“Let’s Eat a Chicken Sandwich” is I Ate Oklahoma’s newest recurring feature, rounding up the best locally made chicken sandwiches for you to eat with your mouth.
Item: Chicken Saltimbocca Sandwich
The chicken sandwich I most often imagine is a breast cutlet, dredged in flour, maybe breadcrumbs, and fried. It’s a good sandwich. A tried-and-true sandwich. But it is not the only chicken sandwich.
If there’s any problem with non-fried chicken sandwiches, it’s that they are often built with the health of the diner, rather than the healthy appetite of the diner, in mind. One of my least-favorite sandwiches of all time was from the long-departed Beatnix Cafe, in which a plain griddled chicken breast was put between two pieces of wheat toast with lettuce, tomato, and a serious lack of care. It tasted like nothing and was difficult to eat, both logistically and enthusiastically.
Neither of those are worries at Rococo, where owner Bruce Rinehart refuses to serve any dishes that don’t cause customers to, at the very least, silently chair dance.
Among several must-try dishes (seriously, have you not been to Rococo yet?) the lunch menu has a chicken sandwich that is so delicious and so easy to eat that you might forget to chew.
Chicken Saltimbocca is not traditionally served as a sandwich. Instead, it’s kind of an old-school fancy restaurant dish, a la Chicken Kiev. But Rococo, which is old-school fancy in its own way, happily sandwiches the dish inside a brioche bun.
It’s a chicken breast pounded out thin, stuffed with arugula, topped with crispy prosciutto and melted provolone, with a smear of red pepper aioli.
You remember those commercials for Del Rancho where they talk about how the meat hangs over the bun? Samesies. The bottom bun is there, I promise, but if you’re not careful you might end up eating it all before you finish the fillings.
Eating this sandwich, all I can think of is how much restraint the cooks are showing and how much I love it. It would be SO EASY to overdo the cheese. It would be SO EASY to put on just a bit more aioli. There’s plenty going on in a Chicken Saltimbocca Sandwich and the urge to do more more more more more more more is a tough one to resist. More prosciutto? More arugula? More chicken? Sure!
Except what makes this one so good is the balance. It’s the right size. It’s filling but not overfilling. The elements work in perfect harmony so that every bite, regardless of those little irregularities in every dish, presents the diner with a perfect bite of juicy chicken, soft greens, melty cheese, crisp prosciutto, etc.
We’re going to eat a lot of fried chicken sandwiches in the months ahead, but let’s all take the time to appreciate how difficult it is to thread the needle and make a truly wonderful non-fried chicken sandwich.