Eric’s Special

All photos by Laura Hobbs
Last weekend, I set out to blatantly copy Hugo’s signature sandwich, the Derek’s Special. The delicious, juicy chicken, the toasty bun, the melted Swiss, the salty bacon and the sweet n’ spicy honey mustard.

Sitting in Hugo’s a few weeks ago, while patiently waiting for Hubs’ arrival, I found myself jotting down Foodie ideas for the coming months in my trusty orange notebook. Among the otherwise top secret content was an idea that I’ve mulled over for a while: Take a classic Fayetteville restaurant menu item, and give it a go in my own kitchen. But what would I choose? Pesto pasta from the Pesto Café? Yum. A rack of ribs from Herman’s? Double yum. A Burrito La Huerta from you-know-where? Triple yum… Or triple yikes. Turns out, the answer was staring me right in the face.

Kaiser Rolls

As Hubs and I agonized over our lunch choices, I kept coming back to the Derek’s Special as an all-time favorite. An oldie-but-goodie. A tried-and-true-player. An honorary—Oh, hell. You get the point. Hubs eventually decided on the Reuben, and I went for the Derek’s Special. As always, we split the sandwiches and a basket of the fries, a/k/a golden fried crack in stick form, and shoved the potato chips to the side. (Sorry, Hugo’s, I always forget to hold the chips. Very wasteful. Sincere apologies.)

When my plate arrived, I carefully inspected each and every inch of my sandwich: this is a habit of mine, which I do 99% of the time when I eat out – I think it’s part anticipation, part admiration, and part compulsion. During my inspection, a light bulb went off: Derek’s Special, à la Foodie.


I made quick notes of the ingredients: Kaiser bun. Marinated chicken. Swiss. Bacon. Honey mustard. Lettuce. Tomato. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing unattainable. I enjoyed my lunch thoroughly, and in my sandwich-induced euphoria, I even thought about attempting to recreate Hugo’s French fries for a nanosecond. “Get real,” a little voice in my head said, “don’t even go there.” Duly noted, little voice. Duly noted.

So last weekend, I set out to blatantly copy Hugo’s signature sandwich, the Derek’s Special. I even went so far as to make my house look as Hugo’s-esque as possible – I turned out all the lights, made a skylight in the ceiling with these funky glass bricks, put greasy old pictures and tin signs up, lined my walls with ancient pipes that lead to nowhere and started referring to the toilet as “the commode”. It was, like, so realistic. Then I got my backside into the kitchen and got to work.

Swiss Cheese

Because I had to blindly guess at the marinade behind the “marinated chicken”, I used an old standby recipe of mine: soy sauce mixed with a little vinegar, olive oil, garlic, honey and oregano. I love this combination on chicken, as it imparts a salty, mildly sweet twang, mixed with some seriously garlicky undertones. The marinade is powerful stuff, so be careful not to overdo it here; an hour or two is all the chicken needs to soak up some major flavor.


Honey Mustard Mix

Once you’ve got your chicken marinated, you’ve essentially got this recipe in the bag. The rest is child’s play: Grill the chicken. Grill the bun. Place grilled chicken on grilled bun. Dress your sandwich in corduroy and denim. Wait, what? Seriously, y’all. If you can stack Lincoln logs, you can make this sandwich.

Although Hubs and I ate our Specials with a side salad (which we were desperately trying to imagine as Hugo’s French fries, and it just wasn’t happening), the flavors were definitely there. The delicious, juicy chicken, the toasty bun, the melted Swiss, the salty bacon and the sweet n’ spicy honey mustard. Take a shot at this easy recipe in your own kitchen. Just forget the skylight part – it’s a hassle. Enjoy!

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Eric’s Special

(for two)

Download this recipe

2 medium chicken breast, pounded to 1/2″ thick and marinated
2 Kaiser rolls, buttered and grilled
4 slices bacon, halved and cooked
Swiss cheese, sliced
honey mustard
butter for the Kaiser rolls

For the marinade:
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. honey
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Pounding the Chicken

In a medium bowl, combine the marinade ingredients and stir well. Add the pounded chicken breast, flipping to coat. Cover and marinate for 1-2 hours.

Light a grill. Over medium flame, grill the marinated chicken until cooked through, about 7 minutes per side. While the chicken is grilling, split and butter the Kaiser rolls. When the chicken is almost done, add the cheese on top of each piece of chicken, as well as the Kaiser rolls to the grill. Carefully toast the rolls, and melt the cheese over the chicken. Transfer to a plate and tent gently with aluminum foil.

Assemble the sandwiches with the bacon, lettuce, tomato and honey mustard while the chicken is still hot and the rolls are still warm. Dig in.

* If the above slideshow doesn’t load, you can view all the photos from this recipe on Flickr.

Laura Hobbs
Laura is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She was born and raised in Fayetteville. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and avid cook. For more of Laura’s contributions, see her Flyer Foodie author page. For more cooking, recipes, and other food-related inspiration, visit Flyer Foodie on Facebook.