The marinade was a mix of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, dry vermouth, orange juice, five spice powder, seeds from cardamom pods, minced garlic cloves, and strips of orange zest. Chicken breasts were covered with the marinade and refrigerated for several hours. To use excess marinade for the dressing, it’s later boiled and reduced to a syrup. I actually reduced enough to use for both the dressing and to baste the chicken while grilling. I grilled a bell pepper until charred, let it cool, peeled and seeded it, and cut it into strips. I used green beans and blanched them before draining and rinsing with cold water. Halved shitakes were sauteed in olive oil. The chicken was grilled and basted then allowed to cool before slicing. For the dressing, some reduced marinade was mixed with olive oil, lime juice, and some honey. Typically, when a dressing recipe includes honey or maple syrup, I skip it. Here, a little honey really brought everything into balance nicely. Without it, the dressing was a tad salty. To finish, mixed salad greens were tossed with the sliced chicken, bell pepper, shitakes, green beans, cilantro leaves, and dressing. The plated salads were sprinkled with sesame seeds.
This is a perfect meal for salad season as I like to call the hot months. The dressing is a nice mix of big flavors that work well with the lingering smokiness of the chicken and peppers. I also discovered that some leftover slices of this chicken were great on a sandwich with more greens. I won’t stop reading all sorts of cookbooks, but I do love knowing that every page of this one is fair game. So to speak.
Smoky Chicken Salad with Roast Bell Peppers, Shitake, and Sugar Snap Peas
Recipe reprinted with publisher’s permission from A Bird in the Hand.
For the marinade:
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup dry vermouth
1/3 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp five spice powder
seeds from 2 cardamom pods, crushed
2 garlic cloves, crushed
strip of orange zest, white pith removed
For the salad:
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 red bell peppers
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
4 oz. sugar snap peas
16 shitake mushrooms, halved if large
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
good squeeze lime juice, to taste
about 1/4 tsp honey, to taste
5 oz. mixed salad leaves
small bunch of cilantro (optional)
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade. Put the chicken in a dish and pour the marinade evenly over it. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for a couple of hours, but ideally 24 because this really will improve the flavor. Bring it to room temperature before cooking.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Halve and seed the bell peppers and put them into a small roasting pan. Brush with a little of the regular oil and roast them in the hot oven for about 35 minutes, or until tender and blistered. Once cooked, cut into slices lengthwise. If it looks as though the skin is about to peel off you can remove it. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.
Preheat the broiler to high. Lift the chicken out of the marinade and put it on a foil-covered broiler rack (the foil really just helps make it easier to clean later). Cook under the hot broiler for 12 minutes (6 on each side), brushing every so often with the marinade.
Cook the sugar snap peas in boiling water for 1 minute, then drain and run cold water over them. Heat the tablespoon of regular oil in a skillet and quickly saute the shitake mushrooms until they are golden.
Reduce the marinade by boiling until it is syrupy. To make the dressing, mix 3 tablespoons of the reduced marinade with the 3 tablespoons of virgin oil, a good squeeze of lime juice, and a little honey (both to taste). Slice the chicken diagonally and toss with the leaves, the warm dressing, strips of bell pepper, sugar snaps, shitakes, and cilantro, if using. Throw on the sesame seeds and serve.
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