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~ RedHot Buffalo-Chicken Rooster-Crest-Pasta Salad ~

IMG_5757If you are a fan of Buffalo-chicken-style anything, this is a pasta salad you'll crow about.  I admit, the thought of making Buffalo-chicken pasta salad didn't occur to me until I found myself binge-snacking on a few slices of Sunday's leftover roast chicken dipped into a ramekin containing a bit of Friday night's leftover wing-night wing sauce -- that was yesterday.  A few short minutes later, the vision of a Buffalo-style pasta salad popped into my head -- and IT is happening today.

Lucky lovers of all things Buffalo wings:  it comes in many forms.

6a0120a8551282970b026bde921b79200cIn my family alone, Nacho Mama's Buffalo Chicken Sheet-Pan Nanchos, Buffalo-Style Shredded Chicken 'n Slaw Sliders, Spicy Blue-Cheesy Buffalo-Style Chicken Dip, Spicy Blue-Cheesy Buffalo-Chicken Quesadillas, Batter-Dipped Buffalo Chicken & Blue Cheese Subs, Sweet-and-Savory-Glazed Buffalo-Chicken Meatballs, Buffalo-Style Skinny Chicken  Tacos, Almost Effortless Chunky Buffalo-Style Chicken Chili, and, Buffalo-chicken Tortilla Wraps, are ALL crowd-pleasing wing-night or game-day options.  

This afternoon, Buffalo-Chicken pasta salad is on the menu:  

IMG_5705For the pasta and salad:

12  ounces uncooked crest-of-the-rooster pasta (large elbow macaroni or penne may be substituted)

1  tablespoon sea salt, for adding to pasta water

3  cups roasted and hand-pulled meat, preferably dark-meat from 3 roasted chicken leg-thigh quarters

3/4  cup small-diced celery

3/4  cup rough-chopped matchstick carrots

3/4  cup small-diced yellow or sweet onion

1  total cup blue cheese crumbles, 3/4 cup for the salad and 1/4 cup for garnish

IMG_5692For my Buffalo-style ranch dressing (yield: 1 generous cup):

*3/4  cup Hidden Valley ranch dressing

*1/4  cup Frank's RedHot wing sauce

2  tablespoons honey

1  teaspoon dehydrated minced garlic

1 1/2  teaspoons dehydrated minced onion

* Note:  When preparing the 1 cup of dressing, I like the ratio of 3/4 cup Hidden Valley ranch dressing to 1/4 cup Frank's RedHot wing sauce.  That said, if you want your dressing hotter (as in spicier), feel free to adjust it to suit your palate.  Example: 1/2 cup dressing to 1/2 cup wing sauce.

IMG_5693 IMG_5693 IMG_5693~ Step 1.  To prepare the dressing, in a 1-cup measuring container, thoroughly stir all ingredients together.  Set aside, at room temperature, while prepping all ingredients for the pasta and salad.

IMG_5707 IMG_5707 IMG_5707 IMG_5707 IMG_5707 IMG_5707~Step 2.  To cook the pasta, in a wide-bottomed 3 1/2-4-quart stockpot or chef's pan, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil.  Add the 1 tablespoons of sea salt to the water.  Add the pasta and cook, according to package directions, until al dente, 9-11 minutes.  Do not over cook the pasta.  Drain pasta into a colander, rinse it thoroughly under cold running tap water (to remove the excess starch and halt the cooking process), then, spread it out onto a baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper.  Set aside for 10-15 minutes, to dry and cool, meaning:  dry free of excess moisture (not dry out), and, cool to room temp.  

IMG_5688 IMG_5688 IMG_5688 IMG_5688 IMG_5688 IMG_5688 IMG_5688 IMG_5688~Step 3.  After removing the skin, using your fingers, pull the chicken from the leg-thigh quarter bones, into bite-sized pieces.  Transfer the drained and now cooled pasta to a large bowl.  Add the pulled chicken, followed by the celery, carrots and onions.  Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold all ingredients together.  Do not add the blue cheese crumbles at this time.  Add all of the dressing, and, fold again, until all the ingredients are enrobed in this yummy-spicy-creamy concoction.  Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, to give the flavors time to marry.

IMG_5742 IMG_5742 IMG_5742~ Step 4.  At serving time, remove from refrigerator and use the spatula to fold the mixture again, then, lastly, fold in 3/4 cup of the blue cheese crumbles.  Portion and garnish each with a sprinkling of blue cheese crumbles.

Serve each portion garnished w/blue cheese crumbles:

IMG_5764This salad is at its best served the same day it's prepared.

IMG_5770RedHot Buffalo-Chicken Rooster-Crest-Pasta Salad:  Recipe yields 10 cups/6 main-course salad servings.

Special Equipment List:  1-cup measuring container; spoon; wide-bottomed 3 1/2-4-quart stockpot or chef's pan w/straight, deep sides; colander; 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pan; parchment paper; cutting board; chef's knife; large rubber spatula

6a0120a8551282970b0263ec2be1a1200cCook's Note:  This main-dish pasta salad can easily be turned into a side-dish too. Simply prepare it, as directed, omitting the pulled chicken. As a side-dish, it's perfectly-marvelous served with hot-out-of-the-oven: ~ Roasted Buffalo-Style Chicken Leg-Thigh Quarters ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)


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