Chicken Caesar Salad

  in Main Dishes, Recipes, Salads

This is one of those dishes you can enjoy year-round. In the summer, cook the chicken on the grill. In the winter, pan fry or bake or broil. We like to use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts, as most recipes call for, especially our local chicken thighs from Nature’s Acres in Manton, Michigan. Thighs are very flavorful in their own right and don’t need to be brined as this recipe calls for, but brining makes them even better.

Adapted a wee bit from Smittenkitchen | Serves 4

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup room temperature water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
A few fine gratings of lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups fresh or day-old bread, cubed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 teaspoon smooth dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese + more for serving
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 heads romaine lettuce (if your romaine is gigantic, you might only need one head), washed, dried, chopped

  1. Brine the chicken: whisk the salt and maple syrup with the water in a medium bowl. Submerge the chicken thighs in the liquid and refrigerate 30 minutes (longer is fine too, up to 24 hours.) (Note: if you’re short on time you can skip this step and simply salt and pepper the thighs generously before cooking.)
  2. Make the croutons: Heat oven to 400°F. Toss the bread cubes with the oil, garlic, zest, salt, and pepper. Spread on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly browned, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Pat the chicken dry and season with pepper. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Coat the pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and add the chicken thighs. Cook until the thighs are lightly browned, about 5 minutes or so. Turn and cook the other sides until browned, 5 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of water, cover, and continue cooking another 5-10 minutes until chicken is no longer pink inside. Remove from heat and let cool a bit before cutting into strips or cubes.
  4. Whisk all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup.
  5. To assemble, add lettuce and chicken to a big bowl. Drizzle over the dressing and toss to coat everything. Serve salad with croutons and extra Parmesan cheese.