There was a time that on each and every Friday, I would have lunch with my good friends Sandy and Vanessa. I can’t tell you how many times we ordered this chicken salad at a place on Main Street in Pleasanton California called Tongs. I don’t even know if the restaurant is still there, but the memory of that salad and our fun Friday lunches stays with me even today, many years later and many miles away from my girlfriends.
I love this salad so much recreated my own version of the salad we used to order at Tongs and included it in my first cookbook Signature Salads(2005). I cook the bone-in chicken breasts the same way Tongs did, leaving the skin on, and pan searing before finishing in the oven. The cooked chicken is sliced thinly and tossed with a Chinese mustard vinaigrette in a confetti mixture of romaine, Napa cabbage, cilantro, and radicchio. Chopped peanuts add the finishing touch.
While this was once my go-to Friday girlfriend lunch, it is now my go-to busy weeknight family meal. My daughter is in the middle of lacrosse season right now, which means lots of games (which I love to watch!) and not a lot of time for dinner preparation. When you get home from the game everyone is starving and then there is still homework they have to do. If you have kids, you definitely know what I mean.
There is never enough time,that’s why I love things like this. I can get the ingredients prepped early in the day and just toss together when we get home. —-And in 80+ degree temperatures, a really nice salad makes everyone happy and does the trick! Hope you like it too.
Dressing: 1 egg yolk 3 teaspoons Chinese dry mustard powder
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1½ teaspoons honey
Salt and Freshly ground pepper
3 bone in, skin on chicken breasts
2 tablespoons peanut oil
Salt & freshly ground pepper
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1 head romaine lettuce, thinly sliced 1 head radicchio, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup chopped peanuts
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large saute pan over high heat. When the pan is hot, add the peanut oil and heat until almost smoking. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook 4 minutes. This skin should be golden brown. Turn the chicken over and place in the oven. Roast until the chicken is just cooked through and the juices run clear, about 15-20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the bones and slice into thin strips.
Add the chicken and salad greens to a large bowl. Add dressing and toss well to combine. Divide among plates and garnish with chopped peanuts.
Pretty poblano peppers, stuffed and lined up all in a row. When I looked down at them sitting in their vibrant red sauce, I knew I needed to grab a quick picture before they went into the oven. I wasn’t planning to do a post about them, but after I shared this picture on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter, I had requests for the recipe.
So here we go, with just one picture that will have to do, taken on my iphone.
When we first moved here from California the only place you could find poblano peppers was in the latino market we had in town. Not exactly around the corner from me, but when I wanted to take care of my Mexican craving, I would make a point to drive out and get them. Thankfully a lot has changed since then, and all of our grocery stores carry a wide variety of chile peppers. I still can’t figure out why they don’t seem to know the code when I get up to the register though, or what the pepper is called…? Even if I have to wait while the checker calls for help, I don’t mind (too much), because I am grateful they have them for me to roast when I get home.
I roast poblano peppers and stuff them with all sorts of things like shrimp & goat cheese, roasted vegetables & Monterey Jack, Corn & Feta…the list goes on. It usually comes down to what I have in the refrigerator at the time, and then it all comes together. They are a favorite in our house regardless of the filling, and they are popular with me too, because on busy days I can prepare them ahead and pop them into the oven just before dinner.
So here you go, Chicken & Quinoa Stuffed Poblanos with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce. I hope you like them!
Chicken and Quinoa Stuffed Poblanos with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (4 servings)
8 large poblano peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 pound chicken Italian sausage, removed from casing
3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups cooked quinoa
¼ cup chicken broth
Salt & pepper
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup minced shallots
2 cloves chopped garlic
4 red bell peppers (may use jarred roasted red peppers)
1 cup chicken broth
Salt & pepper
Line the top oven rack with aluminum foil. Place peppers on foil under broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in foil 10 minutes. Peel chilies. Using small sharp knife, carefully slit chilies open along 1 side. Remove seeds, leaving stems attached.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, red peppers and sausage. Use a stiff spatula to break the sausage into several pieces. Cook until chicken sausage is cooked through, about 7-8 minutes. Add garlic; cook and stir an additional minute. Add cooked quinoa and chicken broth, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Remove from heat.
Carefully spoon filling into peppers, pulling up sides of peppers to close slightly. Ladle enough Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (recipe follows) to cover the bottom of a 13x9" pan. Place stuffed peppers atop sauce. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 20-25 minutes, or until heated through.
Line the top oven rack with aluminum foil. Place peppers on foil under broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in foil 10 minutes. Peel, seed, and coarsely chop bell peppers.
Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, and chili; sauté until shallots are tender, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly. Transfer mixture to blender; add bell peppers and chicken broth. Puree until smooth. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm over medium heat before serving.)
One of the many things I miss about living in California is the Mexican food. Sure we have Mexican restaurants here in Richmond, but none that measure up to the ones I left behind, like Tony’s Jacal in Solana Beach. Around since 1946, they are a family business offering up home cooked specialties like Pulled Turkey Tacos, Chile Rellenos, and some of the best Chicken Mole I have ever had. –Their margaritas are pretty good too…
Tony’s is far far away from here, and the visits back to California don’t come often enough for me, so when I am craving Mexican, I do my best to recapture those flavors by cooking my favorites at home. Not the same, and I don’t have Solana Beach out my back door, but I do manage to come close, and Jeff”s margaritas are pretty killer.
Mole is made with a combination of chilies, spices, nuts, and chocolate; ingredients that are simmered together to produce a sauce that is rich, complex, and velvety smooth. Chicken and turkey are natural partners for mole sauce, and pretty amazing when shredded and wrapped up together in a warm tortilla.
My labradoodle Lilly thinks Chicken Mole Tacos are pretty special too; ( notice her nose in the upper right of this photo? ha ha ) she was really interested in what I was doing while shooting the pics for this post.
Mole freezes very well, so I like to make a big batch. When I have a busy day and need a quick dinner, I will pull some of that mole out of the freezer and pick up a store bought rotisserie chicken to shred. Though they aren’t Tony’s Jacal tacos, they are a family favorite around here, and help satisfy my craving for authentic Mexican cooking.
2 ounces dried pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces, rinsed
1 ounce dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces, rinsed
⅛ cup raisins
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ of a 3.1-ounce disk Mexican chocolate, chopped
Warm flour tortillas
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, chopped
2 cups thinly sliced romaine leaves
½ of a small red onion, finely chopped
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add chicken to pot; sauté until lightly browned, adding more oil by tablespoonfuls as needed, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to large bowl.
Return chicken and any juices to pot. Add broth and orange juice; bring just to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until chicken is tender and just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter, reserving cooking liquid until cool enough to handle. Coarsely shred chicken.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown, about 18 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add almonds, garlic, cumin, and coriander. Sauté until nuts and garlic begin to color, about 2 minutes. Add chiles and stir until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.
Pour reserved chicken cooking liquid into saucepan with onion mixture (reserve pot). Add raisins, and oregano to saucepan. Cover and simmer until chiles are very soft, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat; add chocolate. Let stand until chocolate melts and sauce mixture cools slightly, about 15 minutes.
Working in small batches, transfer sauce mixture to blender and puree until smooth; return to reserved pot. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm over low heat before serving.
Place 2 tortillas on each plate. Spoon shredded chicken in the center of each tortilla. Spoon desired amount of mole sauce over chicken. Top with romaine lettuce, avocado, and red onion