Southwestern Chicken Salad With Chipotle Chiles

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Chipotles add heat and smokiness to this dish, which can be served as a salad or used to fill corn tortillas for soft tacos. The radishes give a fresh crunch and the avocado gives a cool creaminess.

Ingredients

For the poached and shredded chicken breasts

  • 1

    whole chicken breast on the bone, skinned and split, or 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 pounds

  • 2 ½

    quarts water

  • 1

    onion, quartered

  • 2

    garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

  • ½

    teaspoon dried thyme or oregano, or a combination

  • Salt to taste 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons

For the dressing

  • 2

    tablespoons fresh lime juice

  • 2

    tablespoons white wine vinegar or cider vinegar

  • Salt

  • freshly ground pepper to taste

  • 1

    small or medium garlic clove, minced

  • 1

    scant teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and coarsely ground

  • ¼

    cup extra virgin olive oil

  • ¼

    cup buttermilk

  • 2 to 4

    tablespoons chicken stock from poaching the chicken breasts, as needed

For the salad

  • 1

    whole chicken breast or 2 large boneless skinless breasts, poached and shredded about 4 cups shredded chicken

  • Salt

  • freshly ground pepper

  • 4

    large radishes, diced, plus 2 radishes, sliced

  • ¼

    cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • 2 to 3

    chipotle chiles en adobo, rinsed, seeded and cut into thin strips

  • 8

    romaine lettuce leaves, cut crosswise into wide strips

  • 1

    small avocado, sliced

    Preparation

    For the poached and shredded chicken breasts

    1. Combine the water, the quartered onion and the whole crushed garlic cloves in a 2-quart saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts, and bring back to a simmer. Skim off any foam that rises, and then add the dried herbs. Cover partially, reduce the heat to low and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. (Cut one in half; the meat should not be pink.) Add salt to taste. Allow the chicken to cool in the broth if there is time. Remove the chicken from the broth when cool enough to handle. Remove from the bone and shred, pulling strips of chicken off the top of the breast. Pull with the grain, and the meat comes apart naturally. You should have about 4 cups of shredded chicken. Strain the chicken broth, and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, skim off and discard the fat, and freeze the broth in smaller containers.
    2. Mix together the ingredients for the dressing.
    3. Place the shredded chicken in a large bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss with the diced radishes, cilantro, chipotles and all but 2 tablespoons of the dressing.
    4. Toss the romaine lettuce with the remaining dressing, and arrange on a platter. Top with the salad. Garnish the top of the salad with the sliced radishes and the sliced avocado, and serve.

    Tips

    • Advance preparation: The shredded chicken will keep for three days in the refrigerator.
    • Advance preparation: The shredded cooked chicken will keep for three days in the refrigerator.

      Martha Rose Shulman can be reached at martha-rose-shulman.com.

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