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Sous Vide Chicken Salad

sous vide chicken salad

Chicken salad. What can you say about it? Get some leftover chicken, or maybe some fresh, through some mayo and a handful of spices at it, and you’ve got chicken salad, right? Um. No. There is a right way to do a chicken salad and I’ve found it. No kidding. If you’ve never had a sous vide machine (or don’t think you need one), if you like chicken salad, this is the truly only way to make it. Yup. Sous Vide Chicken Salad. So good.

First, my recipe is below, and you can follow that or make up your own. It’s pretty good, especially if, like me, you like a very nice touch of tarragon. 

The key here is how you get to that point. I used four chicken breasts (bone in and skin on), done to 150F degrees (65C), left in the sous vide container about an hour to 90 minutes. Remove them and place them immediately in an ice bath to stop the cooking (for maybe 15 minutes or so) and then refrigerate for at least an hour, so they can soak up the juices that come out of them during the cooking.  When done this way, they come out perfectly done. I think the skin and bone adds some flavor, but that part isn’t necessary.

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Codfish Salad with Guacamole (Sous Vide)

codfish salad

Some day I’d love to see a book focused only on just simple salads. And this codfish salad could go right to the top of that list. As a general rule, in fact, I probably wouldn’t even post this dish here — but for the fact that it shows how even a very straightforward little sous vide can be a wonderful addition to a meal.

The guacamole is pretty simple, but feel free to add more — including a lot of spice if you like that. The salad, with or without a little light dressing is just about whatever you have available. 

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Thai-Inspired Flank Steak Salad

Steak Salad

For some reason, I’ve seen a ton of steak salads recently in magazines, on television and on the web. I’m guessing that it has something to do with the time of year. On a very warm summer evening, a salad that’s worthy of a meal makes a lot of sense. In any case, this steak salad was adapted from several similar recipes I uncovered with a little research. It’s inspired by the flavors of Thailand (or maybe southeast Asia), and it will be showing up on our table frequently for the rest of the summer, you can be sure.

One of the things that makes this recipe interesting to me is that the steak marinade and the dressing are essentially the same. The marinade gets just a little more lime juice and a bit of fish sauce, both of which help tenderize the meat. I used flank steak mainly because it’s reasonably priced and generally always available, but I can think of some other cuts of beef that might work, including flat-iron or skirt steak, or maybe even top round steak.

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Grilled Lamb Meatballs with Tabouleh

Grilled Lamb Meatballs With Tabouleh

Lamb makes fairly regular appearances on our home menu. It’s versatile and I think more flavorful than most other red meat. Lamb works very well with things like mint, rosemary, honey, vinegar, spices like cumin and cinnamon, and dark red fruits and berries. With those affinities, I can create or duplicate recipes that satisfy my taste for the odd bit of exotic without sending the rest of the family screaming out of the kitchen. It’s a win-win. Grilled lamb meatballs are a great illustration. In a household where traditional meatballs often get a “meh,” these are often requested. That’s fine with me, since they’re tasty, easy to make and evoke a middle eastern, mediterranean kind of vibe.

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Shrimp Salad with Lemon Herb Pesto

Shrimp Salad with Lemon Herb Pesto

This time of year, we’re having some very warm days lately, along with the frequent thunderstorms and downpours that always seem to hit in the early evening, right about the the time when dinner is ready to serve. On days like that, it’s nice to have something that’s quick, light and full of summer flavor, but flexible enough to switch from grill to saute pan, should the need arise. This shrimp salad is perfect for that.

Apart from the prep, some of which can be done the evening before, this dish can be on the table in 15 minutes or less from the start. The trick is to make the peas and couscous ahead of time and have them at room temperature, and make the pesto a day or two ahead. Then, a few minutes before dinner, mince the garlic, toss the shrimp with that and some EVOO, and then, if the weather is right, toss the shrimp on the grill or, if not, give ’em a quick saute. While the shrimp cook, plate the salad and as soon as the shrimp are done, you’re ready to eat.

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Crabby Mediterranean Salad

Crabby Mediterranean Salad

Spring has definitely arrived here in the Mid-Atlantic, but it’s still too early for a lot of fresh produce. The notable exception is lettuce and other fresh greens, which are abundant and will stay so until the night warm up too much. So the day after my first visit to the local farm market, I wanted to have a nice Sunday brunch and pulled together this terrific Mediterranean salad topped with a little Fregola Sarda and cheesy artichoke-crab balls.

The crab balls are like a cross between crab-artichoke dip and crab cakes — not too gooey but soft and moist with just a little crunch. The salad combines fresh romaine, olives, a bit of anchovy and a lemon balsamic vinaigrette along with a bit of pasta cooked in chicken stock.

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Salade Nicoise

salade nicoise

It’s that time of year when the family here at Chez Discovery have realized that Spring is coming and we’ve all tacked on some unwanted poundage. It’s an easy formula to figure out. Too little physical activity + too much comfort food = time to do something about that. We’re still a few weeks from the kind of weather that inspires long walks and household projects that require any calorie burning work, so time to think about focusing on the kinds of food that will help to drop a few pounds. This salade Nicoise is one of those healthy, nutrient-dense, fiber rich plates.

As an aspiring cook, I don’t embrace weight-loss diets. I’ve learned they seldom work and almost always make matters worse in the long run. Instead, it’s better to focus on the kinds of food that are filling and satisfying, provide necessary nutrients and are digested and absorbed slowly. This kind of food is difficult for the body to quickly turn into fat. It also has a tendency to curb the snacking that’s so attractive on long winter nights.

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