Haute Cheee-Kin


I do my best not to disparage my fellow human being through bad
thoughts, gossip or mean words. In fact, I’m a pretty nice guy with no
known enemies and try to be likeable on most days. Most times I think I
succeed, and on those other days I rely on my bevy of good friends to
let me rant and rave about whatever is currently distressing me. They
help me get the bad stuff off my chest and move on. I appreciate and
love them.

(That means you, Kev.)

I am also the type of guy who is known for making
lemonade out of lemons and for taking less-than-glorious moments and
turning them around. It’s what I do. So perhaps you’ll appreciate this
story from my crazy years living in San Francisco. I was dating the
strangest of men, a guy I’ll only refer to as "D", and Bobby, if you’re
reading you’ll know exactly who I’m talking about. Anyway, this was a
beautiful, successful handsome man with a gorgeous home in Noe Valley
and the world was at his feet. He was really going places. Naturally I
enjoyed our time together and the old-fashioned courtship. That is
until we got behind closed doors, where all semblances of success and
sanity disappeared and he became a sloppy, annoying, needy , angry
drunk who would say the strangest things — all of which I cannot
repeat here. I file it under "nightmare dating experiences" and move
on. In fact, just writing this entry brought up a bunch of sad and
funny memories, and it made my heart hurt just a little bit. I’m sure
he’s doing better and he’s happy wherever he is…. at least that’s
what I tell myself. And god knows I couldn’t be happier now myself.

it wasn’t all bad. There was one brilliant thing about this man, one
thing that made the experience worthwhile and something I shall never
ever ever forget.

It was known as "Hot Chicken".

As it
turned out, "D" grew up in Quebec and introduced me to something he
grew up eating in Canada. It was called Hotchicken, or commonly known
as Hot Chicken. In its most simplest terms it’s an open face hot
chicken sandwich, but the addition of peas and sometimes french fries
make it stand alone in the sandwich world. And then there’s the sauce.
While we may refer to it as brown gravy, I learned that the true way to
enjoy a Hot Chicken (pronouced "haute cheeee-kin" with an accent, of
course) is with actual Hot Chicken Sauce which can be found in regional
grocery stores. Unfortunately I have no access to this magical potion
(read: brown gravy)  and must rely on my own.

At its worst, Hot
Chicken is a wet, salty sandwich free from anything fresh and good for
you. At its best, Hot Chicken is a wet, salty sandwich free from
anything fresh and good for you. And it’s for all these reasons that I
love it so.

Who says Poutine should get all the glory?


Hot Chicken

It’d be senseless to actually use measurements for this. It’s simply
too intuitive. Layer chicken on top of a slice of bread, top with
another slice, douse generously with brown gravy and top with mushy
peas. Yes, seriously. I’ll have another.

And here you thought we only ate truffles and locally-harvested snails. Hmpfh.


  1. says

    This is just stunningly strange enough to be incredibly edible. It reminds me a lot of a turkey and dressing sandwich, which is a favorite of mine around the holidays…

    Hmmm, I think I need to go out and buy me some turkey.

    Thanks for the inspiration, Matt!

  2. Laurie says

    Oh My! I grew up on this stuff!! I like your blog by the way and I didn’t know you would talk about this “particular” dish one day! You should now try “Pâté chinois”. It’s even better. Good luck.

  3. Laurie says

    Oh My! I grew up on this stuff!! I like your blog by the way and I didn’t know you would talk about this “particular” dish one day! You should now try “Pâté chinois”. It’s even better. Good luck.

  4. says

    I’m just happy to see you’re just as gross as I am.

    Actually, I knew there was a gross food guy hiding in there somewhere. I mean, you’re not all “heirloom tomato sandwiches”. If you buy food off one of those trucks, like that chimichuri burger……you’re a lot like me……HA!

    That looks pretty yummy…but I’d probably go with Sourdough or French Bread. That’d be good too.

    What’re you writing about tomorrow?

  5. says

    It would only be you, Matt, who could take such a gorgeous picture of such a mundane dish. I spent a summer in Quebec when I was in high school and again in college. Poutine and Hot Chicken were highlights (as was the lack of enforcement of the legal drinking age). There’s also a version with beef instead of chicken (“haute rozebeef”).

  6. says

    There’s also a dish here in Nashville called Hot Chicken, but it’s hot = spicy (here’s an old article on the topic: http://tinyurl.com/4qt6e). I have the say, your hot chicken sandwich looks tasty, although I’d probably prefer it without the peas – of course, it probably wouldn’t be an official version of the sandwich then, right? :)

  7. says

    It is a testament to your powerful photography-fu that you can take a train-wreck of cuisine and make it look mouth-watering…

  8. says

    Yes, a beautiful picture of what surely looks like a school cafeteria nightmare 😉

    reminds me of a few childhood favorites we’d talk my grandmother into making for us for lunch – stuff I’d keep miles, (and decades) away from my little one… at least this one has the benefit of veg.

    Would a “slice” of pea soup be acceptable for a winter version of this sandwich?

  9. says

    Technically speaking, as a brit, I’d say those are tinned peas, not mushy peas. Mushy peas are unrecognisable green slop that goes very well with Fish and Chips.

  10. says

    This reminds me of the time I met a person from Fall River, Massachusetts, who was astounded I had never heard of a chow mein sandwich. When I asked what it was, the (incredulous) response was “chow mein on a hamburg [not hamburger] bun.” Perhaps you’d like to check that out too.

  11. micha says

    ooouuutch-wow,great pic of a somewhat really strange combination of more or less edible “food”!?-items.

    You’re my hero matt 😉

  12. says

    I personally only eat truffles and locally-harvested snails, washed down with wine made from the grapevines in my front yard, but I’m glad to know that you’re keeping it real, staying connected to the People. Word.

  13. Sheila says

    That is too funny. After reading the sentence: “It was known as “Hot Chicken”.” The first thing that popped into my head was…’I wonder if he was from Quebec’. Then I read the next sentence :o) I grew up in Quebec. Along with the pork dripping sandwich (white bread smeared first with the solidified pork fat then the ‘jelly’ from the drippings left over after making a roast of pork, and sprinkled with salt and pepper)this was my Dad’s favorite food. Thanks for the memories :o)

  14. excelsior says

    This sounds totally killer (in all senses of the word) to me. We have much to learn from our Canadian friends.

  15. says

    I cannot BELIEVE you would out Mayor Gavin like this, and disguise him with Canadian nationality.

    You have no shame, no standards, and no taste.

    Can I have a bite of that pile of chicken ‘n’ peas, PLEASE?

  16. says

    All that’s missing are the mashed potatoes! This looks like something I would concoct with Thanksgiving leftovers (using turkey rather than chicken, of course). Since I always smother my peas and dinner roll with gravy, I already know that I love this sandwich :-)

  17. says

    I think that everyone comes into our lives to teach us (at least) one thing. So this guy was a nightmare for you, but he left you with the one thing you take away that is so great. For example, I am currently working with a sous chef who is a total douchebag, but he has taught me how to cook a scallop like nobody’s business. No matter what they are like as people – everyone has something to teach us!

  18. Pandora says

    I also grew up in Quebec and now live in Ontario. I still make this sandwich, my kids love it, but I use the left over chicken/turkey gravy from Thanksgiving or Christmas. I made a variation adding dried cranberries into the sandwich with the poultry…OMG! it’s sooooo good.

    Who cares if it’s good for you. It’s something you just don’t eat everyday and it gets rid of those left overs. =)

  19. says

    The sandwich looks great, but I want to hear more about the lousy b-friend. I mean, honestly, if anyone was able to get you behind closed doors, they should bow humbly, kneel at your feet and worship the ground your walk on. (Your imagination can take it from there.)

    Not just give you a good sandwich idea…

  20. Yan says

    I’m a Canadian who lives abroad (Sweden).
    I grew up in Montreal and of course now the Hot Chicken…
    it’s very good, and u just gave me the idea of making one. Thank you 😉

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