Chicken sandwiches are one of the all-time cocktail party classics. And in Melbourne, the one sandwich to rule them all is the one made by caterer Peter Rowland.
It's been seen at some of Melbourne's swankiest luncheons, parties and events since 1962 – an astonishing 50 tonnes have left the Peter Rowland kitchen over the past 56 years.
During the Spring Racing Carnival alone, the company expects to plate up more than 10,000 chicken sandwiches.
Matthew Haigh, the group executive chef of Peter Rowland Group, says the chicken sandwich remains timeless.
"While some food trends have come and gone, the chicken sandwich has stood the test of time and shows no signs of losing its popularity."
The company has launched Packed by Peter Rowland, an online corporate catering service that, with a day's notice, will deliver a box of 24 chicken sandwich points (quarter sandwiches).
Last year, the company instigated National Chicken Sandwich Day on November 1, a chance to celebrate an Australian classic, whether you like yours cut into rounds, points or fingers, crunchy with celery or nuts, or perfectly smooth and creamy.
The Peter Rowland version uses soft, crustless white bread lightly spread with butter and filled with a combination of poached chicken and house-made mayonnaise flecked with chopped chives and parsley.
The exact recipe has remained a closely guarded secret. Until now.
Peter Rowland's famous chicken sandwiches
Shredded rocket leaves or watercress make a good peppery addition to these sandwiches. A pinch of hot paprika or cayenne will also add a little spice. The mayonnaise recipe makes twice as much as you need but keeps well in the fridge.
1/2 chicken breast (about 300g), poached and diced
125ml (1/2 cup) home-made mayonnaise
3 tsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tsp finely chopped chives
salt and pepper, to taste
12 slices white toast bread
2 egg yolks (room temperature)
2 tsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
250ml (1 cup) olive oil (or blend of olive and vegetable oils)
salt and pepper
To make the mayonnaise, put the egg yolks, 1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar, 1 tsp mustard and a pinch of salt in a blender and blend for a few seconds. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil and when it has all been incorporated, add 1 tbsp hot water and remaining lemon juice or wine vinegar and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Make sure the eggs are at room temperature when you start. Add more mustard or lemon juice according to taste.
Combine the chicken, mayonnaise and herbs in a bowl. Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Butter the bread, trim the crusts. Spread the filling over six slices, top each with a buttered slice and cut into quarters.
Makes 6 rounds or 12 points