Monday, October 26, 2009

TBG Eats: The NEW Parmesan Chicken Sandwich from Carl's Jr.

Current Weight: 167.8 lbs.

This past weekend, Mrs. Bootleg and I were discussing my family's upcoming visit to Stately Bootleg Manor for Thanksgiving. My mother has graciously offered to come down to San Diego a day early…so that she can "help" with the cooking.

Back when I was a morbidly obese pre-teen, my mom's kitchen skills belonged in the pantheon alongside those 49% offensive – 51% delicious products hawked by the greatest African-American caricature chefs of our time like
Ida Mae Butterworth or Booker T. Creamofwheatguy.

Her innocuous hospitality means enormous portions even for the littlest person at the table. When I brought Mrs. Bootleg up to meet my parents for the first time, my mom handed her a plate of meat loaf that weighed more than our son Jalen on the day he was born. (And, keep in mind: he was a preemie who was barely three pounds. I'm only slightly exaggerating about the meat loaf, people.)

My mom also slathers everything on your plate in homemade gravy – whether you want it or not. Today, no one who sees my wee physique believes that I weighed more in seventh grade than I do now. But, when you're 13-years-old and eating three smothered pork chops in single sitting (before seconds!) that'll happen.

I'll always remember two of my mom's meals from my childhood. The first is her fried chicken. I've written about this before, but it was the one meal we'd have at least once a week, every week. Consequently, I eat traditional on-the-bone fried chicken about once a year these days.

The second is her lasagna. As my dad wasn't a fan of, umm…"ethnic foods", we only got lasagna on me and my brother's birthday. A few years after I moved out, I began using a lasagna recipe that put my mom's to shame. I made it for her once and after the first bite, she didn't say another word throughout the rest of the meal. The look on her face was heartbreaking. The child had surpassed the parent. Here's a
little-seen indie movie clip that better articulates these subtle complexities.

Fried chicken and marinara sauce? Now, that's what I call segue!

Our friends at Carl's Jr. debuted their Parmesan Chicken Sandwich last Thursday. It's described as a "crispy chicken fillet with melted cheese and marinara sauce on a seeded bun". I'm sure that all my east coast readers are cringing at the thought of a fast food chain (!) from the west coast (!!!) serving up such an obvious knock-off product. But, the version here surprisingly…well, "acceptable".

The marinara sauce has more tang than you'd expect, but the spices are muddled and only sporadically come through. The mildly seasoned chicken breast is decently sized and occasionally, I'd get a few bites that came close to bringing all the flavors together. Of course you know that whatever "crispy" qualities the chicken fillet once had aren't anywhere to be found after it's drowned in sauce and processed cheese. But, that's true of every fast food "crispy" chicken sandwich, regardless of condiments.

Honestly, the sandwich's most surprising quality is its nutritional data. Considering its size, 570 calories and 20 grams of fat is pretty damn impressive. A large order of fries from CJ's checks in at 500 calories and 24 grams of fat.

Yes…I had fries with mine.

But, only a medium order, so there.

Grade: 3 (out of 5) Calories: 570 Fat: 20g


SHough610 said...

You spooked me about your mom losing her cooling fastball. My mom is not your typical Jewish mother except for two ways: guilt and the ability to cook so well that she could make a grown man cry.

Seriously, it's not just artery hardening traditional Jewish fare (matzo balls, noodle and potato kugel, etc) she makes a Hungarian brisket that would make you believe in God. She makes better red gravy than my Italian friends parents, and a blintz souflee that would stop your heart. Don't tell me she won't cook like this forever.

That Bootleg Guy said...

I seriously need more local Jewish friends whose families I can mooch meals from.

My mom can still bring it. Her prime rib at Xmas tastes like roasted angels. It's just that after I moved out, I realized that chicken didn't always have to be fried and gravy wasn't really a food group. Who knew?

Shough610 said...

I'll facebook message you my mom's brisket recipe. I have a feeling Mrs. Bootleg can do it justice.

Elena said...

You want to know Parmigianic joy? Check here:

I know eggplant doesn't sound that thrilling, but believe me, this KICKS ASS. It's so thin it gets crispier than any chicken parm could ever be, and it's all just a boatload of awesome.

You can check here for the sauce recipe, though you can use another if you prefer:

That Bootleg Guy said...

Dude, I **LOVE** eggplant parmigiana. Fairly certain I'm the only black guy that eats it.

Looks like I gotta whip out my man-apron and get to cookin'.

Elena said...

As long as it's a really tasteful apron with, like, boobs on it. Something subtle and classy, you know.