Spicy Chicken Salad
Here are two great options for some home-cooked Mexican Chicken Salads! The first is a traditional Chicken Taco Salad, and the second relies on some Spicy Cabbage Slaw.
- 2 chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotles
- 1 tablespoon chile powder
- pinch of Mexican oregano (optional)
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/4 cup Kosher or sea salt (for the brine)
For the Taco Salad:
- 1 head Iceberg lettuce
- 1 head Romaine lettuce
- 3 cups crispy tortilla strips
- 1 can corn (optional)
- 1-2 cups cheese (I used Queso Fresco)
- freshly chopped cilantro
For the Avocado Dressing:
- 2 avocados
- 10-12 sprigs cilantro
- 1/2 garlic clove
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- juice of 2 limes
- 1/2 cup water (plus more if necessary)
For the Curtido:
- 1/2 head green cabbage
- 1 carrot (optional)
- 1/2 onion
- 1/2 jalapeno
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1.5 cups water
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
To brine the chicken, add 1/4 cup salt to a quart of water in a mixing bowl. Dissolve the salt and add the chicken breasts, letting them brine for 30 minutes or so. If the chicken breasts aren't fully submerged then add a bit more water. I usually cover and put them in the fridge. Once brined, pat dry the chicken breasts and add them to a baking sheet. Bake at 400F for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink inside (160F).
Once the chicken has cooled a bit you can shred it with two forks and add it to a mixing bowl along with: 2 tablespoons adobo sauce, 1 tablespoon chile powder, a pinch of Mexican oregano (optional), and some freshly cracked black pepper. Combine well.
For the Taco Salad, start by making the Avocado Dressing. Add the following ingredients to a blender or food processor: the flesh of 2 avocados, 10-12 rinsed cilantro sprigs, 1/2 peeled garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup water, juice of 2 limes. Combine well and take a taste, adding more lime and cilantro if you want. If it won't combine readily simply add another splash of water. Cover and keep cool until you need it.
For the cripsy tortilla strips I baked some corn tortillas, but feel free to use tortilla chips, fried corn tortillas, or crumbled taco shells. To bake corn tortillas, spread a thin layer of oil on each side of the tortillas and bake for 8-9 minutes in a 350F oven. I usually flip them after the first 4 minutes and then take a peek after another 4 minutes. Keep in mind that you'll have the best success with thin tortillas as thicker tortillas won't crisp up as readily. More on baking corn tortillas.
I used Iceberg and Romaine for the Taco Salad, but there is leeway on the lettuce type. Be sure to give the lettuce a good rinse and drain it well, then chopping it up into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Keep cool until you need it.
Finish prepping any other fixings you'd like to serve up in your Taco Salad. I crumbled up some Queso Fresco, and drained and rinsed a can of corn.
To serve the Taco Salad, I prefer adding the fixings on top of a bed of lettuce in a smaller bowl so that you don't have to intermix everything before chowing down. For bigger groups I would consider lining up an impromptu salad bar so people can build their own masterpieces. This helps keep distinct temperatures and textures in the salad and I think it tastes best that way.
If you'd like to make the Chicken Salad version with Curtido, see the original Curtido post on how to make a batch. It's easy and you are basically just adding shredded cabbage to a seasoned vinegar brine. Typically you'll need to let the Curtido rest overnight in the fridge to get full flavor.
For the Curtido salad, I combine the Curtido with some Romaine lettuce and then top with the Spicy Shredded Chicken, Queso Fresco, freshly chopped cilantro, and some Avocado Dressing (optional). I think the Curtido version tastes best when the shredded chicken is cold, i.e. hello leftovers!
Calories: 630kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 42g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 1860mg | Potassium: 1808mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 15869IU | Vitamin C: 68mg | Calcium: 384mg | Iron: 4mg