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The Route 66
1.5 hours

Now, not all superheroes wear capes but all the boldest American-style chicken burgers wear these base ingredients: chicken, cheese, mayo and lettuce. With so few components, you may wonder what factors determine the best-tasting chicken burger, but it is simply down to the highest-quality ingredients. The Route 66 is our take on the classic American chicken sandwich, using panko-breaded chicken thigh, gem lettuce, Monterey Jack cheese and pickles.

Extracted from Wings and Things by Ben Ford and David Turofsky (Quadrille, £16.99) Photography © Dan Jones

Recipe courtesy of
  • 100g (¾ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp celery salt
  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 250g (6 cups) panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 or 3L (2 or 3qt) vegetable or rapeseed (canola) oil, for cooking


  • 50ml (¼ cup) red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp caster (granulated) sugar
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 100g (1 cup) Bread and Butter Pickles (see below), or storebought, sliced

To serve

  • 4 sesame brioche buns, halved
  • 50g (3½ Tbsp) butter, melted
  • 125g (scant ½ cup) Burnt Onion Jam (see below)
  • 1 baby gem lettuce, leaves separated
  • 150ml (⅔ cup) Buttermilk Ranch dressing (see below)
  • 4 slices American cheese, such as Monterey Jack

For the Bread and Butter Pickles (serves 4)

  • 300ml (1¼ cups) apple cider vinegar
  • 150g (¾ cup) caster (granulated) sugar
  • ¼ tsp celery seeds
  • 2 Tbsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp fennel seeds
  • ¼ tsp dried chilli (red pepper) flakes
  • 500g (18oz) mini cucumbers
  • 1 white onion

For the Burnt Onion Jam (makes 250g / 1 cup)

  • 4 white onions, unpeeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • 100g (½ cup) soft dark brown sugar
  • 100ml (scant ½ cup) balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and black pepper

For the Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (makes 500ml / 2 cups)

  • 300ml (1½ cups) mayonnaise
  • 100ml (scant ½ cup) sour cream
  • 100ml (scant ½ cup) buttermilk
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 50g (1 cup) freshly chopped dill
  • 100g (2½ cups) freshly chopped chives
  • Freshly squeezed juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt and black pepper
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For the Burger

  1. Set up 3 separate bowls. In the first, combine the flour with all of the dry spices and seasoning. Crack the eggs into the second bowl and whisk until smooth. In the third bowl, add the panko breadcrumbs, salt and black pepper.
  2. Trim the chicken thighs removing excess fat and any gristle from the meat. Pass the thighs through the flour, eggs and the breadcrumbs. Set aside on a plate until needed – don’t do this too far in advance as the breadcrumbs will absorb the moisture in the chicken and the crust will not be as crumbly as required.
  3. Add the red wine vinegar and sugar to the sliced red onions and set aside until soft and deep purple in colour.
  4. Preheat a deep fryer to 170ºC (340ºF). Place the breaded thighs in the basket and lower slowly into the fryer. Cook for 8 minutes ensuring they hit 75°C (170ºF) at the core of the thickest part of the thigh. If they don’t hit 75°C (170ºF) after the first 8 minutes, continue cooking for a further minute.
  5. To build the burger, toast the sliced buns in a dry frying pan (skillet) until lightly coloured. Brush with the melted butter and return to the pan until a deep golden colour. Add the onion jam to the bottom bun then add the lettuce. On the top bun spoon on the ranch dressing, being generous. As soon as the chicken thigh is cooked and golden, add a slice of American cheese and place on top of the lettuce. Garnish with the pickled onions and the pickles. Top with the other half of the bun and give the whole thing a little squeeze.
  6. Best served with ice cold beer and a couple of mates.

For the Bread and Butter Pickles

  1. Put the vinegar, sugar and 100ml (scant ½ cup) water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the spices and infuse while you cut the cucumber into 5mm (¼in) slices, and thinly slice the onion. Add the cucumber and onion to the pickling liquid and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Store in the fridge in a closed container and use within 1 week.

For the Burnt Onion Jam

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC (375ºF) Gas 5. Halve the onions and crush the garlic, leaving them all in their skins. Drizzle with oil and add a little seasoning. Cook in the oven for 35–40 minutes, or until the onions start to catch and char around the edges.
  2. Allow the onions and garlic to cool and then squeeze them out of the skins onto a chopping board. Chop to a pulp and add to a saucepan with the sugar and vinegar. Bring to the boil and reduce until dark and sticky. Store in the fridge in a closed container and use within 7 days.

For the Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

  1. Mix all the ingredients together well, seasoning to taste. Store in the fridge in a closed container and use within 3 days.

The Pass was created to help the many people now struggling to feed themselves and their families as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. If you like or use this recipe, please consider making a small donation to Hospitality Action to help those whose livelihoods have all but disappeared.

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