Sunday, July 26, 2009

Creamy Herb Dressing with Two Uses (a.k.a. Grilled, Breaded Chicken and salad)

Lately, we've been working on the part of our cookbook that we call "Two-Use Sauces." It's a kind of clumsy name for one of my favorite sections (suggestions?). It's sort of a salad dressing chapter, but it's so much more than that. In each recipe we make a no-cook sauce, usually a vinaigrette, and then divide it in half to use as both marinade and salad dressing. Sometimes there's a slight variation to the sauce to make it better for one thing or the other. This buttermilk herb dressing - yes, it's pretty much Ranch - is so good that whenever I make it I want to spread it on everything - potatoes, crackers, vegetables, hot wings...

Creamy Herb Dressing with Two (or more!) Uses
makes about 1 cup - enough for the chicken marinade and the salad dressing, or serve with a plate of hot wings or crudites

3 garlic cloves
6 sprigs fresh herbs
3 T sour cream
3 T mayo
1/4 c cider vinegar
1/4 c buttermilk
1/3 c olive oil
1/2 t mustard
salt & pepper

1 c fine, dry breadcrumbs
2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
salad greens and salad accessories (tomatoes, avocado, etc...)

  • Start by making the dressing. Grind the garlic, herbs (I usually use rosemary, thyme, and oregano but you can also add/combine in basil, cilantro, dill, tarragon, etc...), salt, and pepper in a Cuisinart or something like it (or if you want to go low-tech, chop everything extra fine, put it in a jar, and shake it very very well). 
  • Add the rest of the elements, but just half of the oil, and blend. Taste to adjust salt and pepper. 
  • It should be a little strong right now, which is perfect for a marinade. Reserve about 1/4 c of the dressing for the salad and pour the rest over the chicken.
  • Finish the dressing by blending in as much of the remaining oil as you want.
  • When you're ready to cook the chicken remove it from the marinade and give it a little shake to get off the excess. Have the bread crumbs ready in a shallow bowl and coat the chicken on both sides.
  • Grill the chicken by first using indirect heat* for about 10 minutes per side. Move the chicken over the heat to toast the breadcrumbs for about 2 minutes per side (or until you like the color).
  • Compose your salad and eat!
*This just means that you keep it to the sides rather than over the flames so that the bread crumbs don't burn. You're basically using your grill like a very flavorful oven.
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