Barbecued Chicken Tenders With Blue Cheese Salad
by Bret Jennings, Chef , Elaine’s on Franklin, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- Brine (optional)
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
- 1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 small head garlic, crushed
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 quart water
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1 teaspoon chili flake
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 quart ice
Combine all ingredients, except ice, in saucepot and bring to boil for 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Add ice and chill completely. Once the brine is cold, submerge the chicken tenders in the brine and chill for 12 hours.
- 12 Smart Chicken tenders
- 1 1/2 cups BBQ sauce, purchased or see recipe
- 1 small red onion, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds (try to leave rings whole)
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 ribs celery, sliced thinly
- 1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and diced
- 1 head iceberg lettuce
- Blue cheese dressing, purchased or see recipe
- Garlic croutons
- Blue cheese crumbles (optional for garnish)
Preheat grill to 400°F.
Drizzle the onion rounds with cider vinegar and olive oil and set aside to let marinate while preparing the chicken.
Remove chicken tenders from the brine (if using) or package, pat dry, and coat liberally with BBQ sauce.
Place the marinated onion rings and chicken tenders on the hot grill. Char the onions on each side until the edges turn dark (about 5 to 7 minutes per side), then remove from grill. Grill the chicken tenders for approximately 5 to 6 minutes per side, until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F. Remove from grill.
Cut four equal cross sections of lettuce (the sections will look like large round slices). Place each lettuce round on a plate and drizzle with blue cheese dressing. Lay three grilled chicken tenders over each salad. Top the chicken with celery, bell pepper, separated onion rings, and croutons. Crumble a little extra blue cheese on top.
Pairing: For a white, consider a riesling or pinot gris—something a little sweet to intensify the blue cheese and handle the heat of the BBQ sauce. A chilled, light red with a bit of sweetness would also be a good match.