Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mexican Cobb Chicken Salad

Buried under the bright green tomatillo salsa, crema and chopped avocadoes is a layer of sliced, cooked chicken and lettuce.  Also lined up in this Mexican-inspired Cobb salad are crumbled bacon, chopped tomatoes and two kinds of cheese, cheddar and queso fresco. 

Actually, we didn't have either queso fresco or its cousin farmer's cheese when we made this so we sprinkled in a mild feta.  A few blue corn tortilla chips did double duty as garnish and scoopers. 

Tomatillo salsa lends a bright lime flavor and crema adds a mellow note.  You can also pass some plain vinaigrette around for those who like a more dressed salad. 

Here's how to make the tomatillo salsa and crema to create your own masterpiece dinner salad.  You can use any fresh salsa instead if you are in a hurry but you will see from the various cooking methods provided that you can prepare this salsa alongside whatever you are cooking tonight whether stove top, grilled or in the oven and enjoy it the rest of the week.  Leftover Tomatillo Salsa can be used as base for a quick guacamole (add chopped avocado) or instead of your favorite hot sauce on burgers, tacos or grilled chicken.  Stir a few spoonfuls of Tomatillo Salsa into plain chicken soup to give it a serious lift.  

Tomatillo Salsa
Yields about 1 cup

Ingredients

1 pound tomatillos (about 6)
1-2 jalapeños  (two will make the sauce very spicy, OK to use 1/2 of one)
juice of one lime
1 cup fresh, chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
optional: 1-2 tablespoons olive oil or water 
Method
  1. Peel tomatillos and rinse them and the jalapeños in water.  
  2. Cook tomatillos and jalapeños by any one of these methods: cover with water in a medium pot, bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes OR lightly oil tomatillos and jalapeños with vegetable oil and grill alongside anything else on the grill, turning as they char and remove when softened OR roast at 425˚F in a oiled roasting pan until softened.  
  3. Once cooked, cool vegetables.  
  4. Remove seeds from jalapeños.  
  5. Place tomatillos and jalapeños in a food processor or blender with remaining ingredients.  Pulse until well blended to a puree.  
  6. If mixture is very thick add a little water or olive oil.  Taste for seasoning, add more salt if needed. 
Crema
If you cannot find crema in your grocery store, combine some sour cream or plain Greek yogurt with a little cream to create a pouring consistency. 

What Are Tomatillos, Anyway?

Tomatillos are in the nightshade family (as is the tomato).  They have a citrus flavor, pretty tart with a nice crunch.  Tomatillos are showing up in grocery stores more frequently.  You will find them near avocados and tomatoes or with international produce. They look like small green tomatoes with grey-green papery husks.  We use them raw, chopped up in a salsa where the lime juice breaks them down or we use them cooked as in the recipe above.  FYI: Tomatillos are the key ingredient in most enchilada sauces.