Saturday, June 16, 2012

Chicken Salad with Roasted Jalapeno Sauce

At the end of a long week, we had a smattering of leftovers and no clear dinner plan. There was a leftover grilled chicken breast, the end of a pot of Lonesome Whistle Farm Rio Zape beans, a stray avocado that had been too hard to eat earlier in the week, and some fresh radishes from our garden.  

Looking for inspiration, I flipped through Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday and came across a creamy green sauce made with roasted poblano peppers and spinach. I had neither poblanos nor spinach, but I did have a jalapeno and a bunch of cilantro, so I made this variant of the sauce. It was rich, smoky, and tangy, and proved to be just the thing to pull together these disparate items into a refreshing salad that gave the illusion of great foresight and planning. The remaining sauce was also delicious used, as Bayless' recipe recommend, as the topping for broiled salmon. This recipe would work well with other peppers and green, and given its versatility, it's a good one to have up your sleeve as a quick way to embellish a meal. 

Chicken Salad with Roasted Jalapeno Sauce

Jalapeno sauce (makes 1 cup of sauce)
1 jalapeno
8 ounces sour cream
1 bunch cilantro
1 lime
pinch of salt

cooked beans such as Rio Zape or black beans
grilled chicken breast
sliced radishes

1. To prepare the sauce, roast the jalapeno over an open flame or under the broiler until it is charred all over. Put it in a bowl with a plate on top to allow it to steam off the blistered skin for a few minutes. Handle the pepper carefully, or wrap your hand in plastic wrap, and use a paring knife to scrape off the blackened skin. Cut the pepper lengthwise, remove the stem and seeds. Taste a little sliver to gauge the heat (this will vary a lot between peppers). If it's very spice, use half of the pepper for the sauce to start and add more to taste. In a food processor, combine the sour cream, washed cilantro leaves, juice from one lime, and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth, then taste and add more jalapeno and salt to taste.

2. To prepare the salad, plate washed, torn lettuce leaves, top with beans, chicken pieces, radish and avocado slices, and garnish with a generous dollop of the jalapeno sauce. Enjoy. 

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