This is a perfect dish for you to make right now, as it is a wearer of many hats. It feels indulgent, yet it is much healthier than its namesake. It is fun and impressive enough for company, yet with a little planning, it’s simple to execute. You get to boast a little, and say that you made your own salad dressing, but the dressing requires little more of you than measuring and stirring. Also, it won’t overly heat your kitchen, and this recipe gives you a great excuse to buy a nice chunk of blue cheese.
I found this recipe in a great cookbook called Salad for Dinner, and modified it ever so slightly. I love this cookbook because obviously the focus is on salads, but hearty, satisfying ones (as opposed to attempting to pass off a bowl of lawn for dinner). This Buffalo Chicken Salad sort of epitomizes everything I love about the book. Basically, boneless skinless chicken thighs take a long soak in a sriracha-based marinade, and are then sauteed in butter. The chicken is then served over a simple romaine and celery salad, tossed in a great blue cheese dressing, with extra blue cheese crumbles and scallions for garnish.
I made a few minor, yet pivotal modifications. The first is in the marinade, which is supposed to be apple cider vinegar, lots of sriracha, and paprika. I swapped out sweet paprika for smoked paprika. I was a little trepidatious because the recipe calls for a lot of it (2 full tablespoons), but I would definitely repeat this substitution in the future. It gave the chicken a smokey aroma that was so intoxicating I almost wanted to eat the chicken raw. I also modified the dressing a bit, but retained the concept: a creamy blue cheese dressing, augmented by a bit of red wine vinegar, olive oil, and chopped shallot. I love how the vinegar wakes up the sides of my tongue, and the olive oil adds a distinctive, fruity richness. I recommend using just a tablespoon of minced shallot (one third of what the original recipe called for), and letting it sit the vinegar for a good five to ten minutes prior to adding any other ingredients. This will essentially allow the shallot to pickle slightly, and take away some of the burn. Also, use a good quality blue cheese in your dressing, and as a garnish on the salad. It is truly the star, and all you need is 4 or 5 ounces. I used Point Reyes, and I was not disappointed, but the author also recommends Maytag or Roquefort.
Buffalo Chicken Salad (adapted from Salad for Dinner, serves 3-4)
- 6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup sriracha
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-3/4 inch strips
- 3 romaine hearts, cut into 1-inch wide strips (about 12 cups)
- 6 thinly sliced celery ribs
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 8 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
- Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing (below)
- In a large bowl, combine apple cider vinegar, sriracha, smoked paprika, and kosher salt. Stir to combine, and add sliced chicken. Stir to coat, cover, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.
- Combine lettuce and celery in a large serving bowl, and set aside while cooking the chicken.
- Melt the butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken, and stir fry for about 7-10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and some of the liquid has evaporated.
- Toss the romaine with enough dressing to lightly coat, and salt and pepper to taste. Divide salad onto dinner plates. Top with chicken, blue cheese crumbles, and scallions.
Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing
- 2 1/2 ounces crumbled creamy blue cheese (such as Point Reyes)
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1-3 tablespoons milk or half-and-half
- Combine shallot and vinegar in a bowl and allow it to sit 5-10 minutes while you prepare the rest of you ingredients.
- Add salt, sour cream, and olive oil. Stir to evenly combine. Then add the blue cheese. Gradually add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you have reached a pourable consistency (I used 3 tablespoons of half-and-half). Dressing will keep for about 4 days.
August 8, 2015