Tired of your ordinary salad? I promise that this one, topped with spicy fried chicken strips and a zesty red pepper/ tomato mixture, is sure to be anything but ho-hum!
I broke my no-fry rule for this one, and you know what? It was totally worth it! First, the chicken gets a nice long soak in a bath of peppery buttermilk which makes it juicy and tender. Then it gets a quick breading in a mixture of flour, cornmeal and spices, including cayenne pepper which is what helps to give it that extra kick. And though you do have to fry it, it’s more of a pan-fry than a deep-fry, which means less oil and mess and a whole lot of crunchy, spicy deliciousness!!
You could totally just cook up a batch of this chicken on it’s own, but I urge you not to stop there because it goes so well with the lime-spiked tomato and red pepper combo. Besides being extremely easy to throw together, it’ll also alleviate any of the guilt you might have at eating fried chicken!!
The addition of the salad greens goes a long way in that direction and really balances everything out while still keeping it fun!
And if you’re looking to make it even more fun, might I suggest these One-Pan Buttermilk Dinner Rolls? With a dinner like this, even salad grumblers are sure to be pleased!!
Warm, Spicy Fried Chicken Salad
Makes 4-5 servings
Prep Time for Chicken: At least 1 hour to marinate and up to 24; Cook Time: 10-12 minutes; Prep Time for Salad: 15 minutes
For the Chicken
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pinch or two of cayenne pepper
For the salad
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
- 4 plum tomatoes, diced
- The juice of 3 fresh limes
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Large handful freshly chopped parsley or cilantro
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 8 ounces salad greens (I used a mix of baby lettuces and arugula)
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Place the buttermilk and pepper in a large bowl and whisk together. Add the chicken strips, cover and chill for at least a couple of hours and up to 24.
2. When ready to cook the chicken, heat the oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Meanwhile, mix the flour, cornmeal, paprika, salt and cayenne pepper together in a large shallow bowl. Toss the chicken strips a few at a time in the mixture to coat, shaking off the excess and then place them in the hot oil. Try not to crowd the pan too much or the chicken will be soggy instead of crispy. Cook the strips until golden brown on one side and then use tongs to turn the chicken over and cook for a few minutes on the other side as well. Transfer the chicken to paper towels to drain and continue to cook the remaining chicken in batches. Preheat the oven to 250ºF and place all of the cooked chicken on one or two rimmed baking sheets. Place in the oven to crisp up while you prepare the rest of the salad.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the red pepper, tomatoes, lime juice, olive oil, parsley and chili powder. Place the salad greens in a large bowl and toss with the red pepper mixture. Top with the warm chicken strips and serve.
Note: Recipe adapted from The Foster's Market Cookbook by Sara Foster. I tinkered quite a bit with this--left out the cumin and cilantro from the tomato mixture and didn't use avocado. Also, added more spice to the chicken batter and kept the chicken warm in the oven because the warm chicken and cool salad has that great yin/yang thing. Feel free to sub in or out any veggies you like.