Sweet Chili Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Ranch Dressing
Buttermilk ranch dressing with chunks of creamy blue cheese and shallow-fried chicken tenders smothered in melted butter and sweet Thai chili sauce top this deliciously satisfying main dish salad. You might not think to use Thai chili sauce outside of Asian cuisine, but the light coating on the chicken is the perfect complement for the tangy dressing and crisp salad ingredients.
- 12 chicken tenderloins (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lbs)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1-1/4 cups dry breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup sweet Thai chili sauce
- 12 ounces mixed greens (romaine, red leaf lettuce, baby spinach, etc.)
- 2 medium ripe or 12 Campari tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 1/2 English cucumber, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into this strips
For the Blue Cheese Ranch Dressing:
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 large clove garlic, very finely chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese (or more to taste)
- Prepare the dressing by whisking the buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, oil and garlic together in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the blue cheese.
- Trim any small white tendons from the chicken tenderloins and set aside. In a shallow dish like a pie plate, whisk the egg and milk together until well blended. Combine the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and spread on a dinner plate or sheet of wax paper.
- Dip each piece of chicken first in the egg, then in the crumb mixture, pressing lightly to be sure the crumbs adhere well.
- Add about 1/8-inch of vegetable oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the tenderloins in a single layer and cook until the crumb coating is golden brown and their interior is no longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Note: You may want to work in two batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.
- Transfer the cooked tenderloins to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and wipe the excess oil from the pan.
- Return the pan to the stove over medium heat and add the butter and sweet Thai chili sauce. Once the butter has melted, combine well, then return the chicken to the pan.
- Carefully turn the tenderloins several times to coat them with chili sauce mixture. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
- To serve, divide the greens between 4 plates and arrange the cucumber, red bell pepper and tomatoes around the edges. Place 3 pieces of chicken in the center of each plate and spoon about 2 tablespoons of dressing over the salad. Pass the remaining dressing at the table.