Simplicity is the key to this sandwich, a wonderful combination of lettuce, tomato, chicken, mayo and tomato sauce (ketchup) and cheese (in my recipe as optional). ‘X’ in Portuguese is actually the short for the word cheese, stolen from the name in English ‘Cheese Burger’. In Brazil, most sandwiches made with buns start with an ‘X’, so for example if it’s beef hambuguer we call it X-Burger, the beef hamburguer with tomato and lettuce is called ‘X-Salada’, the sandwich made with Picanha (rump cap cut) is called ‘X-Picanha’, the banana sandwich it’s called ‘X-Mico’, mico means little monkey in Portuguese and then we have the ‘X-Frango’ which is made with chicken.
I love this sandwich not only because is simple and easy but also it reminds me of my teenage years, the great times I had with my friends growing up in a small country town in the South of Brazil in the 80s. At early nights on every single weekend, my friends and I used to go to a drive-in type of restaurant, similar to those American burger restaurants popular in the 50s, where we parked our car and a waiter would come and talk to us through the car window to get the orders. That place in particular was called ‘Komilão’ that means glutton – a very appropriate name for a place that sold sandwiches, fresh fruit juices, smoothies and soft drinks to hungry teenagers. My favourite was the chicken ‘X-Frango’ always ordered with a chilled Guaraná, the most popular Brazilian soft drink which is made with guaraná berry of the Amazon. This soft drink is, by the way, commonly available from South American grocers outside Brazil.
The food was prepared in a little food van and then served on trays that hooked onto rolled down windows. It was not uncommon to see cars qued in the street with eager drivers waiting for a spot to park their cars. Also, it is not a surprise ‘Komilão’ was so popular: sandwiches were very tasty, smoothies and fruit juices were always freshly made, it was cheap and the service was great. A perfect combination for starving teens who could smell the smoky grilled meat floating in the air from blocks away.
1 chicken breast, deboned
3 tbs olive of oil
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp paprika
Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
2 ripe tomatoes, 1 cm sliced
4 slices of cheddar cheese (optional)
Good-quality store-bought or home-made mayonnaise, to serve
Tomato sauce (ketchup), to serve
4 hamburguer buns
Extra-virgin olive oil, to brush
1. In a small bowl, prepare the marinade with olive oil, lime juice, paprika, salt and pepper. Slice the chicken breast 1 cm thick and pour the marinade all over the chicken. Place the chicken in food plastic bag, close the bag and massage the chicken to spread the marinade evenly. Reserve.
2. Slice the buns open and brush both sides with olive oil. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat, turn the bun down onto the pan and quickly toast the inside moving the bun in circles so it toasts evenly. Repeat with the other buns.
3. Heat a grill or frying pan over high heat and fry the chicken slices in batches for 3 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through. Cover the fried pieces loosely with foil as you fry the other batches to keep them warm.
4. To assemble, place a couple of lettuce leaves, tomato slices, chicken, cheese (if using) and squeeze some mayo and tomato sauce on top. Serve with additional mayo and tomato sauce, if desired.