Greatest Salad EVER!

worlds greatest saladThat’s what my youngest son thinks, at least. Being 13, he may be a bit prone to hyperbole, but I am pretty sure it is at least in the top 100. I had a fairly cheap late harvest Riesling with this, and it was a fantastic summery meal. This is a variation on a salad recipe that I read somewhere recently and then recreated and expanded on from memory. I would credit the original, as unrecognizable as it might be from this recipe, if I could remember the source.

Start with three chicken breasts and half them, slicing as you would if you were butterflying them. On a large cutting board spray a small amount of water and then lay out a good sized sheet sheet of plastic wrap. Give that a little spray of water, as well. Place one of your chicken pieces in the center, spray another equally sized sheet of plastic wrap and lay the wet side down on the meat. Using a meat mallet, flatten the chicken so that it is a fairly uniform thickness.

Technique is important while flattening the chicken pieces. The plan is to get them to the correct thickness, not to beat them to a pulp. To do this requires a little strategy. What you are trying to do is to get the thick parts to the same thickness as the the thin parts. Use your mallet, flat side, please, to simultaneously lightly hit and push out to the edges. This works fast and does not require much force.

Once the chicken is to the desired thickness, cut the chicken into strips and place in a bowl or a bag. Add buttermilk to cover all of the chicken. Add 1/2 tbsp of each of the following; garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and black pepper and them scrunch it all around. Let this sit for 30 minutes or so.

Place a large non-stick pan over medium heat and pour in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan once it is hot. Take the buttermilk drenched chicken and roll in panko bread crumbs until well coated. Gently add the chicken pieces once the oil begins to smoke a little. Cook on both sides until golden brown. Take care not to crowd the pan, and cook the pieces in shifts. Once they are cooked and drained, place into a 250 degree oven to keep warm.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and add 1 tbsp of butter along with 4 sliced garlic cloves and 2 slices shallots and stir often, taking care to not let anything burn. As soon as you see even the slightest bit of color on any of the garlic deglaze with 1/2 cup of white wine. Reduce until the wine is mostly gone and then add 1/2 cup chicken stock and continue reducing. Once the liquid is reduced to about 1/4 of the original amount add roughly 20 halved cherry (or other small) tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in a 1/2 cup of thinly sliced strips of basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, mound a good handful of raw baby spinach on each plate and spoon some of the hot reduction over the top. Add some room temperature crumbles of goat cheese and then arrange some of the chicken strips around the spinach in a spoke pattern.

By the way, the aforementioned 13 year old is an avowed salad hater. Something he mentioned a few times around mouthfuls of both helpings of this salad.

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