Carl's Jr. Ranch Crispy Chicken Sandwich Reduced-Fat
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Carl's Jr. Ranch Crispy Chicken Sandwich Reduced-Fat

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The 1980s were the beginning of tough times for one of the world's largest burger chains. Carl Karcher had built the little hotdog cart he purchased for $311 in 1941 into a successful West Coast hamburger chain 600 units strong, but his luck was about to change. Carl took his company public, then opened several Carl's Jr. restaurants in Texas. The bottom line for the Texas stores fell way below expectations, and the stock began to skid. In 1988 Carl was charged with insider trading for selling stock just before its price fell, and he paid almost $1 million in fines. When poor Southern California real estate investments left him millions of dollars in debt, Carl was desperate to find a way out of the hole. He proposed to the board of directors that Carl's Jr. should sell Mexican food. The board voted to fire Carl instead, and the man with the vision was ousted from the very company he had founded.

For this reduced-fat clone of an excellent chicken sandwich, we'll make the ranch dressing from scratch with fat-free ingredients. Then we'll use a special Top Secret Recipes baking technique cooked up in the underground test kitchen that eliminates much of the fat we can't avoid when frying.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size–1 sandwich
Total Servings–4
Calories–580 (Original–620)
Fat–11g (Original–29g)

Source: Low-Fat Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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Fat-Free Ranch Dressing
  • 1/3 cup fat-free mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-fat buttermilk
  • 1½ teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • Pinch dried dillweed
  • Pinch garlic
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 skinless chicken breast fillets
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 4 sesame seed hamburger buns
  • 4 iceberg lettuce leaves
  • 4 tomato slices
  • Do This
    • Restaurant/Brand
      Carl's Jr.
    • Instructions

      1. Prepare the ranch dressing by combining all ingredients except the gelatin and hot water in a medium bowl. Combine the gelatin with the hot water in a small bowl and stir to dissolve all of the gelatin. Add this to the other ingredients and stir well. Cover and chill (best to chill at least a couple of hours).

      2. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

      3. Combine the egg substitute and water in a large, shallow bowl.

      4. Combine the flour, salt, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder in another shallow bowl.

      5. Cut each chicken breast in half across the middle. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and pound it to about ¼ inch thick. Trim each piece so that it is round-ish.

      6. Working with one fillet at a time, coat each with the flour, then dredge it in the egg and water mixture. Coat the chicken once again with the flour and set aside until all of the fillets have been breaded.

      7. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with a generous coating of cooking oil. Place the chicken fillets on the baking sheet, then coat each one with a light layer of cooking spray.

      8. Bake the fillets for 12 minutes, then crank the oven up to broil for 4 to 5 minutes, then flip the chicken over and broil for another 2 to 4 minutes or until the chicken is browned and crispy on both sides.

      9. As the chicken is cooking, prepare each sandwich by grilling the faces of the hamburger buns on a hot skillet over medium heat. Spread about 1 ½ teaspoons of the ranch dressing on the face of the top and bottom buns.

      10. On the bottom bun, stack a leaf of lettuce and a tomato slice.

      11. When the chicken is done cooking, stack a fillet over the tomato onto the bottom of the sandwich, then top off the sandwich with the top bun. Repeat for the remaining sandwiches.

      Makes 4 sandwiches.

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I'm Todd Wilbur,
Chronic Food Hacker

For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

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