Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Grilled Balsamic Chicken Cutlets over Spinach Salad with Warm Shallot Vinaigrette

Yes, this is an extremely long name for a salad, I agree, but it does provide you with an excellent description of what to expect. Only it leaves out the fact that there is bacon in this salad, which I feel is really a shortcoming, because when you know something has bacon in it, it immediately becomes more exciting, or at least it does in our house.

I made this a few nights ago for me and my husband. We both love, love the Summer Salad with Grilled Salmon recipe we have, especially the dressing. In fact I use this dressing on other salads just because it is so dang good and will last in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

The thing that makes this current salad unique, well a couple of things is again the fact that it uses bacon, which gives it a nice savory addition. It also asks for a few radishes, which I had forgotten are very good. Radishes are not a common ingredient in my house, but they are so tasty that I think they are going to become a more common fare; they are so cute and colorful, but they are crisp and a bit, well peppery for a lack of a better word.

My only advice with this salad would be to pour the dressing on with care. It is very good, but it is very strong and can quickly overwhelm the other flavors in the salad. Also, the recipe does ask for chicken cutlets, which I am sure would be fantastic. However, I just used plain ole' chicken breasts, and it turned out great. So if you don't have any chicken cutlets handy, but do have chicken breasts, go ahead and make the substitution. Okay, okay, enough with my thoughts, enjoy the salad.

I think this recipe would pair well with one of these homemade breads: Master Artisan Bread Recipe, Naan Bread, or Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia.

Grilled Balsamic Chicken Cutlets over Spinach Salad with Warm Shallot Vinaigrette
Recipe from Rachael Ray
Pictures by Caroline
serves 4

1 1/2 pounds chicken breast cutlets (sometimes marked "thin cut")
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, enough to just coat the breast slices
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Steak seasoning blend such as Montreal Seasoning by McCormick, or salt and pepper to taste
4 springs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped, about 2 tablespoons (I used a couple of shakes of dried rosemary)

Spinach Salad:
1 pound center-cut bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 pound fresh spinach leaves, trimmed and cleaned*
8 gourmet white stuffing mushrooms, thinly sliced (I used plain white mushrooms)
8 radishes, thinly sliced 4 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 large shallot, minced
3 rounded spoonfuls Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1. Coat chicken with balsamic, EVOO, seasoning and rosemary and set aside.
2. In a skillet, add chopped bacon – work in two batches if preparing salad for four. Brown bacon over medium-high heat, then transfer the bits to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Using center-cut bacon will cut down on the pan drippings that spatter.
3. Coarsely chop spinach leaves and add to salad bowl. Top with mushrooms, radishes and scallions. Season salad with salt and pepper.
4. Wipe out the bacon pan and return to stove, turning heat back to medium-low. Add one tablespoon EVOO for your dressing and shallots and reduce heat to medium. Sauté shallots for three minutes. Remove oil and shallots from heat.
5. In a bowl, combine mustard and balsamic vinegar. Slowly stream in 2/3 cup EVOO while whisking the dressing to emulsify it. Add warm shallots and toss with spinach salad to coat evenly. Add cooked bacon and toss again.**
6. Pre-heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken cutlets, four minutes on each side, in a single layer. Slice breasts on an angle on your cutting board once they are all out of the pan. Pile spinach salad on to dinner plate/plates. Top each salad with two sliced chicken cutlet pieces.

*Rather than use just spinach, I added some romaine for more texture.
** I would suggest adding half the dressing, tasting, and then adding a little more at a time, otherwise you could end up with too much dressing.

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