Shredded Chicken Salad with Almonds & Butterbeans.
Summer just calls for a salad, doesn’t? There’s no two ways about it. When the sun is hot and the grass is calling, a stew just won’t do. While that feels almost uncomfortably blasphemous to type as a Welsh Valleys boy, it’s true. The summer just calls for a salad and this is a light yet curiously punchy salad to fit such a time. I am aware that I am British and that the sun is seldom hot… but we can do it in spirit, can’t we?
But to start with let me just say this… I hate chicken breasts. There, I said it. I have never understood everyone’s fascination with a chicken breast. I only tend to use a chicken breast when I am either slicing it for a stir fry or if I am poaching it – as used in this recipe. Other than that, I find a chicken breast to dry out very easily. I also happen to find it ugly? Does anybody else feel like that? A chicken breast is just not very poetic on the plate. Whatever, enough breast bashing – I say all that to say this recipe uses a poached chicken breast and is much better for it.
I don’t like doing a lot of cutting with a salad. As lazy as that sounds but I feel virtuous enough having the salad in its own way without feeling the need to exercise, so some gently stabbing at leaves is enough for me. That’s why a poached and shredded chicken was perfect for this salad as it made everything much more harmonious to eat.
Unfortunately I don’t have a ‘before’ picture of the ingredients as this was made on a spur of the moment and thrown together using bits that were lying around. This recipe is also permissive in its accompaniments. Please feel free to substitute the butterbean for whatever pulse you have, I included them for texture only. I also use rocket because the sweet tang of the chicken and the meaty bite of the pulse just needed a strong vehicle, but rocket isn’t everyone’s cup of tea so substitute with whatever leaf you see fit.
Bring a pan of water to a boil before squeezing in the juice of a lemon (and then chuck the lemon husks in), a generous sprinkle of sea salt and a chicken breast. Bring this back up to the boil before lowering to a summer for 20 minutes. During this time, commence the assembly job of your salad by starting with the draining and rinsing of a can of butterbeans.
In a small jug, whisk together a teaspoon of English mustard (Coleman’s, always) with a small splodge of honey and a tiny pinch of salt. Leave this to one side. Toast up some flaked almonds in a dry pan and once they start to colour slightly and let off a nutty aroma, remove from the heat and leave to one side. Assemble your chosen salad leaves on to a plate before tossing over the butter beans. Drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil – not too much, just enough to kiss the leaves.
Once the chicken has had it’s 20 minutes remove from the pan and drop on to a plate before patting dry with some chicken paper. Now, using two forks, begin shredding the meat by dragging your forks over it in opposite directions. Once the chicken has been shredded, pour over the honey mustard mixture and give everything a good stir before grinding over some fresh black pepper.
Strew the shredded chicken over the leaves before generously sprinkling over the toasted almonds. Eat outdoors with a white wine and regret nothing.
Like I said, I am the first to curse the summer for the influence it has on my eating. I am built for hearty meals, stews, real Wintery food – however there are some days in a summer where a salad just fits the bill. Disclaimer time – this will also be lovely in the pouring rain. I know I have some American readers who will look at this in absolute pity, but alas, a rainy day salad will still taste as sweet.