Cajun Chicken & Nectarine Salad

Cajun-Chicken-Nectarine-Salad-3Honestly… Three rays of sunlight and the mere idea of temperatures rising above single-digits alone are enough for all of the die-hard Big City BBQers to come out of hiding and fire up the embers, worldwide doom-and-gloom, pandemic or ravenous neighbors without the luxuries of a rooftop garden or balcony be damned. Most of the time, closing the windows after giving the whole situation the sigh it deserves does the trick.

Sometimes though, bigger cannons are required to blast the looming frustration to tiny bits before it can truly settle in and in that regard, I can actually relate with the BBQers’ sentiment – delicious morsels coming right off the coals do have the wonderful ability to drive away the shadows in my experience. So today, I’ll be taking one of my favorites frequently sizzling away on my in-laws’ coals during the summer months out of the fire and right into the frying pan for you guys.
These amounts will net you two main-dish sized servings of edible woe-be-gone with a sprinkle of sunshine on top~

Cajun-Chicken-Nectarine-Salad-2

The Chicken
300g Chicken Thigh, skinned and deboned – actually, if you do have a BBQ at your disposal, keep the skin on for that extra-crispy coat of fire protection around your chicken
2-3 Tbsp Buttermilk – if you have some time to prep in advance, submerge the chicken in buttermilk for 2-3 hours for the juciest results
2 Tbsp Almond Flour
3 Tbsp Cajun Spice – you can find my personal blend in my Ostrich, Cape Gooseberry Chutney and Cajun-Spiced Sweet Potato Fries Recipe over here. If you have a storebought favorite at hand, check the label, and if they’re missing, add a pinch of smoked paprika or chipotle chilies and a pinch of cinnamon or allspice. Those seemingly small tweaks make all the difference, believe me~!
1 Tsp Fine Salt
1 White Nectarine, pitted and sliced into 8 wedges
1 Yellow Nectarine, pitted and sliced into 8 wedges
2 Tbsp Ghee

1) Take your chicken out of the fridge about 30 mins before pan-time and slice it into 2 or 4 evenly sized portions.
2) Grab a wide dish or platter and blend together the almond flour, spice mix and salt with a fork.
3) Fire up your pan or griddle on medium-high heat.
4) If you didn’t marinade the chicken in buttermilk, rub it with the listed tablespoonfuls until each piece is nicely glossed over. If you did give the chicken some milky R&R, simply shake off any excess buttermilk.
5) Turn each piece over in the spicy flour mix until it’s evenly coated and lightly pat it down for good measure.
6) Pop the ghee into the pan and once it’s dissolved, add the chicken and close the lid for 4 mins. Perfect time to turn on your salad ingredients, knife in hand!
7) Have a peek beneath a piece and see if the crust has taken on the tell-tale inviting golden hue of yumness. If it did, turn the chicken over. If it’s not there yet, close the lid again and check again in two more minutes.
8) Once the bird is sizzling away on the second side, keep the lid off and repeat the color-check until you’re completely satisfied. My pan usually takes 5-6 mins on side #1 and 4-5 mins on side #2 on “naked” pieces – if I kept the skin on, it’s 3-4 mins more on the skin-side (which goes in first, in case you were looking at the pieces in front of you and wondering…).
9) Take the pieces out of the pan and park them on a paper towel to soak up any excess fat while you finish up any chopping or whizzing tasks you haven’t gotten to yet.
10) Once the chicken is out, give the nectarine wedges a swirl through the pan and pick up any and all bits, pieces, dots and juices still sticking to the pan while doing so.

Cajun-Chicken-Nectarine-Salad-1

The Salad

100-150g Mixed Lettuce Leaves
1 Celery Stalk, finely diced
4 Tbsp Cashew Nuts, toasted and salted
Alt: 4 Tbsp Peanuts, toasted and salted
2 Tbsp Chives, finely chopped
½ Salad Cucumber, peeled and deseeded, diced
10 Radishes, very finely sliced
Opt: Jalapeño or Habanero, very finely chopped – or sliced into ringlets large enough for the faint-hearted to spot and fish out
Opt: Avocado Dice on top

Well. Once you’re done with the knifework, scatter everything onto two plates.

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The Dressing
2 Shallots
Alt: 1 Red Onion
1 Lemon, Juice and Zest
1 Tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar
1 Yellow Nectarine, pitted and roughly chopped
1 Tbsp Honey
1 Tbsp Mustard
1 Tsp Cajun Spice
Celery Salt & Pepper to taste

Another one-liner today, uncharacteristic though it may be… pop everything into a food processor or stick-blender friendly container and have at it.
Oh, there’s actually a second line! If you’re short on time on the day of the gig, this dressing does a delicious little intensifying-trick when it’s stored in a tightly sealed jar over night, in a fridge where nobody’s watching~

Assembling the Dish
1) Grab your wildly dotted salad plates and drizzle the piles with the dressing.
2) Nestle the crispy chicken pieces on top, distribute the nectarine wedges and…

…Enjoy~!

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