Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Crunchy Chicken Salad Sandwich with Raw Kale Salad

What do you do when you have one chicken thigh that you want to spread over two lunch servings without making some sort of stew thingie? Chicken salad sandwiches!!

But first, let's start with the kale salad, as I made that while the chicken was cooking.

Raw Kale Salad

I love this salad because it's ridiculously easy, lasts in the fridge for a few days and tastes great. It's also full of vitamins or something.

Working time: 5-10 minutes

6 cups shredded/chopped kale (spines removed)
1/2 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste

Let's do it!
Put the oil, lemon juice (keep the seeds out, or the salad will have some bitter surprises for you) and kale in a big bowl. Put in a dash of salt. Using your hands, squeeze and mush up the kale until it's all mixed and it looks like you have about 1/4 of what you started with. Taste, salt (if needed). That's it. Really. That's it. And as an extra benefit, the lemon and olive oil feel great on your hands, I usually just give my hands a quick rinse after without soap, since it feels so nice. On the downside, you will discover that you have a tiny cuts all over your hands during this process.

Crunchy Chicken Salad

This is my first time making this, but not the first time making a chicken salad. To me chicken and egg salads need a few things: protein, onion, something crunchy and something creamy. Instead of the usual boring (and nutritionally empty) celery, I subbed in a nice tart and tasty green apple.

Working time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

1 chicken thigh
1 green onion, cleaned and chopped into thin slices
1/2 green apple cored and diced
1/2 cup of cucumber, diced
1/2 lemon
1 tsp grainy mustard
1-2 tbsp mayonnaise (to your taste)
Optional: Chopped up cilantro would add a pretty wicked kick to this. Too bad I forgot to buy some.

Let's do it!

Rinse and season the chicken with salt and bake in a toaster oven at 350ºF for about 20 minutes. If you don't have a toaster oven, you can cook it on a pan. It's done when you can pierce it to the bone and the liquid runs clear. If you're not sure, err on the side of undercooking. You can always cook it a little more, but you can't save a burnt, dried out chicken. You can also use chicken breast if you're really believe that fat has no place in your life (of which I heartily disagree). When the chicken is done, set it aside to let it cool down.

Meanwhile, chop up the green onion, apple and cucumber and mix them in a bowl. Squeeze half the lemon over it (again, keep the seeds out by squeezing through your other hand) and mix.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin (or dice it and add it for extra flavour). Reserve the juices. Tear all the meat off the bone and chop it up finely. Mix the chicken, mustard, mayo and 1 teaspoon of chicken fat (yes yes YES) into the other stuff.

Quick tip: Get a big zipper freezer bag and store all the bones from the meat you cook. Ideally, you should be cooking with meat attached to bones, since they're cheaper and more flavourful. Once you have a decent amount of bones, you can simmer them with onions, carrots, garlic, herbs and celery for some stock which you can use for soups, gravies, stews... basically anything that requires a stock. You can freeze that stock into single servings in smaller freezer bags. I'll post a how-to on stock sometime soon.

For the sandwich portion of this meal, I bought Vietnamese sub buns from the Asian grocery store (4 for $1!) You can use whatever bread you like.

For all the people who hate mayo out there (*cough* Asians *cough*), it's possible that you actually hate Miracle Whip, which is not mayo, but some kind of quasi-edible abomination. Many people in my mom's generation don't differentiate between the two, so it was probably the MW (which really needs to tone it down) that ruined all the potato salads and sandwiches of your childhood. Give it a shot, you might be surprised.

Quick tip: This recipe is also a great way to use up leftover meat. Just sub that in for chicken, unless it's got some kind of heavy sauce on it, in which case, just slice it up and eat it in a sandwich!

Lunch it up
To package, keep the kale, filling and bread separate in order to keep the bread dry. Put it together at work. If you have a toaster at work, you can toast the bread before putting in the salad. Prepare for your coworkers to marvel at your lunch, and poke at their freezer-food meals in disappointment.

This is a great meal for a hot day. The cucumber and green apple really add a coolness and freshness to the sandwich. I'd recommend this sandwich for the heat of summer, as opposed to a cold and wet spring day. Brrr...

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