyebrow when I saw pimento-stuffed olives on the recipe list. The heck is that? Would I be able to find it? I guess I always ignored the jarred olive section of the grocery store, because it turns out there is an ENTIRE WALL of stuff I can only categorize as “weird shit stuffed into olives.” All different kinds of cheeses, garlic, gummy bears, who knows what else they’re stuffing into olives. I don’t even like olives. But yes, it turns out finding pimento stuffed olives is very easy – the hardest thing was figuring out which type of olive I wanted stuffed with pimento cheese. So I just grabbed one. I also picked up some backup hot pico in case the recipe failed and I ended up with a giant quantity of useless fatty white stuff, not unlike the current contents of the White House.

Easiest recipe ever – just throw everything in a food processor and spin until smooth. I don’t have a Cuisinart, but I do have a Ninja blender – I guess the name appealed to my Asian heritage.

Now it’s sitting in my fridge where I’m supposed to let it sit for two days. So I can’t even tell you yet if it was good or not…

On to the main event – fried chicken sandwich Sundays! Again, how awesome is the internet? Two decades ago you had to hope Alton Brown just happened to air the episode you wanted to experiment with – now you can look up multiple Serious Eats articles on fried chicken sandwiches. I found two versions – an easy five-ingredient one, and a much more intricate chik-fil-a copy cat one. I also looked up a few spicy fried chicken recipes, because I much prefer spicy fried chicken sandwiches to plain ones. And I ended up somewhere in the middle of all the recipes I found.

I decided to experiment with thighs brined in pickle juice and breasts brined in Kenji’s copycat recipe, about four hours each. I doubt the thighs even needed it, because chicken thighs are the food loophole of the fucking century – cheap, delicious, forgiving to cook, delicious reheated, and most importantly, keto-friendly! But these giant steroid-enhanced breasts we have these days would definitely be helped with a brining.

Seriously, those two breasts on the right are actually half a breast each. And even then, I totally underestimated how huge they would be once battered and fried. I seasoned all the chicken, then sprinkled additional cayenne powder on the chicken. I also threw a tablespoon of cayenne each into the buttermilk wash and the flour. Also, the flour is actually 1.5 cups flour and 1.5 cups corn starch, because corn starch in the truth if you want really crispy batter.

This was my first time deep-frying with an electric range, and I was pretty concerned with how I was going to control the temperature. Also, those fucking breasts were huge, even after I pounded them flat a bit. So I actually had the oil up to about 420 degrees before I dropped the first breast.

Now I’m definitely not an experienced deep fryer, so the oil temp didn’t drop nearly as much as I expected (32 oz. of peanut oil). I kept waiting for it to get closer to 350, but it held around 400-410 the whole time – way too hot.

I took it out after the recommended 5 minutes and yep – oil was way too hot. Also, again, totally underestimated how fucking thick these things were, which made me concerned about the internal temperature.

Yep – fuck no, way undercooked, back in the fryer you go for another 2.5 minutes at least. This one was definitely a waste – once cooked through, I was about to make four dogs really really happy.

Round 2 was much better – I let the oil chill down to about 360, dropped the chicken, and it held just under 350 – exactly what you want!

Fuck yeah! That’ what I’m talking about! Internal temp was 165 on the dot at the thickest point. The result? The brining made a huge difference in texture – outside was crispy, inside was juicy. One failure point – not spicy at all! So I ended up dousing it in Cholula. I still have no idea how to make these things spicy – maybe it’s because my cayenne powder was probably like two years old at this point? Or maybe I didn’t use enough? Maybe I’ll brine these things in jalapeno juice next time? Will need to keep investigating…

Seriously these things are huge. The potato roll barely had a chance.

This one’s heart-shaped, because I love you Callie! Happy anniversary! (Sorry, I keep forgetting you don’t eat meat – here are some carrots).

top left – the first failure that I had to re-fry. The others are chicken thighs.

The thigh meat ones were even better – I had one this morning. 2 minutes in the air fryer before sandwiching completely undid the damage of being refrigerated overnight. Also, I love pickles now. Growing up is appreciating pickles on your sandwiches instead of picking them out like a child.

I actually wrapped them in foil and threw in the toaster oven for three minutes, to replicate the slight steaming effect that those chik-fil-a foil bags have on their sandwiches – I doubt that was by design, but it’s something I’ve grown fond of.

Next week, maybe I’ll (re)start my keto diet!

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