Thursday, April 9, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers - Chinese "fire drill" Chicken Salad

This recipe will forever be remembered as the one that brought the Hoover, Alabama Fire Department to my house.  Nice fellas.

So, I had just popped the chicken breasts into the oven and was starting to walk away when it sounded like the Rice Krispie men were inside there with the chicken.  I opened the door to flames shooting up in the back of the oven.  Can you say F.R.E.A.K.O.U.T.  My brain totally left my body.....WTF am I supposed to do?  Throw something on it?  Is it a grease fire?  Is it electrical?  So I dialed 911 and asked the operator how to put it out.  She said, "You don't.  Get out of the house."  Well in the meantime, I regained some of my brilliance and shut the oven off.  Within a few seconds the flames started dying out.  So I tell the operator that the fire was out and that she can cancel the fire department.  No such luck.  Once they're called, they come running.

By then, I figured out that the lower element had burned up and Hoover's finest assured me that there was nothing further to worry about, made me feel not quite so stupid and went on to more important things.  Luckily, I have more than one oven in my house and got to finish making something I wasn't that excited about making in the first place.  I'm not a huge lover of Chinese food so I was lukewarm on this one.

I should know better than to doubt Ina.  I actually loved this.  And so did my traditional chicken salad loving niece, Charlotte.  I had read the musings section on BB's website and everyone was cautioning on the high sodium content, so I did not add any of the salt called for in the original recipe.  In the end, I thought mine lacked salt, so I would change that next time.  I also think Ina tends to put too much dressing on her salads.  I made the dressing as written (which is delicious) but only ended up using half.

This salad is wide open to variations....I think I may add some snow peas next time.  Make sure you check to see what the other bloggers did with theirs!

Thanks to McKenzie of Kenzie's Kitchen for this weeks selection.

Here's the recipe:

Chinese Chicken Salad
2001, Barefoot Contessa Parties!, All rights reserved
Show: Barefoot ContessaEpisode: Back to School


4 split chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on)
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound asparagus, ends removed, and cut in thirds diagonally
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded
2 scallions (white and green parts), sliced diagonally
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted

For the dressing:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup good apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub with the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred the chicken in large bite-sized pieces.

Blanch the asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain. Cut the peppers in strips about the size of the asparagus pieces. Combine the cut chicken, asparagus, and peppers in a large bowl.

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Add the scallions and sesame seeds and season to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.


  1. OH MY GOODNESS! I'm sorry, I can't help but laugh because I have my own very funny story about the heating element going out in the oven. My brother was visiting with his family a few years ago and I had just thrown some chicken in the oven and the thing burst in flames with my brother standing in front of it. He had NO IDEA. I stood there screaming and pointing to his lower half because I couldn't articulate what was happening. He thought I was playing a prank on him... but finally realized that there was a fire in the oven directly behind his rear end. Ohh... good times.

    I think the salt has everything to do with your soy sauce. Some people use common soy sauce that is very salty... others use the lesser known but better brewed stuff that can lack salt.


  2. WOW! That would have been scary! Good to you for going through with it and making it despite the fire! I am with you--way to much dressing on those salads, so I used less than half. This one had great flavors.

  3. Funny story! I was home alone recently preparing dinner for company when a pipe burst under my sink and I couldn't shut the water off. I went running from the house and grabbed a guy walking his dog and screamed "my house is flooding!" Luckily my husband arrived home about then and found the valve outside of the house. By that time we had an inch of water coating the kitchen and dining room floors and the drapes were wicking up the water. Not the best dinner party I ever had! And the poor innocent bystander. Good for you to keep on trucking.