Mesclun & Poached Chicken Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
I feel like I should start by saying that there is bacon in this salad. If that doesn’t draw you in then the mildly bitter leaves of frisée and radicchio offset by the mild flavor of the chard and the sweet and acidic vinaigrette will. It is a beautiful salad that offers an eye-catching mix of colors.
Red wine vinaigrette:
½ cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the salad:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
½ cup shelled pistachios
4 strips applewood smoked bacon
3 stalks chard
1 head Frisée
4 ounces Radicchio
¼ cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
¼ cup shaved truffle Gouda*
In a medium bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, honey, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Vigorously whisk in the olive oil until all ingredients are combined. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Note:The vinaigrette can be made a day prior to serving, and refrigerated in a sealed container or can be made just before serving.)
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise to allow for faster cooking. Place the chicken pieces in a medium saucepotin a single layer. Add just enough water to cover the chicken; add ¼ cup of the pistachios to the pot. Heat over medium heat until the water comes to a simmer; let simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot. Let cool completely then slice into ½” chunks. Discard the pistachios. Refrigerate in a covered bowl until ready to use.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and then a piece of parchment paper. This allows for easy cleanup and the parchment paper prevents the cooked bacon from sticking. Arrange the strips of bacon on the baking sheet. Bake until the bacon is dark golden brown and crispy, about 15 to 20 minutes, checking occasionally. Using tongs, remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool.
Turn the oven down to 350°. Place the remaining ¼ cup of pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the pistachios are fragrant and toasted, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a cutting board. Once cool, chop and set aside.
Wash and pat dry the chard, frisée, radicchio and fennel. Remove the stems from the chard and chop the leaves into large pieces. Add the chard to a large salad bowl. Cut the bottom off the frisée, separate it into leaves, then add it to the salad bowl. Chop the radicchio into pieces, then add to the salad bowl. Thinly slice the fennel bulb using a mandolin (unless you are really confident with your knife skills), then add to the rest of the greens.
Using tongs or serving spoons, toss the salad greens with the vinaigrette, a little at a time so the greens are evenly and lightly coated. Add the bacon, pistachios and chicken, continuing to toss until all ingredients are combined. Top with the shaved truffle Gouda cheese and serve.
Serves 8 as a side salad, 4 as an entrée.
*Truffle Gouda can be found at a gourmet cheese shop or in the gourmet cheese section of most Whole Foods or upscale grocery stores. It can also be found online at freshdirect.com.