More salad, and corny thoughts

May 1, 2015

Salad, redux.

Salad, redux.

I was pleased enough with my recent fruit salad that I thought I’d expand on the salad experience last night, with less-than-stellar results.

First, I learned that the fruit salad with the honey-lemon salad dressing and the fresh mozz doesn’t keep well. The mozzarella taste kind of expands to take over the strawberries, although the grapes were still OK.

The shrimp and avocado salad was good. I’d boiled shrimp and potatoes the night before, and we had a handful left; enough for a small serving for one. So I took those and peeled and chopped them; diced up an avocado, and made a dressing by adding some mayo to my homemade cocktail sauce. Good salad; made enough for two. I ate my half, but Child A, who is getting pickier by the day, was Not Impressed.

I do, by the way, make a killer cocktail sauce. Ketchup, about a half-cup. Horseradish, about 2 tablespoons. Worcestershire, about two teaspoons. Hot sauce, a few shakes. Lemon juice, about a tablespoon. Salt and freshly ground black pepper. Taste and adjust as needed. Boom. Don’t go buying cocktail sauce. This is better.

And then I made my favorite chicken salad, and learned something about corn.

You may remember that my family and I love fresh corn, to a degree that’s all out of reason with rationality. And one of my favorite applications of it is to put it in a smoky chicken salad, made smoky by the use of bacon, and smoked paprika.

Well, I could go that one better; I had smoky barbecued chicken halves residing in my fridge, which negated the need for the bacon. I stripped the meat from all four halves, and pulsed it in the food processor until it was fairly finely shredded. That made about three cups of chicken (remember, these were fairly small birds).

Silks come right off with the husk when nuked for a couple of minutes.

Silks come right off with the husk when nuked for a couple of minutes.

And then I did something different with the corn. I’d picked up three-for-a-dollar ears of sweet corn at the grocery. Usually, I’ll husk corn, silk it, wrap it in plastic wrap and nuke it if I need whole kernels for a recipe. But I’d been told it was easier to just nuke it in the husk. So I did, two minutes per ear for three ears, so a total of six minutes in the microwave.

I let it sit in the microwave for 5 or 10 minutes while I was deboning and shredding the chicken; and lo and behold, when I husked it, almost all the silks came away with the husks! No picking, brushing, scrubbing. I was a happy camper.

Cut the kernels off the three ears of corn and added to the chicken tossed them together. Decided that would make way more chicken salad than I wanted, took two cups of the mixture out and put into a bag that went into the freezer, leaving me about a cup and a half to which to add the dressing. Which was: a big tablespoon of mayo, two big tablespoons of non-fat Greek yogurt, about 1/4 teaspoon pimenton de la vera (if you were using regular smoked paprika, you’d probably want a full teaspoon, but pimenton de la vera is some potent stuff), and a splash of lime juice. I just spooned everything in on top of the chicken and corn, and stirred it all up.

It was as good as I remembered, which is to say, pretty damned good. The smoked chicken gave it a different dimension, and I liked it better with the more finely shredded chicken, which this chicken needed to be because its repose in the fridge had dried it out a bit.

The remaining chicken and corn that’s in the freezer could go a number of routes. I think I could add some eggs, milk and masa, and make some fine chicken croquettes (ought to be killer with some barbecue sauce). It would go nicely in an alfredo sauce, maybe, and ought to add an exceptional dimension to risotto. It’ll make an appearance in some form in the next week or two.

Speaking of corn….I got the announcement this week for a professional development conference I always attend, and was pleased to find they’ve moved the dates back to August after having had it in June last year. This is related to corn because the conference is held in the mountains of North Georgia, and just down the road from the resort where I always stay is a most exceptional produce stand. A colleague and I had gone to the market on the way back to Arkansas one year because she wanted to pick up a half-bushel of Georgia peaches, which are the size of an infant’s head and impossibly sweet. While she was peach-shopping, I wandered about and found….Silver Queen corn!

Silver Queen corn was the ONLY corn that was ever planted in our garden when I was a kid. It’s a white sweet corn, and it is absolutely marvelous. It’s the best corn in the world. And you can’t find it in this part of the world any more. But by George, they grow it in North Georgia.

I only bought a dozen ears that trip, because I had not yet gotten back into the practice of freezing veggies for the winter. Then the next year, we went in June, and there were peaches, but no corn yet. This year, I’m bringing back a bushel and freezing every bit of it — well, except for my biggest skillet full, which I plan to eat all by myself.

I might — might! — share a little of it with you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em.

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