Spicy chicken sandwich with a twist

Led by Chef Nathaniel Zimet, the team at Boucherie took home the prize for Best Poboy in the Poultry Category at the 2018 Poboy Festival. The sandwich was named after Kelsey Green, a chef that worked with Nathanial in the kitchen back in 2018.

“Kelsey has a love affair with cheese,” Zimet said, “and there’s nothing better than an ooey gooey sandwich. I love spice and adding the charred broccoli rabe really helps round the flavors.”

I will admit to some skepticism with this recipe. The ingredients are disparate and the whole thing just seemed weird but in the end the flavors harmonize incredibly well to form an explosion of exciting taste and textures.

  1. Don’t feel like making Candied jalapeños? Ragin’ Cajun brand makes a good substitute, available at Rouses Markets. Trader Joe’s also makes a house brand of Hot & Sweet Jalapeños, also good. Looking to shortcut that Alabama White Barbecue Sauce? Duke’s brand makes a good substitute, available at Rouses Market.
  2. Rapini and broccoli rabe are the same thing. I found it at Whole Foods. Mustard greens are a good substitute.
  3. Chihuahua cheese is available at Hispanic markets, such as Ideal Market or in the Hispanic cheese section Walmart. Shredded mozzarella is an acceptable substitute.

The Kelsey

Adapted from Chef Nathaniel Zimet, Boucherie
Serves 4

Candied jalapenos (see Notes):
5 jalapenos, sliced in 1/4-inch rounds (remove seeds if less heat is desired)
1 cup sugar
2 cups unsweetened apple juice
1/4 bunch fresh thyme leaves (Zimet likes to keep the stems on for more flavor. This also makes it easier to remove before serving).

  1. Stir together the sugar, apple juice, and thyme sprigs (whole sprigs make it easier to remove at the end of cooking) in a pan set over high heat. Bring to a quick boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer until the sugar dissolves into a gooey syrup, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the jalapeno pepper slices and mix to evenly coat them with the syrup.
  3. Simmer them about 4 minutes. They will darken a bit as they slightly cook and absorb some of the sugars.
  4. Remove the thyme sprigs.
  5. Transfer the candied jalapeno peppers to a clean 1-pint jar then fill the jar with the remaining syrup. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Alabama white barbecue sauce (see Notes):

1 medium sweet onion, peeled, and cut in half
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/4 cup spicy vinegar, such as Lilly’s Q Hot Pepper Vinegar
1 Tablespoons onion powder

1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon MSG
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

  1. Pre-heat a broiler to high.
  2. Place the onion halves, cut side up, on a small, rimmed baking sheet. Char the onion until is almost fully black, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  3. Add the onion and remaining ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth. Scrape the mixture into a sealed jar and refrigerate until ready to use. Can be made one week in advance.


1 Tablespoon paprika
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1 Tablespoons garlic powder
4 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  1. Combine all dry ingredients to create a dry rub. Rub the blend generously over the chicken. Marinate overnight.
  2. Prepare a grill for direct cooking. Alternately, heat a 10-inch cast iron pan until smoking. Add the chicken and cook until charred, turning halfway through, about four minutes per side.

Charred rapini (aka broccoli rabe):

1 head raw garlic, peeled
1 cup canola oil
8 ounces rapini, washed and dried
salt and pepper

  1. Add the garlic and the oil to a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside. Season the rapini with salt and pepper. Char on a grill or under a broiler, about 2 minutes. Bruch with the reserved garlic oil and char for an additional 10 seconds. Remove from heat and chop into bite-sized pieces. Reserve the remaining oil.


4 7-inch French loaves, preferably from Dong Phuong Bakery
8 ounces shredded Chihuahua cheese (see Notes)

Assemble the sandwiches:

  1. Split the bread loaves in half lengthwise, taking care not to cut all the way through. Brush the cut surfaces with the garlic oil. Grill or broil the bread with the cut surfaces facing the heat source until toasted.
  2. Spread each of the cut surfaces with the Alabama barbecue sauce.
  3. Among the four sandwiches divide the chicken, rapini, and cheese. Grill or broil under gentle heat until the cheese is melted. Top with candied jalapeños. Serve with additional Alabama barbecue sauce.

Ooey Gooey

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