It’s that time of year. All of us basil growers are all staring at these plants like, “you’re going to be pesto soon if I can’t come up with something else.”
I have a number of really great (non-pesto) recipes for basil in my back pocket—at least one of which should be up here soon—but in the meantime this is a great use for basil that’s not so off the beaten pesto-path without being so mundanely soul-sucking that you don’t feel guilty for reducing those poor plants to the most basic product.
This chicken sandwich—and just no ordinary chicken sandwich—is delicious, in part due to the basil mayonnaise that’s slathered inside of it. There’s about 24-hour lead time on starting the basil mayo to finished product but don’t confuse this with time consuming or difficult work. Fresh basil is steeped in oil for 24 hours before being strained out and the oil then slowly streamed into the lemony, garlicy, egg base of a typical mayo. Using an immersion blender helps make this even easier on you (though if you don’t have one, don’t worry… using a standup or hand mixer with a whisk attachment on a medium-high speed will work, as will a high powered blender or food processor, though the latter two can be cumbersome with a smaller quantity like this).
Basil elevates chicken, even the best of one, to near perfection especially when it’s in the vehicle of a fatty mayo. Frankly, I’m happy enough here slathering the bread with this mayo, stuffing in some chicken and mootz and hiding away from the world while I devour an entire baguette full alone in my room. I’m told that’s now how adults do things, and that vegetables are good for you. For that reason not only do I (sometimes) share this, but I also throw in some arugula and roasted red peppers to spruce it up a bit. I personally like tomatoes (the baby ones) because I’m a sucker for a tomato sandwich—can you imagine one with basil mayo!?!—and this way I have basil mayo, tomatoes, and bread in the house at the same time so I can make that possible under the quiet of night when nobody is looking.
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Start the chicken by mixing everything together in a small bowl, with the obvious exception of the chicken and the olive oil. Season the chicken with this mixture, rubbing all over, top and bottom, over and under the skin. Set the chicken over a wire rack sitting inside a sheet tray and stash in the fridge, uncovered, for 8 hours.
After 8 hours, let the chicken come to room temperature for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Wipe off an liquid that's collected on the sheet trays, brush the chicken with the oil, set on the sheet tray, and roast in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken registers 165° on a digital thermometer. I start checking the temperature around 35 minutes just in case—you don't want it to overcook and dry out.
When the chicken is done let it rest for 15 - 20 minutes. When it's cool enough to handle, but still warm, slice the chicken off the bone and cut into slices (something around 1/4" in thickness).
I pop the bread in the oven once the chicken comes out, or shortly after, and let it just warm through—nothing too technical. To serve, slather the inside of the bread with the basil mayo and stuff slices of the chicken, mozzarella, arugula, and your choice of tomatoes or peppers (or both). Cut the baguettes into portions and devour.
Keep in mind the mayo takes 24 hours for the basil to steep in the oil.
Put the basil and oils in a liquid measuring cup and blend with an immersion blender until coarsely blended. Cover and steep this for 24 hours.
After 24 hours strain the oil through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth. Set the oil aside and discard the basil.
In a wide-mouthed jar blend the egg, egg yolk, 1 t-spoon of lemon juice, garlic, and salt on medium speed for about 1 minute to aerate the egg and bit and combine everything. Now, with the blender still running, slowly stream the basily oil (plunging the immersion blender up and down a bit). Start by doing it drop by drop, slowly increasing it up to a thin, steady, slo-mo stream. Once it's smooth, thick, and perfectly emulsified check it for seasoning and add more salt or lemon juice as needed.
Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
If you don't have an immersion blender you can just roughly chop the basil and steep in the oil. You can use either a handmixer or standup mixer with the whisk attachment to make the mayo. A traditional blender or even food processor will also work in a pinch but I prefer the former.