Jimmy Papadopoulos

Jimmy Papadopoulos

Rising Star Chef of Bellemore, Chicago
Cooktracks — Jimmy Papadopoulos

‘Fire-Bird’ Chicken Sandwich

Chef Jimmy Papadopoulos 'Fire Bird' Chicken Sandwich

Cook like a pro as this Chicago Rising Star Chef of Bellemore Restaurant teaches you his crispy secrets for his ‘Fire-Bird’ Chicken Sandwich with homemade fried onion ranch.

COOK’S NOTE: The chicken must be brined 6 hours ahead of cooking time.

If you’re cooking along with us at home, find the ingredient and preparation list below, or listen and enjoy for your next meal inspiration.

Makes 4 Sandwiches


  • 4 pieces boneless skin-on chicken thighs
  • 4 quarts neutral oil, for frying, such as canola oil

For the Brine:

  • 1 cup pickle juice, kosher dill preferred, strained
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

For the Ranch Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup white onion, chunk or diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, cracked from their skin
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1.5 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh chives, finely sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons scallions, green and/or white, minced

For the Hot Paste:

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1.5 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder

For the Fried Shallots:

  • 1 cup shallots, thinly sliced (shave shallots as thin as possible on Japanese mandoline or slice by hand)
  • 1 cup canola oil

For the Breading:

  • 1-2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons dill, dried
  • 2 Tablespoons fine salt

For Assembly:

  • 4 brioche style buns
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup romaine lettuce, thinly sliced/shredded
  • 4 Tablespoons mayo
  • 8 thin slices from a ripe tomato
  • 16 pickle slices, thin sliced
  • Instant Read Thermometer 
  • Heavy Bottom 6-8 qt. Dutch Oven Pot (for frying) or tabletop deep fryer
  • Japanese mandoline (or a sharp knife)
  • Blender or food processor 
  • 2 Small pots or skillets
  • Medium to large size nonstick skillet
  • Miscellaneous mixing bowls and plates
  • Cooking utensils, such as tongs, spatula and a small whisk


For the Chicken:
Combine all brine ingredients and whisk until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Refrigerate the brine until cold and ready to use. Add the chicken thighs to the brine or cover the chicken with the brine and store in the refrigerator for approximately 6 hours. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Allow the chicken to rest in the refrigerator for about an hour (out of the brine).

For the Ranch:
To the blender, add the buttermilk, onion, garlic, Worcestershire, celery salt and garlic salt and blend until smooth. Add in the sour cream and mayo and blend for a few seconds and then add in the cream cheese and vinegar, season with black pepper and blend until smooth. Taste, season with touch more salt, if desired, and reserve in the refrigerator. When ready to use, stir in the fresh minced herbs.

For the Hot Paste:
Always use caution when working with hot oil. Place a small pot or skillet over low to medium heat and add the oil. Bring oil to approximately 180-200 degrees and add the spices and salt while stirring. Turn off the heat and stir constantly, while toasting the spices, for about 1 minute. Transfer to another small pot or heat-proof bowl to allow to come to room temperature (and store at room temperature).

For the Fried Shallots:
Place shallots in a small saucepot or skillet, cover with oil, turn the heat to high and fry until lightly golden brown, STIRING CONTINUOUSLY, about 3-5 minutes. Remove shallots using tongs or a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Reserve at room temperature until ready to use.

To Bread and Cook the Chicken:
Always use caution when working with hot oil. Preheat oil in a large  6-8 quart Dutch oven (or using a tabletop deep fryer) to 340°F.

Remove chicken from the refrigerator and make sure it is dry. Add 1-2 cups buttermilk to a large mixing bowl. In another large mixing bowl, add the flour, cornstarch, dill and salt and stir to combine. Dip the chicken into the buttermilk, then toss into the flour, one piece at a time, really working to massage the breading into the chicken and transfer to a plate. Repeat this step with the remaining thigh(s).

Shake off the excess flour and gently drop the chicken thighs in the hot oil and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until the breading is golden and the internal temperature of the chicken registers at 155°F at the thickest part. Carry-over cooking will occur to bring the temperature up when it is removed from the oil.   

Tip: If cooking multiple chicken thighs, do not crowd the cooking vessel and be sure to cook in batches. If doing so, in order to keep the cooked chicken warm, set your oven to 200°F and crack the door slightly. Place cooked chicken on a rack set over a baking sheet and place in the warm oven while you cook the remaining pieces.

To Assemble:
Place a medium or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spread the cut side of the rolls with butter and gently toast in the skillet to warm. Remove from the pan and reserve.

Toss the shredded lettuce with 1/4 cup (or more if you prefer) of ranch and add in a good amount of the fried shallots (to your discretion).

Once the chicken is cooked, stir the hot paste and gently drizzle some over your chicken, as little or as much as you prefer. Spread 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise on each bottom bun, top with two slices of tomato, 4 slices of pickles and the chicken thigh. Pile on the romaine, and more ranch if you want, and the bun top and enjoy!

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