You may not read this. I mean, how ridiculous is it to review a salad? Aren’t they all the same? Let me just say that you can take it from someone who doesn’t really like lettuce that all salads are not the same. Or you can take it from two teen boys who ate so much of this chicken salad with haricots verts last night that there was none left when their sisters came home from their respective activities. I should probably clarify that those two teen boys did not eat all of the chicken salad because they were ridiculously hungry and their wicked step-monster gave them only paltry lettuce. They ate the chicken salad because it was absolutely delicious.
Julia Turshen's introduction to the recipe for chicken salad with haricots verts in May’s Bon Appétit gets it spot on: “Does the world need another chicken salad? Yep.” This salad has roasted chicken, small red potatoes, and blanched green beans over a mix of butter lettuce and endive. The dressing is a mustard vinaigrette that I am pretty sure my boys were ready to drink (translation: make extra dressing just in case). The radishes were a nice, peppery addition. Radish is something that I don’t think to add to salad, but in this case, I would suggest adding a little extra. This recipe, along with Monday night’s croque-monsieur and carrot salad, are courtesy of Jody Williams, the chef behind Buvette in New York and Paris. Her new cookbook, Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food, came out in April and I can safely say that it will soon be added to my growing cookbook collection. I can also safely say that the next time I am in New York, Buvette will be on my shortlist of places to go.
I did make one change to the recipe for simplicity’s sake. I did not have time (or patience) to roast an entire chicken or season it and let it sit on the counter for an hour or pick it once baked. I substituted three fairly large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 ½ - 2 pounds) for the whole chicken. I patted it dry, then gave it a nice splash of olive oil before covering it, and I mean covering it, with herbs. I did not have herbes de Provence on hand, so used bouquet garni in its place and some lavender salt in place of a bit of kosher salt. I combined these with the fennel seeds (1:1:1 ratio) in my pepper grinder. Sidenote: if you don’t have this pepper grinder, go right after you finish reading this amazing review and get one. It is the best tool in my kitchen and the best $20 you are going to spend this week.
Ok, where were we? Right. Put all of the spices in your grinder and grind away. I just eyeballed the seasoning in approximately even ratios but didn’t actually measure. Let’s just say your chicken should have a nice herby crust on it.
Because I had to leave as soon as I had seasoned the chicken (horrible timing on my part), I covered the chicken and refrigerated it until I came home (four house later), then baked it for 25 minutes at 375°. This chicken was excellent. It was well seasoned, not a bit dry, and went wonderfully with the salad.
I can’t speak highly enough of both of the meals we’ve prepared so far from this month’s Bon Appétit. I’ve never had a subscription to this magazine before, but am very glad that I do now. I particularly like that these recipes include suggestions for steps that can be prepared ahead. This makes weeknight cooking so much more manageable. Thank you, Bon Appétit, for the inspiration to get in the kitchen and try something new. And merci, Jody Williams, for providing such outstanding recipes.