Marrying influences from his family’s heritage, chef Katsuji Tanabe turns out inspired Mexican fare with a hint of Japanese style at his restaurant a’Verde in Cary, North Carolina. His chicken milanesa torta recipe, a customer favorite, perfectly exemplifies this: Japanese-style chicken tonkatsu meets a Mexican torta in Tanabe’s epic sandwich. With a butterflied and breaded chicken thigh, toasted telera bread roll, creamy refried beans, and lots of acid and spice from Roma tomatoes and onions, you can re-create this a’Verde best seller.
Tanabe gets telera bread from his local Mexican supermarket. If you have trouble finding it locally, you can substitute a hoagie roll. Much of the torta recipe’s appeal comes from the sandwich’s height. That said, you won’t need to use all of the ingredients to their entirety. Trust your judgement on how much beans, tomatoes, onion, peppers, and avocado you want filling the sandwich.
Finally, serve the chicken milanesa torta with a side of Tanabe’s guacamole to round out the meal.
Makes 1 sandwich
1 chicken thigh, butterflied and pounded thin
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 cup flour
2 cups panko breading
½ cup canola oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 telera bread roll, halved
1 (15-ounce) can refried beans
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 can chipotle in adobo
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 Roma tomato, thinly sliced
4-6 strips quesillo cheese
Make the chicken:
- Place chicken in a resealable freezer bag or shallow baking dish and add fish sauce. Marinate for at least 4 hours.
- Create breading station with three separate bowls or containers, one each for flour, eggs, and panko. Dredge chicken in flour, then eggs, then panko.
- Heat canola oil in a skillet over high heat. Carefully add chicken and pan fry until the outside turns golden brown and crispy. Transfer to a plate.
- Butter both sides of sliced telera roll and lightly toast. On bottom roll, spread an even layer of mayonnaise, then beans. Top with fried chicken, onions, tomatoes, chipotle, pickled beets (if using), sour cream, and avocado slices. Press top roll firmly onto sandwich to bring toppings together. Slice in half to serve.
Recipe ByKatsuji Tanabe from a’Verde in Cary, North Carolina