KFC’s new Double Down (it’s spicy) made us wonder whether we couldn’t do a better version. So we asked four chefs to reinterpret the sandwich, with one rule: use a fried-chicken bun, like the original. Here’s what they came up with.
The Dirty Bird
West-end diner Cardinal Rule specializes in nostalgic comfort food, so co-owner and chef Marta Kusel gave her sandwich its throwback twist with Kraft Dinner. Two deep-fried, panko-crumbed chicken breasts stuffed with cheese curds and bacon envelop the restaurant’s hit maki ’n’ cheese: KD with jalapeno, smoked provolone, and more bacon. The result is an explosion of hot, gooey cheese with each bite, accented by salty bacon, crisp chicken, and a fiery scotch-bonnet hot sauce. “It’s a guilty pleasure that’s dirty and ridiculous,” says co-owner Katie James. “We just wanted to put the cheese in everything.”
Cardinal Rule, 5 Roncesvalles Ave., #RON 647-352-0202, cardinalrulerestaurant.com.
The Hammered Chicken
Colin Reed, Hammersmith’s chef and co-owner, thinly slices his chicken so he can fold it over rashers of bacon, pita-style. He also coats the meat in a crushed-almond crust. “It’s easier to cook and it browns nicely, giving the chicken a toasted flavour,” he says. Since the bacon, from new Leslieville butcher shop Sausage Partners, isn’t smoked, Reed concocted a goat cheese, thyme, and bacon-Sriracha mayo sauce. A side of green beans and watercress in a light dijonaise dressing offers roughage relief.
Hammersmith’s, 807 Gerrard St. E., #RIV 416-792-9043, hammersmithsbrunch.com.
The Inverted Torta de Milanesa
As soon as we issued this challenge to Milagro Cantina owner and chef Arturo Anhalt, he thought of the traditional Mexican torta de milanesa, a breaded chicken sandwich. “There are little stalls that would sell tortas everywhere in Mexico,” says Anhalt. “It’s like how burgers are everywhere here.” The chicken breast is coated in cornmeal and breadcrumbs, then fried (it’s somewhat similar to schnitzel). Sandwiched between the chicken: avocado, tomato, refried beans, chipotle mayo, onions, and oaxaca, a mild cow’s milk cheese similar to mozzarella.
Milagro Cantina, 5 Mercer St., #ENT 416-850-2855; 3187 Yonge St., #MID 416-487-2855; 783 Queen St. W., #QNW 416-366-2855, milagrorestaurant.com.
To cram a burger patty between chicken breasts would have been too easy for chef Chris Horvath, who runs the kitchen at BQM Burgershoppe on Ossington. “I’ve had a Double Down before, and I think it needs a little something extra.” His answer: pork. More specifically, a generous helping of 10-hour beer-braised pulled pork slathered in smoky homemade barbecue sauce, sandwiched between Cajun beer-battered, panko-crusted chicken breasts. Horvath’s creamy ’slaw is a nod to KFC’s version, and jalapenos, red onions, and grilled pineapple add sweetness and tang.
BQM Burgershoppe, 210 Ossington Ave., #OSS 416-850-1919 and 354 Queen St. W., #QNW 416-792-7792, burgershoppe.com.