Buffalo Chicken Panini with Blue Cheese-Celery Slaw
Mugs of ice-cold beer are the perfect accompaniment to these hearty chicken sandwiches.
For the buffalo sauce:
- 1/2 cup Crystal hot sauce
- 2 Tbs. Sriracha chili sauce
- 1 Tbs. Tabasco sauce
- 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
For the blue cheese dressing:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
- 1 to 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
For the blue cheese-celery slaw:
- 12 oz. celery stalks, thinly sliced on the bias
- 4 oz. carrots, peeled and julienned
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, green portion only
- 4 pieces ciabatta bread, each 3 1/2 inches long, halved horizontally
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each 6 to 8 oz., tenders removed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Canola oil for frying
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 4 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
To make the buffalo sauce, in a large bowl, whisk together the hot sauce, chili sauce, Tabasco and lemon juice until combined. While whisking, pour in the melted butter in a slow, steady stream. Set the buffalo sauce aside.
To make the blue cheese dressing, in a food processor, combine the mayonnaise, buttermilk, blue cheese and vinegar and pulse until blended (the dressing does not have to be completely smooth). Transfer to a bowl.
To make the blue cheese-celery slaw, in a bowl, combine the celery, carrots, green onions and 1/4 cup of the blue cheese dressing. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Pull out some of the bread from the ciabatta pieces, leaving a 1/2-inch layer. Set aside.
Butterfly the chicken breasts and cut them in half. Using a meat pounder, gently pound them to an even thickness. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.
Preheat an oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, pour in oil to a depth of 1/4 to 1/2 inch and heat to 350°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Divide the flour between 2 bowls. Put the eggs in another bowl.
Dredge the chicken in one bowl of flour, shaking off the excess. Dip into the eggs, letting the excess drip off. Toss the chicken in the other bowl of flour to coat evenly, shaking off the excess. Working in 2 batches, fry the chicken in the hot oil, turning once, until browned and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to the paper towel-lined baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.
Preheat a panini press on the panini setting according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on the bottom halves of the bread. Place 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the buffalo sauce in a bowl. Toss the chicken in the sauce, then place the chicken on top of the cheese. Cover the sandwiches with the top halves of the bread.
Place 2 of the sandwiches on the panini press, close the lid, and cook until the bread is crisp and the cheese is melted, about 4 minutes. Transfer the sandwiches to a platter. Repeat to cook the remaining sandwiches. Open the sandwiches, drizzle the chicken with some of the buffalo sauce and top with the slaw. Smear 1 to 2 Tbs. blue cheese dressing on the inside of the top bread slices, then close the sandwiches. Serve immediately with additional blue cheese dressing and buffalo sauce on the side. Serves 4.