100 Favorite Dishes

100 Favorite Dishes 2012: No. 90, Chicken Sandwich at JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers

This year leading up to our annual Best of Houston® issue, we're counting down our 100 favorite dishes in Houston. This list comprises our favorite dishes from the last year, dishes that are essential to Houston's cultural landscape and/or dishes that any visitor (or resident) should try at least once.

Although it's a burger joint, my favorite thing at JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers doesn't come with beef. It's the chicken sandwich, an unlikely contender but by far the better of the two sandwiches that the three-month-old restaurant makes. (There's also a hot dog, which I haven't tried yet.)

What makes the chicken sandwich special is a combination of several items; this is a sandwich that's greater than the sum of its parts, which starts with a grilled chicken patty unlike any wobbly, uneven chicken breast you've ever received haphazardly balanced atop a mealy bun. JerryBuilt co-owner Brooksy Smith explained that it's a proprietary blend of chicken that the restaurant created to ensure the chicken patty would cook evenly and still taste juicy.

"First, we remove the skin," Smith said. That "good" fat is set aside, while the rest of the chicken is stripped of its tough intramuscular fat. Then, the breasts, thighs and drumsticks (but not wings) are all ground together. The final step is adding the skin back in for just the right amount of binder. It's served between two soft yet sturdy buns baked especially for JerryBuilt by Three Brothers Bakery.

I like the chicken the same way that Smith does: topped with jalapeño cream cheese, bacon and Ernie's sauce (a blend of ketchup, Duke's mayonnaise and Wickles Pickles relish). I also add pickles and onions for crunch -- you can add anything to your sandwich free of charge here, so feel free to go as nuts as I do -- and wash it all down with some of the housemade lemonade. It's the grown-up version of Chick-fil-A, and JerryBuilt is even open on Sundays.

The list so far:

No. 100: Chili cheese mac at Jus' Mac No. 99: Texas turkey sandwich at Spec's No. 98: Custard at Petite Sweets No. 97: Caprichos mixtos at Taqueria Monterrey Chiquito No. 96: Pineapple-wasabi burger at Lankford Grocery No. 95: Farmer's MKT Pizza at Phoenicia's MKT Bar No. 94: Potatoes at Money Cat Brunch No. 93: Breakfast tacos at Sunrise Taquito No. 92: Hot dog at Tacos D.F. No. 91: Avocado gelato at Frozen Cafe

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Katharine Shilcutt