Meat, skin, and fat: Mile End sandwich is a decadent delight

Taking plain to great: Sous chef junior Najee Williams at Mile End Delicatessen presents the eatery’s chicken salad sandwich, which combines meat, skin, and fat of chicken to give you a lunch like you’ve never had.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

It is, amazingly, a chicken salad sandwich to brag about.

When one of the most standard of standard sandwiches fails, it recalls soggy lunchbox meals of mayonnaise-drenched chicken salad from the supermarket. When it succeeds, it forms a light, cool and creamy sandwich, an impeccable lunch, meat and condiment together as one. A true triumph. The right combination requires restraint, a careful hand, just a little imagination and, above all else, good taste.

But where others practice restraint, Mile End Delicatessen, Boerum Hill’s temple to Montreal style Jewish food, practices excess — and it prevails. Rock tunes pump loudly from overhead. Chefs scurry to and fro in the open kitchen. Brisket to rival your Bubbe’s comes smoked and stacked high on house-made rye. Poutine, the Canadian dish of French fries, gets a veritable drenching in gravy and cheese curds.

And the chicken salad sandwich, robust and flavorful, is the unsung hero of the delicatessen’s lunch menu. It’s the most decadent, and most delicious in Brooklyn.

Mile End practices a whole-chicken approach to the sandwich, so to speak.

Chicken meat is mixed with mayonnaise, parsley and scallions and hits the “just right” combination of fat to flavor to meat. Chicken skin is cooked down with onions to make gribenes, Kosher pork cracklings, if you will, which is lovingly sprinkled atop the chicken salad. And schmaltz, or chicken fat, is toasted onto thick slices of eggy challah. To finish, thin slices of pickled red pepper and cucumber, gently flavored with dill, give the sandwich a little lift.

You’ll realize you’ve never had a chicken salad sandwich taken to such a level. You’ll also realize that after something this good, you’ll want it all the time.

Mile End Delicatessen [97A Hoyt St. (718) 852–7510, between Atlantic Avneue and Pacific Street, www.mileenddeli.com].

Will Levitt is a Brooklyn-based food writer. Follow him on Twitter @UnderEggWill

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