Jamie Oliver's worst nightmare: Tasting the KFC Double Down
It's not a sandwich for lightweights. Technically it's hardly a sandwich at all.
KFC's new Double Down sandwich is two thick pieces of boneless white-meat chicken with monterrey jack and pepper jack cheese, two slices of bacon and "Colonel's sauce" in between. As KFC says in the commercial, "it's so meaty there's no room for a bun."
Meaty it certainly is. I asked the KFC lady her opinion of it, and she winced in response. "No... ," she finally said. "It's good. It's just a lot of meat." With this bread-less sandwich getting much more hype and Internet buzz than Paris Hilton (Remember her? Didn't think so) could ever dream of drawing these days, I had to try this beast though.
After a couple minutes of hesitation, I picked up the chicken mass and took a bite. It just tasted like a normal (though boneless) breast of KFC chicken. I assumed I had somehow missed the middle ingredients, and bit again. More chicken.
If I expected to immediately feel my arteries thicken (and to be honest, I kinda did), the sandwich was normal, in that it did not cause an immediate shutdown of my internal organs. (At least, not yet.) The chicken, while not bad — particularly if KFC is up your alley — overwhelms the taste of the cheese and bacon to make them almost pointless. When pressed I will say they added a hint of zest and creaminess to the Colonel's original recipe.
What the Double Down most resembles, in actuality, is a fast food version of a chicken cordon bleu. The grease is upped but the flavor profile is certainly familiar. I couldn't make it halfway through one, but it's essentially the same amount of chicken as one of the oversized breasts KFC serves in a bucket, just repurposed.
Still, for a chain that rebranded itself KFC instead of Kentucky Fried Chicken to downplay the unhealthy image, it's a downright bizarre choice to be rolling out while Jamie Oliver and Gracie Cavnar are attempting to remake American diets away from foods like this.
And while I'll never stop thinking there is something inherently wrong with a fried chicken bun, as far as numbers go, the Double Down doesn't come close to the biggest restaurant offenders. It's 540 calories and 32 grams of fat (on the fried version, the grilled sandwich has 460 calories and 23g fat) make it objectively healthier than Burger King's Whopper (670 calories, 40g fat) or a Chipotle burrito (which, with typical ingredients, can top 1,000 calories and 40 grams of fat).
That's probably why KFC is happy to post these numbers so prominently on its Web site — look! It's not that bad! (But there's no mention of cholesterol, which might be the real killer.) But these numbers should probably serve to steer us away from Burger King or Chipotle rather then send anyone flying into the fried-chicken-loving arms of KFC.
Would I eat it again? I'm not going to go out of my way, but if trapped at a KFC it's hardly the worst option. But still, I'll concur with the KFC employee. It's a lot of meat.