Fakin’ Canes: Cookin’ Salami Style

Raising Cane’s is one of my favorite fast food restaurants. I’ve raved about them before, but the closest one is now in Boston. What’s up with that? New Brunswick, home of the famous Rutgers grease trucks, could use a Cane’s! But until then, I’ll show you how to make a homemade facsimile.
For every six tenders, you will need 1 egg, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup each panko and regular unseasoned bread crumbs, and Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning or Slap Ya Mama, or some other spicy salt/pepper seasoning of your own concoction. You’ll need more for the dipping sauce, that comes later. Set up a bowl with whisked eggs, add water to stretch it if necessary; one plate of flour mixed with the seasoning, and one plate of the panko and crumbs mixed together. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour until it feels dry, then coat it in egg, and finally panko/crumbs.
Place directly into a cast iron pan with a 1/4″ of canola oil in the bottom, after a water drop will sizzle in it. Medium-low heat! Don’t make it super hot. And if it catches on fire, throw flour on it or use an extinguisher. As Mythbusters demonstrates, water on a grease fire = human torch costume winner of the year.
While that’s cooking- 3 to 4 mins per side, use a timer- make the dipping sauce. You’ll need 1/4 cup REAL mayo (I prefer Hellman’s) 3 tbsp ketchup (only Heinz will do), a few tsp of Worcestershire sauce, a few heavy dashes of Tony’s seasoning (or garlic salt + black pepper) and a few splashes of Tabasco. (If you use Frank’s Red Hot, you will be dragged to hell by a lamia, the black goat demon of the gypsies. Likewise if you use Tabasco on Buffalo wings). Just mix it all up in a bowl until it gets that gooey pink consistency.
Don’t forget to flip your tenders with tongs. I used wheat panko, so mine are darker than they would be if I used plain panko. If you’re paranoid like me, after 6 mins, take one out and cut it open to look for pink. Don’t over cook them. Mine were juicy and tender, the flour seals in the juices. I used Trader Joe’s chicken tenderloins. You can cut up chicken breasts if you prefer.
Let them cool and eat with Texas Toast. I skipped the toast to cut carbs, but you can use pre-made Texas Toast or make your own, to soak up the rest of that sauce or make li’l sammiches. Bring nakkins, you’re gonna need ’em. Serves one.

Greasy Spoons: Raising Cane’s

I don’t rave about too many chains or franchises; I’ve been taken to Sonic and Waffle House, but when you’ve got diners up the wazoo they’re not all that special. However, one I wish would make it north of the Mason-Dixon line is Raising Cane’s, a chicken restaurant. All they make are chicken fingers! But as the adage goes, they do it well.
If you want a chicken sandwich, they’ll put them on a bun for you. And you get some tasty Texas Toast and fries with your fingers, along with their signature Cane’s sauce for dipping. I first had them after a night of drinking at The Chimes near LSU in Baton Rouge, and they were delicious. And this time, they were the first food I wanted when I landed in Louisiana. Sure, if we’d hit the Quarter I’d have gotten begneits or a mess of boiled crawfish, but fast food was required- and Cane’s is simply the best drive-through restaurant I’ve been to in a long time.
Their chicken fingers are lightly breaded and extremely juicy, not greasy, and the tangy sauce compliments them perfectly. The Texas toast could be a little crispier but it’s a fine side, and their fries are top notch for crinkle-cuts. About the only ones better I’ve had at a fast food joint are at Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and even then it’s a close battle! Cane’s is that good. And their story is about as entertaining as the food itself.

Working at Cane’s is a rite of passage

As Firecracker told me many times, her fellow LSU alumnus Todd Graves came up with the idea for a chicken finger restaurant as a business class project, for which he received a C minus. He didn’t let that deter him, and worked up in Alaska at a salmon cannery (according to Wikipedia) to raise funds to start the first restaurant. He named it after his yellow Lab Raisin’ Cane, and since 1996 the place has been a hit- they have many locations, including as north as Minnesota I now see, and they made $97.3 million selling chicken fingers last year. Not bad for a C-.
I like his business model of opening near major universities, and I hope Rutgers in New Brunswick, or even Princeton makes the cut sometime. Since it’s a drive-thru I can’t see it at NYU, so you New Yorkers will have to rent a zipcar or something. It’s worth it! Boston is a big college town, so maybe they’ll be next.