I grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., where our claims to fame are poverty, chicken wings and the fact that the Canadian border is 10 minutes west of our city, not north. Buffalonians are a special breed—no matter where they go, they will always loudly proclaim the virtues of the Nickel City and bewail the rest of the nation's lack of Wegmans grocery stores and proper wings.
I was browsing the Buffalo Facebook page earlier this month when I was reminded of this tendency. One post contained a shout-out to Buffalo natives living in other cities, and every response was essentially the same: "I grew up in Buffalo, now live in (Anytown) and I cannot for the life of me find a chicken-finger sub."
The rest of the nation has picked up on our chicken wings with varying degrees of success, but chicken fingers subs have been sadly overlooked. You can pick this up at any pizza and sub place in Buffalo and its neighboring suburbs, listed right alongside more universal classics such as the turkey club.
One of my fondest college memories is running up to Prima Pizza on Chippewa and Main for a hot chicken sub after a long day at the library.
The chicken finger sub is pretty simple, actually, and not terribly unusual—many restaurants already have the ingredients in stock.
Deep-fried chicken tenders are tossed in wing sauce on a toasted sub roll, topped with lettuce, tomato, provolone cheese and blue cheese dressing.
Sure, you can make a chicken-finger sub at home, but that's like saying you can make pizza at home—it's possible, but is it going to taste like that pizza you had from your favorite delivery place? No. It'll be good, but it's not the same.
I goaded a local restaurant owner into making one for me last week, and it was everything I remembered.
The creamy blue cheese offset the heat from the wing sauce, and the cool lettuce was only very slightly wilted from the melted cheese (mozzarella and jack, I think, a good compromise for the provolone).
I took a bite and teared up, suddenly hit with an overwhelming wave of nostalgia. For a second, I was back home, no longer a city girl lost in the mountains.
While I am so grateful to this restaurant for making me the sandwich, I hate to inconvenience them by requesting off-the-menu items every time I get a craving.
Here is the best approximation of a chicken-finger sub I can find—one that uses Frank's RedHot rather than Sriracha and leaves off the onions, unlike other blasphemous imposters.
Though it might not give you a taste of your own childhood, it's still awesome enough to inspire a little BuffaLove in even the most hardened mountain townie.
Kate Wutz: email@example.com
Adapted from the food blog Apartment Dining
1 12-inch sub roll
3 chicken fingers (tenders, actually. I'd get the fried ones from a supermarket or get an order at a local bar and take it home)
Green leaf lettuce
Tomato, thinly sliced
3 slices provolone cheese
2-3 Tbsp chunky blue cheese dressing
Frank's RedHot sauce (you may also use their wing sauce)
Warm chicken fingers in a 400-degree oven for three minutes or until hot. If using frozen, bake according to package directions.
While fingers cool, cut sub roll in half and spread the provolone slices on the top half. Lightly toast in a 400-degree oven for 3 to 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
Place hot sauce with chicken fingers in a bowl and toss to coat. If you like, you may add melted butter to the hot sauce to reduce the spiciness (in Buffalo, you can order these hot, medium or mild like wings). Set aside.
Remove roll from oven. Place chicken fingers, blue cheese dressing, tomato and lettuce on the bottom half in that order. Top with the other half, slice down the middle and savor one of the best things about living in the Queen City without having to suffer the downsides.