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Portillo's fires latest shot in chicken sandwich wars, deploying hot giardiniera sauce

Portillo's fires latest shot in chicken sandwich wars, deploying hot giardiniera sauce

Portillo's fires latest shot in chicken sandwich wars

Portillo's is debuting a new fried chicken sandwich.

After the cola wars, the burger wars, the streaming wars and the chicken sandwich wars, some may wonder if there will ever be peace in our time.

The chicken sandwich wars have been raging since Louisiana-based Popeye's debuted its southern-style fried chicken sandwiches that drew long lines at drive-thrus across the country and often sold out when it debuted in 2019. Since then, fast food chains like Wendy's, McDonald's, Burger King, Sonic, Carl's Jr. and Boston Market have come out with their own version of the sandwich that features bigger, juicier chicken breasts, premium buns, pickles and often at least the option of a spicy sauce. 

Portillo’s is rolling out the most Chicago-possible version of the trendy southern-style fried chicken sandwich, bringing the heat with a hot giardiniera sauce.

Portillo's, known for its Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and pepper and egg sandwiches during Lent, developed a creamy sauce with the pickled relish that's a staple of Chicago cuisine to top off its new Spicy Chicken Sandwich. The restaurant chain, which has locations in Merrillville and Homewood, also offers the sauce on the side to dip chicken tenders, onion rings or French fries in.

The sauce also will be sold by the bottle for $5.99 for a limited time.

In addition to the hot giardiniera sauce, Portillo's Spicy Chicken Sandwich  features fried chicken, tomato, lettuce and a toasted brioche bun.

“This is a delicious new addition to our menu,” said Maria Reichl, Portillo’s VP of Culinary Development and Field Operations. “Portillo’s has always prioritized quality, and this sandwich is no different. It’s spicy, crispy and brings our signature Chicago flair with the giardiniera-packed sauce.”

Portillo's plans to promote the sandwich with a campaign that humorously suggests most people outside of the Chicago area can't pronounce giardiniera. It will feature Kenny G, Brian Baumgartner of "The Office," Erin Andrews, Lance Bass and Cedric The Entertainer.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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