Keto followers rejoice! Crispy fried
chicken sandwiches are back on your menu!
Chef and fellow keto follower Gerard Viverito shares ingredient
swaps to make your favorite sandwich low-carb and healthy
There’s nothing quite like the satisfying crunch of a crispy fried chicken sandwich. But if you’re following a low-carb keto diet, you may think this popular breaded sandwich is off the table. Not true! A more nutritious, clean-keto version is possible by swapping a few ingredients such as using Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil instead of another vegetable oil for frying.
What is dirty keto vs. clean keto?
Functional Chef Gerard Viverito remembers learning the hard way about clean vs. dirty keto. “Like most people starting the keto diet, all the high-carb, starchy foods went out the window first. I dropped potatoes, pasta and pastries. I felt I could eat as much bacon, pastrami and sausage as I wanted. But I was feeling bloated and sluggish,” he recalls.
“Those highly processed foods are usually high in salt, contain hidden sugars and may contain additives that can lead to weight gain. They frequently lack micronutrients because they are so heavily processed. If you’re using a common vegetable or oil such as soy, corn or safflower or margarine, those are also typically chemically stripped of nutrients.
“So, I started using free-range eggs, Malaysian sustainable palm oil, non-starchy vegetables, grass-fed beef and sustainable seafood. My food tasted better because it was clean. And I started feeling more energetic.” Chef Gerard also discovered why clean keto is an easier and less expensive way to eat.
With clean keto, you’re eating few if any processed foods. “I’m not talking about eating exclusively organic, although that’s nice if you can afford it. Clean keto is approaching the diet from a whole-food perspective,” he says. “By this, I mean foods that come to your kitchen or table as nature created them. Think of fruits, nuts and seeds, for example, as nature’s convenience foods.
Craving a much-loved crispy chicken sandwich
Chef Gerard has traveled extensively through Southeast Asia, cooking alongside some of those countries’ top chefs. He’s also frequented their local fast-food restaurants. “One best-seller is a southeast Asian version of a fried chicken sandwich. Since it isn’t practical to travel to Asia when I crave this sandwich, I decided to come up with my own low-carb, clean keto version by substituting almond flour in the breading and Malaysian red palm oil for frying.”
Protein-rich almond flour is low-carb and gluten-free. It can be substituted one-for-one for all-purpose wheat flour.
Malaysian palm oil is nature’s richest source of vitamin E tocotrienols which are particularly good for heart and brain health. “It also holds up well to high heat, whereas some oils can become carcinogenic if you overheat them. And because I also care deeply about our environment, I look for opportunities to use Malaysian palm oil because it is certified sustainable. I’ve been on the plantations and in the rainforests. The Malaysians take incredibly good care of their people and our planet,” concludes Chef Gerard.
For more recipe ideas, visit www.ChefGerard.com.
Media Note: For additional information or to schedule an interview, contact Media Relations Agency at 952-697-5220. Chef Gerard Viverito is a member of Media Relations Agency’s panel of highly respected third-party experts. He is compensated to educate and express his professional opinions, through the media, about certain products.
Chef Gerard Viverito is a culinary instructor as the Director of Culinary Education for Passionfish, a NGO non-profit organization dedicated to educating people around the globe on the issue of sustainability in the seas. [www.passionfish.org] He is also operator of his own catering company, whose beliefs and products center on local, sustainable and organic foods. Chef Viverito’s pantry is loaded with items commonly overlooked in the supermarkets, yet he has a thorough understanding of them and a passion to teach others how to cook more healthfully. www.ChefGerard.com
Low Carb Crispy Fried Chicken Sandwiches
Chef Gerard Viverito
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
Malaysian Red Palm Oil for frying
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup almond flour
2/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne, Korean chili powder or togarashi
- Chicken: Cut each thigh into 3 evenly sized pieces. Pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.
- Breading Station: Whisk eggs and heavy cream in bowl until combined and pale yellow. Stir together all of the breading ingredients in another bowl until evenly combined. Prepare a tray lined with parchment paper to hold the breaded chicken.
- Working one piece at a time, coat the chicken first in the breading then in the egg wash. and, then again in the breading bowl.. Place breaded chicken pieces on a parchment lined pan.
- Add 2-3 inches of oil to a pot, place over medium-high heat. Heat oil to 350 F, and frequently monitor the temperature and adjust the heat level during frying if you are not using a deep fryer with temperature control.
- Carefully place half of the chicken pieces into the oil. Fry until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes and drain on a rack lined pan or paper towels. Repeat with remaining chicken.
Serve with Spicy Mayo and Slaw (or Southeastern Asian-inspired Aioli) on Keto Fathead Rolls.
Spicy mayo and slaw:
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1/2 cup mayonnaise [See Southeastern Asian Inspired Aioli variant of Aioli Recipe]
1 Tbsp Louisiana-style hot pepper sauce
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
4 cups thinly sliced cabbage
1/2 cup bread-and-butter pickle slices, plus 1/4 cup pickle juice
Mix all ingredients together. Cover, chill, and reserve until ready to use.
Yield: 1 Pint
This gem comes from Provence. I can honestly say there was no way I was eating mayonnaise with anything but tuna salad until I was living in Europe in my late twenties. That is when I discovered this silken emulsion sauce. Perfect to dip cut vegetables in, a spoonful on steamed or grilled fish, grilled meats, French fries, or a base to add more flavors to. It’s traditionally made with olive oil, but here we see it is equally doable with Malaysian palm oil.
2 egg yolks, I use raw, but feel free to substitute pasteurized
2 clove garlic, mashed to a paste
3/4 fl. oz. white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dry or dijon mustard
16 fl ounces Malaysian Red Palm Oil
Salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste
In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolk, garlic, vinegar, and mustard until well blended. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the oil in a slow, steady stream; start slowly and then add more quickly as it emulsifies. Whisk until all oil is blended in and it is thick and glossy. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Cover; chill.
*If you want to save time or don’t feel comfortable with this step, you can alternately use 2 cups of store-bought mayonnaise and then blend in the variation ingredients.
Aioli can be made 1 day ahead and kept in the fridge. Its best consumed right away, but will last one week in fridge.
Southeastern Asian Inspired Aioli– Microplane in 1 teaspoon ginger, 1 tsp of lemongrass, substitute lime juice for Lemon, ½ tsp Sriacha sauce, 1 tsp of soy, and ¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves
Keto Fathead Rolls [if you want to make a sandwich]
Calories: 160 cal
2 oz cream cheese
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1 egg beaten
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup almond flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 425°
- In a small bowl, add cream cheese and mozzarella. Microwave on high for 20 seconds at a time until melted.
- In a separate bowl, whisk egg until beaten. Add dry ingredients and mix well.
- Work mozzarella/cream cheese mixture into dough. Dough will be sticky. Stir in cheddar cheese.
- Spoon dough onto plastic wrap. Dust the top of it with almond flour.
- Fold the plastic wrap over the dough and gently start working into a ball.
- Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Cut the dough ball into 4 pieces. Roll each section into a ball. Cut the ball in half. This is your top and bottom bun.
- Place cut side down on parchment paper or very well greased sheet pan.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden and set up.
Chicken. Thighs are juicy, flavorful, hard to overcook, and easily available as boneless and skinless. They are better than chicken breasts for a Keto style lifestyle due to their healthy fats. Since they’re uneven, you get a lot more crunch as they provide lots of surface area for the spicy breading to adhere to.
Oil For Frying. I prefer Malaysian Palm oil since it (a) has neutral flavor and (b) can be heated to at least 350 F without burning You can re-use the oil by filtering it through a fine-mesh strainer or coffee filter. In fact, re-used oil or a mix of old and new often results in crunchier fried foods due to broken-down oil making better contact with the food [see Cooks Illustrated article.] I strain it when it’s cooled into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator until needed again.
Almond Flour. Look for blanched, which means the skins are removed from the almonds, so the flour looks white. Don’t substitute with other flours, which vary in their absorbency and could burn.
Parmesan Cheese. Use finely grated. Don’t use shredded cheese, since it won’t adhere to the chicken.
Paprika. Also sold as “Pimenton”, I include this for a smokier flavor as well as the, color it adds to the chicken.
Cayenne/Togarashi. This small amount results in very minimal heat. For spicy chicken, you can double the amount.
Breading Tips. To make the breading process less messy I use tongs. Alternately you can use one hand for touching the breading and the other hand for touching the egg wash. To coat, flip the chicken piece a few times in the bowl until it’s coated on all sides, lift up, and shake off excess (for breading) or let the excess drip away (for egg wash). When coating with breading, place the chicken in the breading bowl and first scoop some breading on top of it so that you don’t have to touch the chicken while flipping to coat.
Pot. An 8-inch diameter pot is large enough to fry 6 breaded chicken pieces without overcrowding. You do not want the pieces to touch if possible.
Batch Cooking. I only fry 6 chicken pieces at a time, both to avoid overcrowding them and decreasing the oil temperature too much.
Frying Time. Uneven sized chicken pieces cook at uneven rates. On average, it takes about 5 minutes to fry them until golden and cooked through, but may take longer if you have large pieces. The safest and easiest way to tell if the chicken is done is by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part. It should read at least 165 F. If not, fry for another 1-2 minutes and test again. If it takes much longer than 5 minutes to cook through perhaps the oil is not hot enough, the pieces are not completely submerged in oil, the pieces are too large, or you are overcrowding them in the pot causing the temperature of the oil to drop drastically.