South Facin’ Cook’s SPICY CHICKEN SALAD by Patsy Brumfield

I love chicken salad, especially with sliced grapes and fresh dill. But I decided to concoct something different with a little “kick” to it. This version will be great, just like you use its more traditional cousin. Adding avocado slices as garnish just makes this one even more interesting. I think your summertime backyard dinner guests will love this. Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of www.NewInNola.com

Photo courtesy of www.NewInNola.com

SPICY CHICKEN SALAD

EQUIPMENT – Large baking sheet, parchment paper, medium bowl, large bowl, chopping board, chef’s knife, mixing spoon, rubber spatula, juicer, microplane, colander, measuring equipment, aluminum foil.

Photo courtesy of www.NewInNola.com

Photo courtesy of www.NewInNola.com

INGREDIENTS:

3 large chicken breasts (bone-in with skin)

3-4 large stalks celery, diced finely

fresh cilantro

6 green onions, diced

1 can low-sodium black beans, rinsed

1 diced tomato

1/3 cup mayonnaise (Helmann’s)

1/3 cup sour cream (with chives, if you can find it)

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (more to sprinkle on chicken breasts)

black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

3/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

2 limes, zest and juice

1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar

ripe avocado for garnish (sliced or diced) lemon juice to keep fresh

LET’S GET STARTED:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse chicken breasts. Lay them skin-side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Salt and pepper liberally. When oven reaches 400, bake breasts for 1 hour. Then remove and allow to cool until you can handle them, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash celery, green onions, tomato. Dice finely. Hold in a medium mixing bowl. Wash cilantro, shake and allow to dry slightly. Wash limes.

In larger mixing bowl, combine mayo, sour cream, salt, cumin, chili powder, pepper flakes, lime zest and juice, and red-wine vinegar. Pour can of black beans into a colander and rinse. Shake well to remove water, then add to the mayo-sour cream mixture.

Photo courtesy of www.NewInNola.com

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When chicken cools, remove the skin and cut into each breast to remove the meat for dicing. Watch closely for a piece of tough cartilage that runs down the side of each breast. If you see or feel it, remove it. Then begin finely chopping your chicken. When that’s done, fold it into the mayo-sour cream mixture.

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Finally, dice your tomato and rough chop the cilantro leaves you’ve removed from the tough stems. Cilantro likely measures 1/4 cup. Fold these into the chicken mixture, cover with foil and let ingredients meld in the refrigerator at least an hour.

When it’s ready, taste to see if you’d like more salt.

Serve on a crisp lettuce leaf or in a warmed pita with shredded lettuce. Add avocado slices for garnish. Serves at least 6.

HANDLING AN AVOCADO

OK, so you may not need help dealing with an avocado. But, if you do, here’s some advice:

First, find an avocado that “gives” slightly to your gentle squeeze at the grocery store. This may be more difficult than it sounds. I’ve found that often the fruit is hard (which is not ripe) or too squishy (too ripe and disgusting). If you find a good one, it will continue to ripen, if you leave it on the counter. It will stop, if refrigerated. If you can’t find a ripe one, get a firm green one and bring it home to ripen on the counter. It may take a few days. You’ll only know by touching it.

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Here’s how to prepare a ripe one: On your cutting board, stand the avocado on one end,. With your sharp chef’s knife, pierce the top at a 90-degree angle to the board (straight down to the seed) and run your knife around the fruit until it meets where you started cutting. Grasp each half in a hand and twist it to pull the halves apart. To remove the seed, sharply stab it with the sharp edge of your knife, hold the half in one hand and then twist the seed away from the flesh. It will remain stuck to your knife until you carefully remove it.

To remove the flesh, grasp one half of the avocado, take a large metal mixing spoon and insert it between the flesh and the peel. Run the spoon under the flesh in a clockwise motion until you’ve lifted it from the peel. Set it aside in a bowl and pour lemon juice over it (or it will turn brown.) Repeat the process for the other half.

Sliced, diced or mashed, it’s hard to go wrong with a ripe avocado.

Editor’s note: All photos in this post are courtesy of NewInNola.com. Thank you for sharing!

About the author

Patsy R. Brumfield is a Mississippi native, who grew up in the hometown newspaper business. After decades of plowing that field and others, she's moved herself to the capital, Jackson, where she's working on a pro-education project and plans to retire to courtroom reporting and sexy political interviews, if you can call that retirement. Her grandmother, the beautiful and willful Rosalie Dial, gave Patsy her first cooking lessons. In recent years, the TV cuisinaries have supplied new information about cooking and a new confidence to help other folks know what makes great food great. We hope you'll enjoy Patsy's foray into cooking, especially Southern cooking. While she's made great strides into the "healthier" aspects of making old recipes new, sometimes there's no avoiding the butter and cream. Just eat smaller portions and ask your favorite doctor about cholesterol meds. We all take 'em, at one time or another. Bon appetite!