• Chile Pulled-Chicken Salad With Bitter Greens, Peanuts & Charred Onion
    Sweet chile chicken salad with radishes, peanuts and herbs. Photo by Skye Parrot

Chile Pulled-Chicken Salad With Bitter Greens, Peanuts & Charred Onion

The beauty of this dressing, is that it begins by making a sweet and smoky chile sauce, some of which will be emulsified with oil to make your dressing, and some of which will be tossed with pulled chicken as a marinade. It’s a trick I learned on a recent trip cooking in Mexico, and this chile/spice paste has become a staple in my fridge.

Serves 4

  • 1 spring onion, quartered, root end intact
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 dried chiles (pasilla negro, New Mexican, or guajillo)
  • ¾ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ½ chicken, pulled (approximately 14 oz)
  • 12 oz arugula-and-chicory mix
  • 3 breakfast radishes, sliced lengthwise paper-thin on mandoline
  • 1 Avocado
  • ¼ cup dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1 Thai bird chile, deseeded and minced (optional)
  • Cilantro (optional)
  • Nasturtium petals (optional)

In a hot, dry skillet, toast onion, garlic clove with the skin, star anise, and dried chiles, removing the chiles and anise when they are fragrant but not burned. Allow the onion and garlic to blacken.

Add ¾ cup of water and vinegar to a small saucepan with peeled garlic, brown sugar, salt, star anise, and bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Add chiles, reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Transfer the chile and vinegar mixture to a blender, and puree until smooth. Pour the puree into a jar, and add ⅓ cup of it back to the blender with lime juice. With the blender running, add the oil in a steady stream, until emulsified and creamy.

Dress the chicken with the oil-less chile mixture to your taste, about ⅓ to 1/2 cup for a half chicken will suffice (save the extra for use in soups, dips, or as a marinade for meat). Stir to evenly coat, adding minced Thai chile if you want extra heat.

In a hot, dry skillet, char sliced onion on both sides, 3 minutes each side. They should be nice and blackened.

Toss greens with half the prepared dressing, season with a pinch of flaky sea salt, and toss to coat (use your hands to be gentler on the greens). Tuck dressed chicken in and around the greens, as opposed to piling on top. Add charred onion, avocado, and peanuts, then garnish with nasturtium and cilantro. Serve extra dressing on the side.