Eight years in the suburbs and I still find myself analyzing what’s nice about living halfway between Boston and New York, rather than in either city. Such was the case after I returned from NYC last week wishing I had a more time to explore, shop and eat in the Big Apple. My pep talk (with myself) sounded something like this:
- Our sidewalks are clean and rarely smell like pee.
- We don’t have very good cupcake offerings; therefore, I eat many less cupcakes.
- Though our closets and basement may be full of stuff we don’t need, at least we don’t have to store things we do need in the bathtub or the oven.
- There is very little traffic and though I can’t walk everywhere, I can walk to many exciting places like Marshalls, Whole Foods, Walgreens and the park.
One thing I simply can’t fool myself on is the scarcity of super-cheap, really good ethnic take-out in the ‘burbs. One of my favorites in Boston was Chacarero, the Chilean sandwich shop tucked alongside a department store building and subway stop in the financial district of Boston. Once I finally got on the line that stretched around the corner from my office at lunchtime each day, I was hooked on the odd combination of green beans, grilled chicken, avocado spread, sliced tomato, muenster cheese and hot sauce.
I’ve finally found a recipe for the traditional Chilean sandwich that comes pretty close to the original. Just in time for local green beans and tomatoes appearing in our gardens and markets. And at least I don’t have to wait in line for this one.
Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
Roasted Red Peppers
- 2-4 large red bell peppers, seeded and cut in 1/2 lengthwise
- olive oil
- 3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 1/2 onion finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 cup barbecue sauce (not too spicy, not too smoky)
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- Hot pepper sauce (optional)
- Sandwich rolls (ciabatta, portuguese rolls)
- 2 smashed avocados
- Lemon juice
- Steamed green beans
- Sliced Muenster cheese
- Sliced Tomato
If these instructions look overwhelming, don’t worry. You can prep the peppers and chicken earlier to make this a breeze at dinnertime. You can also skip the pulled chicken and use grilled chicken, pork or steak in its place — or keep it vegetarian. I’ve added the roasted red peppers because that’s how I used to order my Chacarero.
Get the Peppers Going First
Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil on a baking sheet and place the peppers, cut side up on the oil. Turn the peppers over, season with salt and pepper, and roast in the oven at 450 for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. When the peppers are cool, remove and discard the skins. Slice the peppers and arrange them on a plate.
Then Start the Chicken
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place in a heavy pot with the onion, garlic and just enough water to cover (about 1 1/2-2 cups). Add the barbecue sauce, vinegar and a few drops hot sauce (optional) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Spoon off any of the foam that may appear.
Remove the chicken from the sauce and shred with two forks.
Boil the sauce, until reduced by half (about 15-20 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Add the shredded chicken and heat through.
To Assemble Sandwiches
Smash avocados and sprinkle with lemon and salt and pepper. Spread on one side of the bun. On the other side, layer pulled chicken, one slice of muenster cheese, tomato, red pepper and a handful of steamed green beans, and hot sauce (optional).