Chinese Chicken Salad with Bitter Greens

In the summer heat, we opt for cold meals and barbecue as much as possible. This salad has been one of our go-to’s in rotation, ready to be grabbed out of the fridge and tossed with a bit of the delectable dressing. It’s a simple use for a small amount of leftover chicken, which in our house usually means white meat, since the dark gets eaten first.

It’s an old classic, but with a few twists to the dressing, it gains the umami and punch to stand up perfectly to bitter greens. Of course, for me, that means heading to the hillside for dandelion, plantain, and other wild greens. I still like to include napa cabbage for the refreshing crunch, although that could be sourced from other cabbages or thinly sliced kale. I mix it up.

This dressing is extremely versatile, and the salad can easily be assembled ahead for a nice picnic at the lake, or just to keep the kitchen cool on one of these blistering days.

Oh and one last thing: I don’t miss the chicken when I go without. I usually just throw in a few extra veggies.

Chinese Chicken Salad with Bitter Greens

Note: If preparing chicken for this salad, rather than simply using leftovers, I marinate the raw breasts or thighs in soy sauce and the ginger peel for one hour before grilling.

1/2 cup neutral oil, such as vegetable or avocado

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

2 T ginger, peeled and minced (see note above)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1-1/2 T cilantro minced, plus 1/2 cup loosely chopped

2 T sesame seeds, toasted and divided

2 T brown sugar

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded into bite-sized pieces (see note above)

1 small napa cabbage, sliced cross-wise 1/3-inch-wide strips

2 big handfuls of dandelion greens, tough ends removed, sliced into 1-inch-wide strips

3 radishes, slivered

1/2 cup snow peas, sliced into bite-sized pieces

1/3 cup scallions, sliced

1/3 cup chow mein

1/4 cup sliced almonds

At least an hour before the meal, combine the oil, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, minced cilantro, 1 teaspoon of the sesame seeds, and the sugar in a small bowl and whisk briskly for 15 seconds. Set aside, stirring occasionally as you prepare the rest of the meal.

Grill the chicken according to the note above, if desired.

Layer the remaining ingredients in a large serving bowl, sprinkling the sesame seeds over the top. To allow for crisp, enjoyable leftovers, allow each person to dress their own salad. Otherwise, toss well and serve.

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Chili Con Carne

At the beginning of the week, we like to make a sizable pot of food that makes great leftovers for lunches and to share with my dad: split pea and ham soup, baked beans, beef stew. The weekend temperatures finally dipped down to near-freezing, so a spicy pot of chili con carne was perfect to warm the kitchen and our mouths and bellies.

We like things spicy, and this dish definitely is. However, plenty of sour cream and cornbread temper the burn, and the flavors are rich and marvelous. If you’d prefer a milder stew, increase the standard chili powder and omit the cayenne. And while we use a wide variety of chiles in this recipe, any combination will do, so using 6 to 7 tablespoons of whatever you have on-hand is fine.

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*Tip: If a dish ever comes out way too spicy, don’t panic or toss the pot. Just add a little sugar. You won’t taste any sweetness, but it will ease the heat. Beware of salt as it will have the opposite effect.

Chili Con Carne

2 T chile de arbol powder

2 T pasilla chile powder

1 T New Mexico chile powder

1 T chili powder (standard mix)

1 t cayenne

Salt

Black pepper

Water

1 T neutral oil, such as vegetable or canola

4 Lbs beef chuck roast, trimmed, in 3/4-inch cubes

2 cups beef broth (preferably homemade)

3 onions, chopped medium

1 poblano pepper, trimmed and seeds removed, chopped medium

1 anaheim pepper, trimmed and seeds removed, chopped medium

8 medium cloves garlic, minced

2 t dried oregano, crumbled or powdered

26.5 oz can (or similar amount) chopped tomatoes

26.5 oz can (or similar amount) whole tomatoes

Combine the spices, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper in a bowl. Add enough water to make a pourable paste, about 1 to 1-1/2 cups. Set aside.

Generously salt and pepper the beef. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottom pot on medium-high heat. Brown the beef in uncrowded batches and move the cooked meat to a plate. After a few batches, when a crust forms on the bottom of the pan and before it turns too dark-brown and burns, pour off the fat, reserving 1 tablespoon, and deglaze the pot with the beef broth, scraping up all browned bits. Reserve the deglazing liquid. Return the tablespoon of beef fat to the pot, bring back to temp and brown the remaining beef. Move all cooked beef to the plate.

With the fat now remaining in the pot, add the onions and peppers. Cook for 4 minutes, scraping the pan well to remove browned bits. Then cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and sweat the vegetables for 10 minutes.

Remove the lid, return the heat to medium-high, and stir in the garlic and oregano. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the spice paste. Cook for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes, crushing the whole ones with your hands as you add them. Add the reserved deglazing liquid and beef and bring to a simmer.

Cover the pot, reduce heat to low, and cook for 2 hours or until the beef is tender and flavors are married. If it begins to stick to the bottom of the pot add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of water.

Serve with sour cream and fresh lime, cilantro, scallions, or chopped red onion, and a side of corn bread.