Sunday, August 18, 2013

Smokehouse Chicken Salad

Sunday chicken and Sunday salad! It is really the best of both worlds right? Plus this chicken will help me out with salads for lunch this week as well as midweek dinner sandwiches. Yesterday was an outstanding day here in K.C. Somehow, I talked the Bear into bringing out the smoker to help me prep meat for the week. It has taken a little bit of practice to get smoking meat down. The first time we used our smoker, we smoked one of the hardest meats to prepare- brisket. The brisket turned out alright, but needed to be finished in the oven. Our main problem was keeping a good constant heat going for hours and hours. All meat hits a stalling point in which you either need to keep the heat going or remove the meat, wrap it in foil, and finish it in the oven for another couple of hours. This is fine, however, we like the flavor more if we can keep it on the smoker longer. To help with this problem, we purchased a charcoal chimney this summer. This allows us to get charcoal quickly started when we need to add additional coals to keep the heat going. I think we finally have it down now which is exciting in hopes that we can utilize our new talents as we approach football season.

I kept the chicken pretty simple, as I know not everyone has a smoker. You could easily substitute rotisserie chicken from the deli or roast your own in the oven. I chose to smoke ours because I love a good smoked chicken. Chicken is one of the easier meats you can smoke, but not without a few tricks. My trick is to brine the chicken overnight in a cooler filled with ice. To make the brine, I simply boil 4 cups water with 1/2 cup salt 1/2 cup brown sugar. When the sugar and salt dissolve, I add 4 cups cold water, 1 sliced orange, 2 bay leaves, and a few sprigs of fresh sage. Then, I place the chicken over the ice in the cooler, pour the cooled brine over the chicken, close the cooler, and let the brine work its magic. When we are ready to smoke the chicken, I pat it dry, tie the legs and wings with butcher's twine, drizzle the chicken with extra virgin olive oil, and rub salt and pepper all over the chicken. No magic rubs. No magic spice. The brine already did its thing just like a marinade would do. While there are a few steps, it really is very easy and worth it to keep the chicken nice and juicy while it spends its time on the smoker. We then smoked the bird low and slow for around 7 hours before a meat thermometer stuck in the thigh of the bird read 165 degrees. After letting 'er rest for about 1/2 an hour, I removed the skin, pulled the meat off the bones, and placed the delicacy in a resealable container for storing. So good and so very worth it!

I can't even begin to tell you about all of the flavors in this salad. Fresh veggies and herbed buttermilk dressing brighten the smoky chicken. A drizzle of tangy BBQ sauce brings everything together for a salad that truly sings.

Smokehouse Chicken Salad

For the dressing:

1/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
2 tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more if you like)

For the salad:

1 bag pre-washed and cut lettuce
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup carrot, chopped
1/4 cup tomatoes, chopped
2 cups smoked chicken or rotisserie chicken, chopped
1/4 cup gluten-free BBQ sauce (I used KC Masterpiece Bourbon flavored sauce)

To make the dressing, simply place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Serve with the salad. To make the salad, simply layer all ingredients in a large bowl or divide among four plates. Drizzle the dressing and BBQ sauce on top and serve.

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