The Day of Chicken Salad and Massive amounts of Chili
So, Saturday evening we realized we were almost out of chili at the café and I would need to make more. We had all the ingredients, but for some reason or other (putting in 16 hours a day 6 days a week perhaps?) I just didn’t feel like working on the 3 hour project on Sunday. Instead I did my very best to stay off my feet and fritter away my time doing nothing that even hinted at being productive at all.
This, of course, led me to today’s fun. Not only did I do the usual prep-work, make salads, sandwiches, etc. I also had to start the process of making the chili (browning the ground beef, stewing, peeling & chopping the tomatoes, etc.). Then I remembered that a customer wanted some of the chicken salad that I made on Saturday – just because I was hungry and I had extra chicken that I hadn’t used in the Swiss Chard Soup. Alberto liked it so much he bragged about it to the customer, and gave him a taste. Fortunately I DID do one thing productive on Sunday – I made more of the chicken. So, in addition to making the chili, I got to work on the chicken salad as well. Just as I was finishing a couple of our regulars came in and Alberto gave them a taste. They said they’d be back at lunchtime for it (lunchtime here is around 3 pm). They did come back and bought almost all of it. I had just enough for one last sandwich.
It was only wishful thinking on my part that I wouldn’t have to make more of the salad. Alberto sold the last bit to another regular minutes later. This wouldn’t have been too bad if it weren’t for the fact that the chili was now getting thicker and the lowest setting on my gas stove was STILL too high – it was causing the chili to almost boil. Oh, did I mention that this was 6 liters (just a little over 1.5 gallons) of chili? In order to keep the chili from scorching I had to stir, stir, stir and turn the flame on and off. So, I was doing this and prepping the chicken salad. I had just finished when the Saturday customer walked in for his chicken salad sandwich. *WHEW*
Here’s the recipe, for those who are interested. By the way, if you prefer a more chunky salad, by all means shred the chicken, carrots and queso blanco.
Chicken Salad with Queso Blanco
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3 cups queso blanco*, cubed (about 400 grams)
1 large carrot, peeled, cubed
1/4 to 1/3 cup diced red onion
2 tablespoons Deli mustard
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled**
Lightly coat chicken breast with olive oil, sprinkle on seasonings and sauté over medium heat for five minutes each side or until done. Remove from heat and allow to rest for five minutes. (If you prefer cold chicken salad, prepare the chicken an hour ahead and allow to chill in refrigerator.) Cut chicken into cubes. In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard and spices. Add the chicken, carrots and onions and mix until well-coated.
Serve atop your favorite lettuce, along with some tomato wedges or as a sandwich on your favorite bread (toasted or not) with lettuce and a good amount of thinly sliced tomato.
*You should be able to find queso blanco in the international cheese section at good supermarkets or latin food stores. It is a mild, unaged cheese. You can substitute queso fresco.
**I think this would also be lovely with tarragon in lieu of the basil. Sad to say I haven’t encountered that herb here yet.