Although I try not to post food photos without the accompanying recipe, two pictures recently found their way in – and of course, those would be the two that piqued the interest of many of you, to the point that I’ve received several e-mails asking for the recipes for these:
So here they are, starting with the chicken (update: here are the cookies!):
This dish is affectionately called “Meg’s Chicken” in our house. Meg is one of my very dearest friends. After my divorce, Meg (who was single herself at the time) would occasionally come up from the city to have dinner and spend the night with me and the kids. Those nights are some of the happiest memories I have of what was mostly a truly horrible time in my life. Meg’s intelligence, devotion, razor sharp wit and always-positive outlook truly rubbed off on me – at least temporarily – during our “sleepovers” and were like a shot of “Mega” (get it?) vitamins every time she visited. She simply refused to accept that I would succumb to what had happened to me, and her single-minded determination to keep me up and afloat is, to this day, one of the most priceless gifts anyone has ever given me.
In return, I gave her…………….dinner.
And of course, a big iced coffee in the morning before putting her back on the train. Her meal of choice was always this dish and I’m happy to share it with you all today.
“Meg’s Chicken” is one of those dishes that is truly more than the sum of its parts. It’s basically panko-crusted chicken strips laid over a bed of greens, and topped with pecans, red onions and cheddar cheese.
Oh, and a pecan-honey dressing that is TO DIE FOR.
You’ll notice that the photo does not show the dish “dressed”. This is not an oversight. The dressing for this recipe is one of the most delicious I’ve ever had, and also happens to be one of the least photogenic – seriously. There is no way to show you this dressing without making you wonder what I was thinking in posting it.
But do me a favor and try it just once – it’s as simple as tossing all the ingredients into your food processor and it truly MAKES this dish something extraordinary. Something worthy of a good friend who has made the trek to see you and lift your spirits.
Just ask Meg.
adapted from Bon Appetit
For the vinaigrette:
½ c. chopped pecans, toasted*
½ c. olive oil
½ c. vegetable oil
½ c red wine vinegar
6 T. honey
¼ c. chopped fresh parsley
1 T. salt
For the salad:
1 ½ lbs. boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips or “fingers”
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 c. (or more) panko, seasoned with salt and pepper
3 T. vegetable oil for frying
salad greens – the original recipe called for a mesclun mix, which I’ve found to be too delicate for this dish – I used red leaf lettuce here but feel free to experiment and use what you like.
2 c. sliced red onions (or to taste)
1 ½ c. grated cheddar cheese
¼ c. toasted whole pecans*
For the vinaigrette: combine all ingredients in food processor and puree till smooth (can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill; rewhisk before using).
For the salad: Dredge chicken pieces in egg and then in panko. Fry in 3T. oil until cooked through and brown, about 3 min per side. Drain.
Toss greens in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Transfer to plates and top with chicken pieces, onions, cheese and pecans. Serve, passing remaining vinaigrette separately.
* To toast pecans – place chopped and whole nuts on a foil-lined tray (I make a little “divider” between the 2, as shown above) and bake in a 350 degree oven till fragrant. This can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes so watch carefully to avoid burning. Let nuts cool before using.
This delicious recipe brought to you by Donuts, Dresses and Dirt