This is not the most Ungirdled recipe, as it involves a number of steps, but it’s easy and a real winner. My friend introduced it to me a few years ago when she brought it to a party I was hosting and just about stole my thunder with it. I forgave her, as she turned me onto one of my all-time favorite recipes.
It’ll make YOU a star at your next summer picnic or luncheon. It’s from Ina Garten, better known as Food Network’s “Barefoot Contessa.” Plan plenty of time in advance of your event to make it. You can even make it the day before. It almost tastes better the next day. It makes, as my mother says “a gracious plenty,” which is a good thing, because people will be shoving each other to get to the bowl. Ina says it serves 12. To me, it could serve more. This is wonderful served on it’s own in a buffet, over salad greens as a main dish, or on toasted wheat bread for an amazing sandwich. I’ve added my own notes from my experiences making it. The photo above is courtesy of a beautiful recipe blog called Aggie’s Kitchen which I encourage you to visit (click here). If I could cook as well as Aggie, I’d weigh all of 500 lbs! Thanks, Aggie!
4 split chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on (8 of the breast pieces you typically found in the meat case)
Good olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound asparagus, ends removed, and cut in thirds diagonally
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded
2 scallions (white and green parts), sliced diagonally
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted
For the dressing:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup good apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt (I don’t usually add this much, as the soy sauce is pretty salty to me, so you may want to go easy and adjust to your tastes.)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub with the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred the chicken in large bite-sized pieces. (In a pinch for time, I have used frozen chicken breast halves cooked with little olive oil and minced garlic in a covered skillet set on medium low. Saves time and effort.)
Blanch the asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain. Cut the peppers in strips about the size of the asparagus pieces. Combine the cut chicken, asparagus, and peppers in a large bowl.
Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Add the scallions and sesame seeds and season to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Make sure you have band-aids on hand, 'cause it's likely to get ugly after this hits the buffet table.