Saturday, September 8, 2012

My mother's sautéed chicken salad

The weather in New York now is annoyingly warm and wet. Even if it's not outright hot, it's muggy enough to send rivulets of sweat down my neck and make me take frequent trips to the freezer for ice. I wanted something cooling and light to eat... so I went to the farmers' market and got some very ripe tomatoes to make this - my favorite summer meal as a child, as my mother always reminds me.

for two people:

1 chicken breast
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour for dusting
2 tablespoons olive oil for frying

1 large ripe tomato
half a small onion
some vegetables of your choice (red peppers, yellow peppers, zucchini... in small amounts)
Salad leaves (about 2 oz. per person - any kind you like. I used iceberg lettuce here.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons apple vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt

First we'll saute the chicken.

First, cut the chicken breast into slices about half an inch thick or thinner. You could also use chicken tenders - the fillets inside the breasts - in which you don't have to slice; you just remove the white sinewy part. Salt lightly and pepper generously with freshly crushed pepper.

Sprinkle some flour on it and evenly coat all of the meat. you can do this in a plastic bag or a bowl, of course, but I found it easier to just do it on my cutting board. Not too messy.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and cook the chicken over medium high heat until nicely golden on both sides. If you prick it with a fork and a clear colorless liquid comes out, your chicken is done. If some slightly pink or clouded liquid comes out, it's underdone.

That's a nice color. Remove from the pan, slice into bite-sized pieces and set aside while you assemble the salad.

Cut the onion into rings as thinly as you can. Put them in a bowl, and add the oil, vinegar and salt. Mix well. The onions will become a little limp and have less bite after a few minutes.

In the meanwhile, cut your ripe tomato into 1-inch chunks. Add it to the onion dressing mixture, mix well. If you are using other vegetables (I used a quarter of a sweet red pepper and a few slices of green zucchini) slice them thinly and add to the mixture. Something yellow or green would be nice, just for color effect.

Rinse a few leaves of lettuce and give it a spin in the salad spinner to get rid of excess water. Tear or cut into smaller pieces and arrange on a plate. Place the chicken on the lettuce, and spoon generous amounts of the tomato-onion-dressing mixture over it. You can add three or four spoons of the liquid as well.
Serve immediately with a crusty bread - goat cheese would be nice too. You can make the salad-dressing mixture in advance and keep it in the fridge. I would keep the chicken at room temperature; it would get tough and chewy in the fridge. It's a light cooling meal, perfect for these nasty sticky days on the east coast.

Stay cool!


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