Friday, May 11, 2012

CILANTRO ALMOND CHICKEN SALAD

SERVES 8 TO 10 • ACTIVE TIME:20 MIN • START TO FINISH:1 1/4 HR FOR POACHING CHICKEN • 4 large chicken breast halves (with skin and bone; 1 lb each) • 1/3 cup kosher salt • 1 small carrot • 1/2 onion • 1/2 celery rib • 4 parsley sprigs • 2 to 3 qt water FOR DRESSING • 2 cups slivered blanched almonds (6 oz) • 3 garlic cloves • 1/2 to 1 fresh hot jalapeño, coarsely chopped, including seeds • 3/4 cup mayonnaise • 1/2 cup sour cream • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice, or to taste • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, or to taste • 3 cups chopped cilantro • ACCOMPANIMENTS: Mixed greens; roasted yellow, orange, or red bell peppers POACH CHICKEN: • Coat chicken with kosher salt in a large bowl. Let stand at room temperature, turning once or twice, 20 minutes. • Rinse salt from chicken. Put chicken in a large deep pot with vegetables, parsley, and just enough water to cover. Bring just to a boil, skimming froth. Immediately reduce heat and poach chicken at a bare simmer (water should tremble but not erupt in big bubbles), uncovered, 25 minutes (about 160°F on an instant-read thermometer). Remove pot from heat and let stand, uncovered, 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to a clean large bowl and cool. Reserve broth, letting it cool, uncovered, before chilling, covered. • When chicken is cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones and shred meat (you will have about 8 cups). MAKE DRESSING WILE CHICKEN COOLS: • Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Roast almonds in a 4-sided sheet pan until golden and fragrantly toasty, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool. • With motor running, drop garlic into food processor and finely chop. Stop processor and add jalapeño, mayonnaise, sour cream, 1/2 cup lime juice, and 1 Tbsp kosher salt and blend until smooth. Add almonds and pulse until chopped. Add cilantro and pulse just to incorporate. Taste and season with additional salt and lime juice. • Combine chicken with dressing in a large bowl. Moisten chicken salad, if necessary, with a little reserved broth. COOKS’ NOTES:
• If the only chicken breasts you find are smaller, make sure to buy 4 lb and reduce the poaching time. • Chicken breasts will shred most easily and beautifully when freshly poached and cooled, so try to refrain from the temptation to cook and chill the breasts a day ahead before shredding. • Chicken salad keeps, chilled, 5 days. Bring to room temperature before serving. • Leftover broth keeps, chilled, 3 days, or frozen 3 months. It can be used in soups and sauces.

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