So in our CSA basket this week was 2 large bunches of kale. This was the first use for the kale from that basket. I am going to post this recipe in steps, because there were a few steps to it. But I promise you, they are very easy to do. We are going to start with how to prep the kale. Here's how you do it and be sure to scroll down to get a complete list of the ingredients.
1. In a large bowl, add 2 tbsp of the fresh squeezed orange juice, 1 tbsp of the canola oil, 1 tbsp agave, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
2. Whisk to combine.
3. Add to the bowl, 3 cups kale that has been cut into strips, 1 cup brussels sprouts that have been thinly sliced, and 1/2 red onion that has been sliced.
4. Toss to coat and set aside. You want to let that dressing start to break down the kale a little. I let it sit for about 30 minutes and moved forward with the rest of the meal.
5. Time to make the candied pecans, unless you buy them but I chose to make my own. In a skillet (which I later used to cook the bacon and the chicken) melt 1 tbsp of butter and add 1 tbsp of the brown sugar. Add 1/2 cup of the chopped pecans and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove the pecans and put in a bowl and just set aside. They will harden as they sit.
6. Take a moist paper towel and wipe out the skillet. Add 4 slices of bacon and cook until crisp. Remove to a paper-toweled lined plate to drain and set aside. Pour off the bacon drippings into a small bowl or cup (to be used later on) and once again, wipe out the skillet. If a little of the bacon drippings are left behind, that won't be such a bad thing :-)
7. Now let's work on the chicken. Start with 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts. You are going to need to make a basic dredging station. In the first dish add 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. In the second dish, crack open 1 egg, add 1 tbsp or so of water, and mix to combine. The third station will have your pecan crust. To make that, add 1/2 cup of panko, the remaining 1/2 cup pecans, and the remaining 1 tbsp brown sugar to a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs and dump that into the third dish.
8. In the same skillet you have been using, add the remaining 3 tbsp or so of canola oil and set the skillet over medium heat. You also want to preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
9. Take one of the chicken breasts and dip it in the flour. Coat both sides and shake off the excess. Add it to the egg, coat both sides, and place it in the pecan mix. I really pat the chicken breast in this mix so you get a thick crust. Repeat with the other chicken breast.
10. Add to the skillet and cook on the first side for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Do not burn it. Burnt nuts taste horrible.
11. Turn the chicken over and cook another 2-3 minutes on the other side. Place the chicken on a rack-lined baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.
12. While the chicken is baking, you can prepare the remaining ingredients for salad. To the bowl with the kale, brussels, and onions you are going to add 1/2 cup mandarin oranges, 2 celery stalks that are thinly sliced, and the candied pecans. Crumble in the cooked bacon and toss well to combine. Set aside.
13. Your final prep is going to be to make a delicious maple-bacon dressing to drizzle over the top of the chicken. It's what takes this salad from delicious to totally out of bounds. Add 3 tbsp of the reserved bacon grease (can supplement with canola oil if you don't have enough), the remaining 2 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice, 1 tbsp maple syrup, and 1 tsp whole grain mustard. Whisk to combine, or better yet, make this in a jar with a lid that way you can just give it a good shake and it's mixed and ready to go.
14. To assemble, scoop up a generous portion of the salad and place on a plate. Slice one of the chicken breasts and set it on top (as seen in the picture above). Drizzle about 1-2 tsp of the maple-bacon dressing over the chicken; don't forget the salad itself is tossed in that orange dressing from earlier. As an optional addition, I added a few crumbles of gorgonzola to my husband's plate. I don't like blue cheese so I didn't have any.
So that's the step by step. Here is an ingredient list. Just FYI, you can absolutely make the candied pecans ahead of time. You can also cook the bacon, make the orange dressing, and prep your vegetables ahead if you desire. If you cook your bacon ahead of time, and save the drippings, just know they will harden up as they sit. Just microwave for about 20 seconds or so to warm up before making the maple-bacon dressing.
Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad:
4 tbsp organic fresh squeezed orange juice, divided
4 tbsp canola oil, divided
1 tbsp organic agave
3 cups kale, cut into strips
1 cup organic brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
1/2 medium organic red onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp organic unsalted butter
2 tbsp organic brown sugar, divided
1 cup chopped pecans, divided
4 slices organic, uncured bacon
2 organic, free-range boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup organic all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 large organic egg
1 tbsp water
1/2 cup organic panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup mandarin oranges
2 organic celery stalks, thinly sliced
3 tbsp bacon drippings
1 tbsp organic maple syrup
1 tsp whole grain mustard