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The KFC “Double Down” is Going Down!

So I was intrigued a couple of weeks ago when I read Fat-Head's...uh...Tom Naughton's account of getting his final affairs in order in advance of trying out Kentucky Fried Chicken's New Double Down Sandwich. "I Doubled Down and Lived to Tell."

After learning a few weeks ago that KFC would begin offering the Double Down nationwide on April 12, I made plans to try one. But first, given the hysterical health warnings prompted by KFC’s announcement, I put my affairs in order: I made sure my life insurance was paid up and placed a copy of the policy on my desk. I had an attorney update my will. I called my mom to tell her she was a great mother. I also tucked away a note for my wife, telling her I’d understand if she remarried after a reasonable grieving period — say, 25 years.

Now of course, Tom is more of a low-carber than a paleo guy; though, if you saw Fat Head the Movie, which you must, you understand that his low-carbishness is well informed by his sense of evolutionary human biology; i.e., the natural diet humans evolved on. See, unlike the vast majority of the medical, agricultural, "health," and dietitian communities, Tom doesn't think "Mother nature is stupid," naturally selecting humans with a propensity to eat real foodstuffs that cause their bodies to "want to kill them."

And moreover, Tom is very sympathetic to a paleo guided lifestyle as I practice, even though -- as virtually all other people on Earth -- I don't limit myself exclusively to paleo foods. Tom's particular approach is to focus his energies on the obviously stupid and evil, not wasting his time in attempts to replace conventional dietary dogmatism and fanaticism with another one that starts with 'P'. Here, Tom just took up my "Potato Controversy" for himself. And he even learned something. Sweet potatoes don't make his glucometer explode.

...So anyway, at least in the photos, that sandwich looked rather enticing to me so I went and had myself one, with iced tea, no chips or other side dish. And, I had the grilled version but went ahead and let them put on their doubtless HFCS, 50-franken-ingredient filled "sauce." After all, it wasn't more than a light spread of the stuff. And, the sandwich was OK. The breaded & deep fried one probably would have made me feel bloated, tired, congested and generally like crap for hours. The grilled one made me feel fed, energized, satisfied.

But I went ahead and outdid them yesterday, in a big way. I stumbled upon the idea a few days ago. As I've blogged about previously, I am undergoing a self experiment with professional, paleo sympathetic guidance. While I can't reveal specific macronutrient ratios, which vary in any case depending upon a number of factors, suffice to say that I have to actually track my intake and as you might guess, I often find myself butting up against the limitations on fat. And so, I cook up packages of skinless chicken breast tenders. I was looking for a way to make them a little tastier. Of course, mustard is always an option but it suddenly struck me: French style cornichon pickles. I just eat them right together. Truly delicious; a great way to rescue a relatively dry piece of lean meat. You know, back when I lived in France I always loved a good sandwich jambon beurre. It's a truly simple delight: a crunchy baguette liberally spread with sweet butter and thin slices of jambon, a French style of cured ham. I completely forget where I learned of the variation but one of them is to add in those cornichon pickles and so having a butcher, baker and a market within walking distance of my Mediterranean flat, it was a popular thing for me to eat. Looks like it is for at least 28 other people, members of this Facebook group: Pour la sauvegarde du cornichon dans le sandwich jambon-beurre. Basically: Save the pickle in the sandwich!

Well I can tell you that they are also awesome on my version of the Double Down Sandwich (click for hi-res).

A Better Double Down Sandwich
A Better Double Down Sandwich

This was one large chicken breast, butterflied & grilled, pepper jack cheese, thick sliced butcher counter bacon, and the cornichons. No need for a sauce as the cheese is plenty.

There in the background is a half of one of those evil white potatoes sliced chip style and fried in tallow and coconut oil.

Désolé, mon Colonel.

Comments

  1. I had the grilled with slaw, it was great! Mmmm Mmmm good. I am surprised the thing is bundled with fries, not a salad or slaw.

  2. Sandwich jambon beurre??? That’s bizarre. When I was a kid and we’d have our eggs-and-bacon Sunday breakfasts, one of my favorite ways to eat my bacon was folding my piece of toast around it. We had margarine instead of butter–it was cheaper and we weren’t a high-earning family–but OMG it was tasty. I didn’t know it was an actual French food. (Ironic since my family’s Cajun. Heh heh.) I’ve done the same with biscuits. Obviously with low-carbing I have to skip biscuits *or* toast, although I hope to eventually be able to handle a piece of real sourdough now and again…

  3. Very nice food porn. I shall feast on one of these homemade morsels in just a few weeks. I can’t even imagine how good it’s going to taste :)

  4. I was similarly inspired by the grilled double down, but I pounded out the chicken breast nice and thin before grilling it so it could hold more bacon and cheese. :-)

  5. Indeed. One point that I would make is that evolution is no engineer, as we can see from the oddities of overly complicated processes like fat metabolism:

    http://healthcorrelator.blogspot.com/2010/02/large-ldl-and-small-hdl-particles-best.html

    … and phenomena such as trait dispersion disparity among men and women, leading to things like this – there are more geniuses among men than among women, and more idiots too:

    http://healthcorrelator.blogspot.com/2010/04/there-are-more-geniuses-among-men-than.html

    The more we learn how to use evolution to understand and improve our lives, as opposed to idolize a mythic “cave man”, the better off we’ll be IMHO.

  6. Now I know what I’m having for dinner tomorrow… that looks totally awesome.

  7. gallier2 says:

    Hmmm, hmmm, it’s cooked ham that is used for jambon beurre not cured ham.

    • Wow gallier2. Never actually new that. There’s an upscale market here where I can get jambon (the actual brand ne too) out of Motreal. It is so much better than any other kind of ham.

    • …And I guess that puts it on the pure Paleo list too which is a good thing. Haven’t had any in a long time and now with this factoid in hand I thimk I’ll get me some and see how it behaves in various applicatios other than between two halves of a baguette.

  8. I am definitely going to try the KFC double down at least once!!

  9. I tried both double downs today. I prefer the grilled. While I enjoyed them, I don’t think I’ll be having many more – I prefer Wendy’s doublestacks (meat and cheese only) when I have to eat fast food, but being able to eat it while you drive is a big advantage.

    They certainly won’t become a staple. I may start making chicken with bacon and cheese, but I still prefer my beef, eggs, salsa, and berries.

  10. I can’t bring myself to go to KFC anymore, but I’m glad to hear that you were able to eat it and feel good*. That’s what it’s all about. Now, as for your homemade version: Oh. My. God. that looks so good. I can see myself being really hungry a few hours after a workout or after a long overnight fast and eating that to protein up. Otherwise, 2 breasts would be too much chicken at once for me.

    * Speaking of feeling good, I continue to include black bean soup, hummos, and organic plain yogurt (and certain similar forms of dairy) because I feel good while and after eating them. Despite the purported drawback of legumes and dairy, as long as I don’t get sleepy or bloated after eating these basically wholesome foods, I’ve decided it’s OK for me to eat them.

  11. I tried the grilled version as well, when I was stuck at work the other day without any primal fare. I admit that it was tough to go into KFC, since I can barely stand fast food anymore. But, it was pretty tasty and at least it’s a fairly decent option when in a pinch. Homemade version sounds much better! I’m going to have to try that soon.

  12. This burger would have been cooler had they called it the “Gobble Down.” #5thGradeJoke

  13. Richard,
    how’s the ‘cutting’ going? I half chuckled when I read you’re eating boneless skinless chicken breasts and bumping up against fat limitations.
    I watched one of Jay Cutler’s DVDs the other day. It was quite interesting. He goes into great detail outlining how he eats to prepare for a contest. As far as I could tell, he eats an almost fat-free diet. Body-builders have always been derided when it comes to diet, but boy oh boy, the sure know how to pile on the lean body mass and cut the fat way below 10%.

    Anyway, I’m rooting for you on your cutting phase and look forward to seeing the results.

    • Steve:

      Well, right now it’s just general fat loss. Ripping & cutting should begin to happen in another 5 pounds or so I’d estimate.

      One thing I should clarify is that I am not at all on a low fat diet or doing any protocol resembling what bodybuilders do. What I’m doing could actually be rather sustainable long term, though it would not be my preference (dietary wise; the workouts are something I enjoy like never before and that part will remain in large measure — love ‘em and it’s nice to really look forward to the gym, again). Once I go back to my regular way of eating & fasting, however, I will have a tool at my disposal should things begin to reverse.

      We’ll see.

      The only reason I mentioned skinless chicken breasts & such is because I was sooooo high fat before (60%+) that even a moderate fat diet is quite an adjustment for me.

  14. mmm ill take the wendys trple cheese burger with swiss any day, i dontthin i could bring mself to eat at KFC. but a homemade version sounds yummy…. geez i wish i ha access to bacon, nom nom

  15. KFC grilled chicken contains both wheat and soy as well as MSG (according to their own allergy document). I’m not even sure how they manage to do that, but I think it’s a pretty clear “do not eat this” marker for me personally.

    • Here’s the full ingredient list:

      KFC® Grilled Chicken

      Fresh Chicken Marinated With Salt, Sodium Phosphate, and Monosodium Glutamate. Seasoned With: Maltodextrin, Salt, Bleached Wheat Flour, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Monosodium Glutamate, Secret Kentucky Grilled Chicken Spices, Palm Oil, Natural Flavor, Garlic Powder, Soy Sauce (Soybean, Wheat, Salt), Chicken Fat, Chicken Broth, Autolyzed Yeast, Beef Powder, Rendered Beef Fat, Extractives of Turmeric, Dehydrated

      Pretty much all the stuff that isn’t “chicken” is in the marinade and seasoning.

  16. Tin Tin says:

    That double down of yours looks good. That said, I haven’t seen any food on your website I wouldn’t eat – except the fries :)

    BTW, I noticed the Israeli Defense Forces Fat Loss Techniques ad on your website recently. Are you using any of these techniques? Is this the secret strategy you’ve been hinting at in recent posts?

  17. Tim Starr says:

    Tried the double-down both ways, liked both, but think I prefer the original recipe. First ones I had were too peppery, might just be the particular place I got ‘em. Didn’t feel any difference from the original vs. grilled versions. Would prefer a different cheese, though – if I make ‘em at home, I’m gonna make ‘em w/ Swiss instead of American. Got inspired to try frying chicken breasts & thighs in bacon grease, which worked nicely.

  18. Several months ago, I saw a cooking show called “Primal Grill” — which unfortunately is not associated with the diet/lifestyle at all — and the guy made a calzone with chicken breast instead of bread. It had a variety of Italian meats and some cheese, and he put some herbs on the outside of the chicken breast and grilled the thing up. I’ve been making replicas ever since. So delicious!

  19. Richard, I thought you’d like to see this paleo reference from the Onion. They really seem to nail the human predicament from our perch as the supreme predator: http://www.theonion.com/articles/man-at-very-top-of-food-chain-chooses-bugles,17322/.

  20. Do you ever eat grain fed meat Richard? My predicament is that I only really have access to seafood. Failing that its grain fed meat. No farmers nearby or markets. I was wondering how you would approach this? I stay clear of grain fed meat but you may have a different take on the matter. I also like your take on a lot of matters!

    • Hey Dr Dan.

      Yea, it’s hard to avoid not getting some grain fed in there, but 80% of what I consume is grassfed/finished, from La Cense online or a couple of local places when I can get out there. There’s a number of places that ship. I’ve only tried La Cense, but it’s way excellent. Moreover, the cheap cuts are awesome: flank steaks, hangar, bavette, tri-tip, etc. Ground beef is way good too, as is their liver. I’m sure there are companies that ship to Canada.

      La Cense just ended a special that went on for a couple of weeks: free shipping and $25 off for orders of $200 or more. And if you get those cheaper cuts rather than the steaks, it lasts a long time. Comes thoroughly frozen, packed with dry ice.

      But in the end, I always tell people that grassfed is one of those things one ads along the journey. I personally didn’t consider it important until I did and I don’t think people should sweat it if grassfed is out of reach for one reason or another.

  21. Hi Richard, I like your assessment of this new KFC sandwich. It’s helpful to have options. If I’m traveling for longer periods of time, it’s good to know about. But for shorter day outings, I plan an IF so I don’t need to eat out. I’m not a purist or fundamentalist, I’m just searching for a better way to eat than in the bad old days of SAD. I read all these blogs and all the comments. There is a thread over at Pa Nu that I haven’t been able to enter, yet, and it’s about IF and whether or not it’s healthy or our ancestors did it or not. Here is my response, and I do apologize if you think this isn’t kosher- cross commenting.
    Ever heard of Break Fast? Presently, every person on the planet above the age of about one, periodically fasts for multiple hours every 24 hours. Some have a ‘no-eating-after 7 pm’ rule and if breakfast is at 7 am, that’s a 12 hour fast per day. Are they endangering their health? What about the ‘on average’ eight hour nightly FAST for all the rest of humanity?
    We are intermittent or discontinuous feeders as opposed to continuous feeders like sponges, barnacles and corals, etc. And our ancestors were probably like us, episodic fasters, because I claim they too were sleepers. Sure, we’re less active while we sleep and fast, but we don’t continuously feed while we’re awake and restless either. I don’t buy it that we need to feed on a schedule or with prescribed frequency to ensure particular levels of any nutrient- except for the extreme of starvation, and even for those of us who messed ourselves up with the SAD- before we knew better.
    Maybe extending an 8 hour fast to 12 hours isn’t beneficial, but I’m not convinced that regular IFs of more than 12 hours are ‘un-paleo’ or unhealthy. Back in the bad old days, BT (before Taubes), I was a SAD eating frantic grazer and my digestive system was in the constant state of ‘post-prandial’ land. Now that I’m a converted, low-carb, high animal fat, paleoish IFer, I am happily most often in a ‘post-absorptive’ happy, energetic state.

  22. Sorry, I’m on a roll.
    What is one major difference between our primate relatives, who at one time we shared a common ancestor with, and us? There is this hypothesis called ‘the expensive tissue hypothesis’- brain vs. digestive tract- that I find intriguing. So let’s compare a human and the gorilla. Gorilla’s eat mostly vegetarian and they have to eat and forage practically ALL DAY LONG. They have longer digestive tracts and smaller higher brains than humans. Humans are largely carnivorous and have shorter (less ‘expensive’) digestive tracts and we’ve invented computers, spoken language, complex dwellings and airplanes, to name just a few things. Is it possible that our divergence from proto-gorillas was facilitated by our capacity to intermittently feed because we began eating more meat and fat? Could IF not only be truly pre-paleo and paleo, but also a strong pressured selectant for our evolution? True, gorillas fast when they sleep, a post-absorptive condition, but they don’t have the luxury of spending most of their awake time post-absorptively like we do. They SPEND most of their lives grazing and in post-prandial land. The differences are striking.

    • I agree with you, Laurie, on all counts.

      While I see a benefit to more regimented IF when one is in a rapid fat loss stage, as I did with two pre-workout fasts of 24-30 hrs per week, once one is within normal weight range that’s probably too chronic. Remember, when you’re losing fat you are still getting plenty of energy via your own metabolization of fat.

      Nowadays, a far more random approach is warranted for me and yea, it usually comes down to an eating window. Except on weekend evenings where we might be engaged in activities into the night where food is around, I usually practice an 8pm cuttoff, now. Really helps with good sleep, too. Then I eat when I get hungry which is almost never before 10am.

  23. Might want to take the IF commentary to a thread on the PaNu forums so the folks over there can read and respond. I think that “Prof Gumby” would probably disagree with your characterization of his position.

    You need to email Kurt to be able to post in the comments but anyone can make a thread in the forum. Given the wild off-topicness of IF in the comments both here and over on Panu, a forum thread would be a better spot for this.

  24. So I’m late to the party, but I wanted to say this looks so amazing. I’ve been tempted to try a Double-Down, despite my (non-paleo, non-healthy) husband’s warnings that all the MSG and HFCS would probably trigger a killer migraine. I might just have to try this version!