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10/18/2020

~Buffalo-Chicken Chef w/RedHot-Ranch & Croutons~

IMG_6447I fell in love with the chef salad in September of 1974.  I had just moved to Happy Valley in August, and, my first friend, a gal I worked with, invited me to lunch, at the now defunct Autoport on South Atherton Street.  "Try their turkey chef salad", Sally said.  A short few minutes later, two big rimmed-bowls arrived, and, atop the requisite lettuce, they were full of goodies: strips of turkey breast and Swiss cheese, hard-cooked egg wedges, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, and, diced onions.  There's more.  Every salad came with a warm, mini-loaf of house-baked bread and a crock of honey butter.  For decades, every time I invited a friend to lunch, I took him or her there.

Girly pub grub?  You bet.  Meet my Buffalo-chicken chef salad:

IMG_6454In my food world, if I could conjure up the ideal, somewhat-healthy, girly pub-grub menu item, it would be a chef's-type Buffalo-style-chicken salad.  It would be served to me while sitting in my favorite sportsbar, in front of a straight-out-of-the-tap frosty brew with a college football game on the flatscreen.  Nothing fancy, just a bowl full of crisp lettuce, diced carrots and sliced celery tossed with salty blue cheese crumbles and topped with strips of thin-sliced Boar's Head, Blazing Buffalo-style chicken, plus, crunchy, Buffalo-spiced croutons.  There's more.  When it comes to dressing my salad, it's got to be full of RedHot Buffalo wing-sauce flavor blended with the creamy-dreamy coolness that only Hidden Valley Ranch dressing can offer -- the best of both worlds.

If you're willing to go the extra mile to make the croutons:

6a0120a8551282970b026be41c06e9200dOne could call me obsessed for baking a loaf of bread for the sole purpose of making Buffalo-seasoned bread or Buffalo-seasoned croutons for a deli-sandwich or a chef's-type Buffalo-style chicken salad.  In my defense, when the bread machine does all the work for me, why wouldn't?  Trust me, "my cheese has not slid of my cracker".  There's just something so very special about appropriately-seasoned croutons scattered atop an ingredient-specific salad or soup that speaks volumes about the cook, and, Buffalo-style is a prime example.

... don't drop the ball when it comes to the dressing:

IMG_6405My RedHot-Ranch dressing, perfect for this ingredient-specific salad, takes less than five minutes mix together.  It's a simple concoction of 3/4 cup Hidden Valley ranch dressing, 1/4 cup Frank's RedHot wing sauce, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon dehydrated minced garlic, and, 1 1/2 teaspoons dehydrated minced onion.  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 the dressing spicier, feel free to adjust it to suit your palate.  Example: 1/2 cup dressing to 1/2 cup wing sauce.

It's time to make my Blazing-Buffalo chef-style salad!

IMG_6418For each main-dish Buffalo-chicken chef's-style salad:

3  cups torn iceberg lettuce leaves, tossed with (see next line item):

1/4  cup each:  thin-sliced carrots, thin-sliced celery, thin-sliced red onion

4  ounces thin-sliced Boar's Head blazing-Buffalo chicken breast

4  tablespoons Boar's Head blue cheese crumbles

a generous drizzle RedHot-Ranch dressing

a generous scattering Buffalo-Ranch-seasoned croutons

IMG_6423 IMG_6423 IMG_6423 IMG_6423 IMG_6423~Step 1.  To assemble each salad, toss together the lettuce, carrots, celery and onion and place in a large, shallow salad bowl.  Scatter the blue cheese crumbles atop the lettuce mix.  Arrange the Buffalo-chicken breast over the surface of the salad.  Drizzle generously with the RedHot-Ranch dressing, then garnish with a scattering of croutons.  Serve ASAP. 

Stick a fork in the girly chef salad that her guy loves her for:

IMG_6446Buffalo-Chicken Chef w/RedHot-Ranch & Croutons:  Recipe yields 1 cup dressing/6 cups croutons/4 main-dish salad servings.

Special Equipment List: 2-cup measuring container, bread machine, serrated bread knife, 12" nonstick skille and 2 large nonstick spoons (for making croutons); 1-cup measuring container and spoon (for making dressing); cutting board and chef's knife (for making salad) 

6a0120a8551282970b0263e96fd01a200bCook's Note: What started in 1964 as late-night pub grub at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, deep-fried chicken wings, is now found in many forms.  Truth told, there's not much that Buffalo-style chicken can't do, and applying Buffalo wing sauce to oven-roasted chicken leg-thigh quarters, or, stirring it into previously roasted or poached chicken is the perfect way to transition this iconic game day snack into all sorts of other appetizers, sandwiches, main or side-dish salads, or, main-dish meals.  Trust me, as a lady who loves her deep-fried wings, but, only in the privacy of her own home (where she's free to lick fingers, smack lips, pick teeth, and, drip sauce), my Buffalo-Style delicacies are every bit as enjoyable as wings. ~ How Many Ways Can One Say Buffalo Wing Style ~?

"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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