Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Potluck That Wasn't

Last night was the opening activity of Newton's school year--the back-to-school ice cream social. Last year's similar event was a potluck dinner, and with a starting time of six, it didn't occur to me that this year's wouldn't be. Silly me. So we left our salad in the car, had dessert first (blecchy little single-serving ice cream cups, you know the kind I'm talking about), and then ate what we could of the salad (I was making for a potluck, not for my little family, several members of which are dubious about salads anyway!).

I made a salad I've been craving lately: BBQ Chicken Chop. I first had it at California Pizza Kitchen several years ago, and was so delighted that I wrote down all the ingredients on the paper tape that had secured my napkin around my flatware. This time I made it with homemade ranch dressing. No, for once I wasn't trying to be an overachiever. I had come across the recipe while looking for one for dip to go with crudités. Then I discovered that the bottle of ranch dressing in my fridge was about 3 years past date and suspiciously beige. And then I realized that I had all the ingredients for the recipe. Since I'm not a frequent ranch dressing consumer, I'll probably end up making it for those occasions where nothing else will do.

BBQ Chicken Chop Salad

chopped lettuce (I used romaine and green leaf, about 1 1/2 heads--you need something crisp and sturdy)
5 oz grated Monterey Jack cheese
3 small scallions, minced (I used a bit more than this and came to regret it)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 C frozen petite corn kernels
1 C small-diced jicama
1 C diced tomato (I used red and orange--very pretty with the yellow corn and black beans)
ranch dressing (bottled or homemade)
broken tortilla chips
barbecued chicken, shredded in sauce (I use Lloyd's, that comes in a tub)

Toss everything but the chicken together, then top with the chicken. (If you're taking it to a potluck, take the cheese, chips, ranch and chicken separately and assemble the salad after you get there.)

To make the ranch dressing, I started with a recipe in The New Best Recipe, from the Cook's Illustrated people. I doubled it, which made a bit more than I needed for the above amount (but I think a single recipe wouldn't have been enough). I also made it in the Cuisinart instead of mincing everything by hand, and after it was put together I added more sour cream, about doubling what they originally called for. It's plenty allium-y (especially if serving with the scallion-y salad above!), so err on the side of less with the garlic, scallion and shallot. Here's how I made it:
Ranch Dressing

1 small-medium clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
2 small-medium scallions, white and green parts, chopped
1 medium shallot, chopped (a couple of tablespoons)
1 T minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 T minced fresh cilantro
2 T chopped red bell pepper
1 t freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 t salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 C buttermilk
1/2 C mayonnaise
1/2 C sour cream

Process in food processor in order given, scraping down sides of work bowl repeatedly to eliminate large chunks. Refrigerate and use within a few days.

1 comment:

Swizzies said...


I LOVE CPK chop salads. I don't do the bbq chicken one, but I make their original chopped salad all the time. Chopped lettuce, tomatoes (tons), also grated cheese (I can't get jack, so I use mozarella), little strips of salami, chopped basil (a lot), and chickpeas. With vinaigrette. YUM. Damn, now I'm craving it.

Also, bottled ranch dressing is a travesty. I'm so glad you did homemade. ;-)