Makes 4 servings
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Total preparation time: 40 minutes
The chicken in this salad isn’t really fried. It’s soaked in buttermilk, breaded, and sauteed. It is, however, evocative of fried chicken. It’s juicy. It’s crispy. It’s delicious – and it’s much less caloric than actual fried chicken. I learned about the tenderizing effects of buttermilk from my Southern viewers, who soak their chicken in buttermilk before dusting it in flour and deep frying it. This recipe calls for boneless, skinless white meat chicken – which cooks up quickly but is difficult to keep moist. The buttermilk soak saves the day. The salad is filled out with fresh corn and tomatoes. It’s nice and summery.
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper
1 pound thin-sliced chicken breast cutlets
4 ears corn, husks removed
1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons rinsed, dried, and chopped fresh mixed herbs (tarragon, chives, parsley)
1/2 garlic clove, minced (about 1/2 teaspoon)
2 beefsteak tomatoes, sliced 1/3-inch thick
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup dried bread crumbs from Bread Crumbs Four Ways (recipe follows, add prep time) or packaged
6 cups loosely packed arugula or your favorite lettuce, rinsed, dried, and torn into bite-size pieces
Combine 1 cup of buttermilk, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Add the chicken and let marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large kettle over high heat. Add the corn; return the water to a boil. Remove the corn immediately and set on a plate to cool slightly. Cut the kernels from the cobs.
Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk, the mayonnaise, herbs, and garlic; add salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Sprinkle the tomatoes on both sides with salt and let drain on a rack.
Heat half the oil in a large skillet over high heat until hot; reduce the heat to medium-low. Place the bread crumbs on a pie plate; remove half the chicken from the buttermilk and dip it in the bread crumbs to coat well. Add to the skillet and cook until golden on both sides and just cooked through, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in oven. Repeat with remaining chicken and bread crumbs. Slice the chicken into 1/2-inch strips.
Arrange a bed of arugula on each of 4 plates; top with slices of tomato and a mound of chicken. Sprinkle with corn and drizzle with the dressing.
Dried Bread Crumbs: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Break 4 slices (about 4 ounces) homemade-style white toasting bread into 1-inch pieces and spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until they just begin to turn golden; stir occasionally and check to make sure they don’t get too dark. Turn off the oven and allow the bread to stay in the oven until dry through, several hours or overnight. Once the toasted bread pieces are dry through, process them in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade until fine crumbs have formed, 45 to 60 seconds. Store the crumbs in an airtight container and use within two months. Makes about 2/3 cup. Hands-on time: 4 minutes. Total preparation time: 20 minutes plus drying time.