Spicy Chicken Salad with Warm Chipotle Vinaigrette

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's hot!!! Too hot to cook, even for me!! Okay fine, you're right, this is another recipe you have to make on a hot stove, but it's light, spicy and worth the minimal heat in the kitchen. ((Insert old cliche: if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen ... wah-wah, I know, lame joke.))

This recipe came from my latest food obsession: Fine Cooking. It's not in their magazine, but online. I try to take decent pictures of my food, but if you want a better visual - go to their website, but please, make sure to come back to mine!

Picky Pants had a birthday recently and I thought this recipe was perfect to make on a special occasion that just so happened to fall on one of the hottest days of the year. Well, think again. Picky Pants wanted chicken fried rice for his B-day dinner. So much for trying to stay out of the kitchen! I made the Spicy Chicken Salad with Warm Chipotle Vinaigrette the next day - and we both drooled over it for a few reasons: It was fantastic! It was pretty and it was spicy!

I'll have to admit the recipe looks a little daunting because there are a lot of ingredients in the vinaigrette. However, with salad dressing getting a bad reputation these days from high fructose corn syrup, trans fats and extra calories, making my own vinaigrette appealed to me on many different levels. It should for you too, c'mon, it's worth a try!
If you remember my post about the rustic Italian flat bread I made last week, I broke two of them in half and served with the salad. I love recipes that make more than I need. I always freeze and have it on hand when I need it. As for the flat bread, I believe I have 6 more pieces for another night. ;) Always nice to have something homemade to serve to guests.

6 oz baby romaine
1/4 lb iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced, washed and spun dry 2 cups
1/2 Cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 chipotle chile (from can of cipotles in adobo sauce) chopped, plus 2 TBS adobo sauce
3 oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
2 TSP light brown sugar
1 TSP Dijon mustard
1/2 Cup plus 3 TBS EVOO
Salt Pepper
2 TBS All purpose flour
2 TBS Fine cornmeal
1 TBS Chili Powder
1 TSP Ground Cumin
1-1/4 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch thick strips
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced into half moons (I omitted these: Picky Pants)
1 ripe avocado, cut into 3/4 inch dice
1-1/2 C cooked fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels (from about 2 ears) (I accidentally forgot these)
1 lime cut into quarters

Toss the romaine, iceberg and half the cilantro in a large bowl. In a blender or food processor, puree the chipotle chile and adobo sauce, sun dried tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar and mustard. With the machine running, slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the oil. Transfer to a measuring cup, season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a shallow dish, mix the flour, cornmeal, chili powder, and cumin with 1-1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Season the chicken with 1 tsp salt and then dredge in four mixture.

Heat 2 tbs of remaining oil in skillet over medium high heat until it's shimmering, about 1 minute. Add half of the chicken strips, evenly spaced, and cook until strips are just cooked without touching for 2 minutes. Cook through until firm to the touch. Transfer to a large plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Reduce heat to medium, add the remaining 1 TBS oil and cook the remaining strips in the same manner
Discard the fat from the pan and wipe it clean with paper towels. Set the pan over low heat, add the vinaigrette and cook stirring witha wooden spoon. return the vinaigrette to a liquid measuring cup and whisk to recombine.

Gently toss the greens with the vinaigrette enough to lightly coat. Portion among four plates and top with the chicken, onion, avocado, corn and remaining 1/4 cup cilantro. Drizzle some of the remaining vinaigrette and serve with lime wedges to squeeze over salads.

Mangia! Mangia!


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