Friends, we are here today to up your weekday chicken game. Do not take this claim lightly- I’m about to introduce you to an obsession that has become the sweetheart of my entire family. I’ll be honest, I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago and I got distracted because #life and left it unfinished. It turns out a lot happens in a week or two. Like you finish your insane fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants whole30 idea SUCCESSFULLY and decide, hey I can continue this thang because you’re a grown-up and you can eat healthy if you want, dammit. Save for the much anticipated delayed wedding anniversary date night where you end up getting tiramisu bigger than Rome only to realize that sugar is actually really, really sweet. Especially when you haven’t had it for 30+ days. Lesson learned.
But no matter, you won’t let that ruin your night so you walk it off and march on. Plans be waitin’ and the show must go on…literally. So then, what did the rest of my night entail? Guys, we went to see HAMILTON. THE HAMILTON that’s taking up the world by storm. Ever since the soundtrack came out, it’s been playing in my car, non-stop but seeing it live was pretty magical. Now, my days, and evenings are spent singing (off key) songs from the musical, thinking about food and/or taking pictures of food. Always with the taking pictures of food. And somewhere in there, I’ve been managing to keep the kids alive. Major win! With Halloween around the corner, it is most certainly all Hamilton, all the time in this house. And if we can get our kids to love history, I’m gonna call that a major parenting and nerd win.
Remember when I first told you I was doing the whole30? I finished the 30 days and I feel amazing. So much so that I realized I don’t actually NEED that much sugar in my life and I’m feeling ambitious enough to keep up this rekindled love for simple, fresh foods. One of the best parts for food blogger me was reinventing old classics to make them whole30 compliant. I’ve had a lot of fun turning italian chicken sausage into a breakfast staple by subbing in arrowroot flour for the breadcrumbs and omitting the parmesan completely. The result? dah-lish-ous! In the process, I’ve also come up with some new recipes I’m extremely happy with. Like my buffalo chicken cobb salad with a spicy, smoky dressing.
Until very recently, I was not a very big buffalo sauce fan. In fact, I preferred honey sriracha wings to buffalo wings. But lately, I’m obsessed with all things buffalo. It’s spicy without being overpowering; has a tang to it that can make you lips pucker in a gotta-go-back-for-more sorta’ way; and it has the ability to bring chicken’s A game to the table.
When I tell you we’re all obsessed with this salad, I mean O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D. As in, the first time I made it, I made what I thought was enough to have leftovers for lunch the next day. I tripled this recipe and brought all of it with me to a family dinner as a ‘just in case we need more’ contingency plan which I didn’t fully expect to happen, because hello control freak me. When I saw the last of the salad being polished off, I wanted to yell ‘noooooooooooooooo’ in slo-mo and grab the remaining shreds of salad in the bowl, tuck the bowl under my arm and sprint like a long distance runner. I resisted that urge and I think the world is a better place for it. People who don’t like salad went back for seconds. The power of this salad tho…
There’s just something about grilled chicken that’s spicy and tangy, tossed with a plethora of veggies and hardboiled eggs, topped with a creamy dressing loaded with flavor and laced with buffalo sauce. It brings heat, zest, bold flavor, and lots of addictability. Also, please don’t mistake this for a side salad. This is a MEAL. As in no more pushing lettuce around on a plate while waiting or the main course to arrive. This buffalo chicken salad is no small time salad. It will call the shots at your party. And guys, full disclosure, you may have a riot on your hands when you get to the last serving and people are at the table waiting to pounce on it. Imagine doing this as your post trick-or-treating meal. Then you can gorge yourself on candy and not feel bad because you ate your veggies. No, I didn’t just say that right after I swore off sugar. You know nothing of this.
If you’re doing this as a paleo/whole30 recipe, be sure to use a complaint mayo. I make my own these days (a post for another day) and I’m pretty sure I never want to get the jarred stuff again. Let me tell you, life changing yummy power. I’ve seen recipes for cobb salad dressing that add buttermilk and sour cream but I’m not the person who can go to the store for one ingredient that’s gonna stay in my fridge until the next time I clean it out. Plus it’s whole30 complaint which means it can’t have any dairy. I made it with classic ranch dressing type ingredients and perked up the flavors with the addition of hot sauce and fresh lemon juice. And wow does that hot sauce wake this dressing up. It’s like a double espresso shot of salad dressings.
The chicken, by itself, is so simple and so outrageously good. It’s two-ingredient perfection. Chicken breasts marinated in hot sauce; that’s it. I used Frank’s original hot sauce but the extra-hot sauce has a special place in my heart. Marinating the chicken is optional- if you’re running short on time, you can just toss the cooked and diced chicken in the sauce afterward but if you marinate, you’ll end up with a deeper flavor and add another layer of complexity. If you do marinate and grill, do it in a well ventilated room because the chili peppers in the sauce will burn and do a number on your lungs. I still maintain, albeit with bruised lungs, the pain was worth the taste of the chicken.
My dear friends, please please please don’t make the unforgivable mistake for overcooking your hardboiled eggs to the point where they are rubbery and the yolks have a gray ring around them. Allow the eggs to cook via steam so the yolks and whites set without taking on the toughness that I know too well. Then, there is the issue with losing half the whites with the shell. I don’t know about you, but my hardboiled eggs used to look like they were mauled while being peeled. I recently learned that all of this is avoidable with a few amendments to my previous method.
- bring a pot of water to a rolling boil on high heat. Using a spoon with a long handle, gently lower eggs, one egg at a time into the boiling water.
- once the eggs are in the boiling water, continue boiling for exactly one minute. After a minute, remove the pot from heat, cover and let stand for 9-10 minutes. The heat will gently cook the whites and yolks, while keeping the eggs moist.
- after 10 minutes, drain hot water and replace with cold water to stop the eggs from cooking.
- Gently crack the shell and peel away the shell. I crack the flatter end of the egg where there is an air pocket so it relieves some of the suction and stops the whites from peeling with the shell.
I think this salad has replaced the autumn harvest salad and the tandoori chicken caesar salad as my favorite salad. If you liked the caesar salad, you’re going to LOVE this buffalo chicken cobb salad, even without the bacon. Friends, please do yourself a favor and make. this. salad. Eat now, thank me later. kthanksbye!
- 1 medium head romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1½ cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 seedless cucumber, chopped
- 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 large or 2 medium avocados, pitted and sliced
- 4 eggs, hardboiled, peeled, and quartered
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce (less for milder chicken)
FOR THE DRESSING:
- ½ tbsp dried chopped onion
- 2 tbsp Frank's Red Hot Sauce
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise (use whole30/paleo compliant if needed)
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp dill weed
- 1 tbsp dijon or stone ground mustard
- ½ tsp dried parsley
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp milk or hot water
- ½ tsp salt
- MARINATE THE CHICKEN: coat the chicken with ½ of the hot sauce, cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours. Set aside.
- MAKE THE DRESSING: combine mayonnaise with all the ingredients except for oil and water/milk. Stir with a whisk until well blended. Drizzle in olive oil while whisking the mayonnaise mixture until fully combined. Add the milk/water, 1 tbsp at a time, until it reaches desired consistency. Add more liquid for thinner dressing and less for thicker dressing. Adjust salt and hot sauce accordingly. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.
- GRILL THE CHICKEN: Coat a large pan with oil and cook chicken over medium heat for 5-8 minutes on each side, until the chicken is completely cooked and juices run clear. Cover with aluminum foil and set aside.
- ASSEMBLE THE SALAD: Add lettuce in the bottom of a large bowl along with onions, cucumbers and tomatoes. Arrange egg quarters and avocados on top of the lettuce. Dice the chicken and toss with the remaining hot sauce. Add to salad. Top with dressing and serve immediately.