Roasted Chicken Caesar Salad with Homemade Dressing

Homemade Caesar salad for dinner last night, and it is my favorite and I will eat a bowl of this every day forever.  Seriously, I could eat the dressing with a spoon.  Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but when I was whipping it up, I tested it using one of the stems of a lettuce leaf (the middle part that we usually don’t use) and ended up dipping and eating the entire stem.

This is how to make it:

Ingredients
1 head of Romaine lettuce
1 skin-on chicken thigh
1 tsp rosemary
Dash of salt
Dash of pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
½ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup cheese (Pecorino Romano, Parmesan, or Monterey Jack)
¼ cup fat-free Greek yogurt
1/8 full-fat mayonnaise
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp soy sauce

Serves 2

Start with a defrosted chicken thigh.
You might actually start with trying to defrost two chicken thighs.  Because you don’t have a microwave, you will put them in a bowl still in their plastic freezer baggies and run water over them until they’re no longer frozen.  When they should be just about defrosted, pick up one of the bags and scream, because the chicken thigh is a dark orange color and completely disintegrated and runny.  Then realize you mistakenly grabbed a baggie of pumpkin puree from the freezer, and your chicken hasn’t liquefied.  Decide to continue making chicken Caesar salad for two with only one chicken thigh.
Now heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and preheat your oven to 350.  While that’s heating, dust your chicken on both sides with a bit of rosemary and some salt and pepper.  When the pan is ready, put your thigh skin-side down in the pan and let it sizzle for about 10 minutes until golden brown.  If you’re using an oven-safe pan, put the whole thing in the oven.  If not, transfer the thigh to an oven-safe dish, still skin-side down.  Cook for about 20 minutes, or until juices run clear.
In the meantime, wash and dry your Romaine head. Tear into medium-sized sections and divide evenly between two plates.

Image

This is what your chicken breast should look like when it’s done.

Now for the dressing.
I’ve made Caesar dressing the classic way before—anchovy filets, egg yolk, all of that.  This is much nicer to make because it has no raw egg and I don’t have to open a tin of anchovies.
Take your Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, and soy sauce and mix well.  Taste it.  If you want more tang, add more mayo.  More zest, more lemon juice.  Saltier, more soy sauce.   The Greek yogurt is just for a creamy texture, so use more or less depending on how fluid you like your dressings. For a really thick sauce, don’t use the olive oil.  I just added it in as a thinning agent and to counter some of the lemon juice.  The proportions above are pretty true to what I did, and I thought it was perfect.

Once your chicken is done, transfer it to a cutting board and let it cool slightly.   Leave all of the chicken drippings and olive oil in the pan, and add a tablespoon of butter.  Once the butter is completely melted and foaming, add your breadcrumbs.  Breadcrumbs are awesome to make!  They get all woolly-looking and puffed up like a roux.  Which I guess this kind of is, but with crumbs instead of flour.  If they’re too damp, add more breadcrumbs until the oil and butter are completely soaked up and the crumbs are a dark toasty color (dark brown is good; black is burned).  Toss or stir the crumbs in the pan every so often to prevent too much clumping.  You don’t need to toss constantly, so use this time to grate your cheese of choice.  Once the breadcrumbs are done, take the pan off the heat.

IMG_1181

Breadcrumbs!

To assemble, slice the chicken and lay it out over the lettuce (or butcher it again.  Either one.  As long as it’s in bite-sized pieces).  Sprinkle your breadcrumbs and cheese on the lettuce, and finish with a big whopping drizzle of the dressing.  Serve to your husband and yourself.  Have him call the dressing “better than real Caesar dressing,” where “real” means both bottled AND the classic recipe.
Make again tomorrow.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good picture of the whole chicken-breadcrumbs-dressing salad because I started eating it immediately.

Health up: instead of breadcrumbs, use toasted bread chunks with a drizzle of olive oil. Toasted seeds work well for crunch, too. Forego the cheese, or use an especially flavorful variety and use less of it. Chicken breast is okay instead of thigh, too, or removing the skin from the thigh.

Veganize: raw avocado instead of chicken; olive oil instead of mayo; soft tofu or vegan yogurt instead of Greek yogurt (or even pureed and watered-down garbanzo beans); salt your lettuce leaves instead of using cheese.

Per serving:
Calories: 520
Carbs: 34 g
Fat: 31 g
Protein: 29 g
Fiber: 8 g

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4 Responses to Roasted Chicken Caesar Salad with Homemade Dressing

  1. Lauren G. says:

    So glad this post involved screaming. If you are screaming when you are cooking you are definitely doing something right 🙂

  2. phavlatka says:

    I’m totally going to use this! However, a question about the dressing: Do I have to use all of the listed ingredients? Greek yogurt and mayo are icky : /

  3. hfgreen says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one, Lauren. After fires, liquified chicken is definitely the scariest cooking event that’s happened to me in a long time.

  4. hfgreen says:

    Phav, you definitely have to use every single ingredient just like that or else nobody will like your salad.
    Or you could also use canola oil with a twinge of Dijon mustard instead of the mayo (or the traditional raw egg yolk), and sour cream instead of the Greek yogurt. Your call.

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