Man Food: Commonwealth’s Fried Chicken Sandwich
If the sound of an extravagant fried chicken sandwich appeals to you in a remarkably unpretentious way, then you’ll probably want to head over to Commonwealth sooner rather than later. The once-a-week special is the ultimate comfort food, generously stashed between a buttered and toasted bulkie roll. There is no wheel reinvention here, nor is there meant to be, but chef Nookie Postal’s treatment feels wholly original.
Starting with boneless chicken thighs from Bell and Evans, the bird takes a four-day buttermilk brine with a healthy dose of garlic and onion powder, chili flake, salt, and sugar. It’s then dredged in seasoned flour (similar to the brine, but with the addition of paprika) and fried until golden and crackly. The chicken remains crispy throughout, the seasoning proudly elevating the flavor, and harmoniously tying together one hell of a fried chicken. Next comes a handful of blue cheese crumbles, a broccoli slaw with a hint of celery, and Commonwealth’s “beurre Frank,” a magical mixture of melted butter and Frank’s Hot Sauce.
We’re not talking haute cuisine here, but what you are ultimately left with is the best version of Buffalo wings, albeit in sandwich form. Both the top and bottom buns are brushed with the beurre Frank, as well as the chicken, right after it comes sizzling from the fryer. The process mimics our dear Buffalo wing in almost every way. This sandwich is more than a beast, the chicken generous yet somehow light, with a mild application of vegetation for good measure. Not to be outdone are the side of sturdy duck fat fries, thick as classic steak fries, yet more satisfying with the unctuous addition of rendered fat.
The fried chicken sandwich at Commonwealth is generally offered as a special on Thursday to complement Postal’s already fantastic sandwich lineup. But get there early, a limited supply of these babies (usually only around 30-35) are all that is offered. At its core, it’s simply a well-prepared set of fried chicken pieces, perfectly balanced by vegetal crunch and some traditional poultry partners. But the overall impression is much more than that. It’s a succulent enterprise fit for a king or queen. With a side of Buffalo sauce, of course.
Commonwealth, Broad Canal Way, Cambridge, info: 617-945-7030, commonwealthcambridge.com.