There is something oddly intriguing about the name Pancake Chicken Salad. I was looking through the index of one of my cookbooks when I first read it, and I couldn’t help but wonder exactly what it entailed. Is it crepe-like pancakes stuffed with creamy chicken salad? Or maybe chicken salad fried into pancake shape? The stranger the ideas that came into my head, the more the recipe piqued my interest…and the name alone just wasn’t enough, I had to read the full recipe.
It turns out that this salad is basically battered and shallow fried chicken served over greens. Not quite as interesting as what I conjured up in my mind, but still every bit as delicious. The name comes from the pancake-like batter (similar to a batter you might use for a fish fry, except much more flavorful) that is spiced with garlic and Indian spices like coriander, ginger, and turmeric, which gives it the prettiest shade of pale yellow.
The cookbook I found this gem of a recipe in is none other than Margaret M. Johnson’s The Irish Pub Cookbook, the same cookbook that inspired my Guinness Beef Stew last year. This recipe is from a pub called The Meetings, located in the Vale of Avoca in County Wicklow. The pub takes its name from the junction where the Avonmore and Avonbeag Rivers meet. Of the food there, Margaret says “[It] is wholesome and hearty, but with a twenty-first century touch, thanks to chef Dermot Moore…”
I know this salad may sound strange, but it really works! And the raspberry-mustard vinaigrette is the perfect finishing touch.
Pancake Chicken Salad with Raspberry-Mustard Vinaigrette (Adapted from Margaret M. Johnson’s The Irish Pub Cookbook)
(Yield: 2 servings)
Raspberry-Mustard Vinaigrette (recipe below)
1 large egg
1/4 c milk (low-fat or fat-free is fine)
1 large clove garlic, grated
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp each ground turmeric, coriander, and ginger
2 (4-6 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into 3-4 strips
4-6 c field greens (or any lettuce you like)
2 TB dried cherries
1 TB white wine vinegar (or rice vinegar)
1 TB olive oil
1 TB raspberry jam
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400F and lightly brush canola oil on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the vinaigrette and set aside for now.
In a medium bowl, whisk together egg, milk, and garlic. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Gradually whisk dry ingredients into wet, being careful not to over-mix; let batter rest 5 minutes.
Put 1 1/2 to 2 inches of canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat; when oil is hot (it should be somewhere around 350-375F; for a way to see if the oil is the right temperature without a thermometer, see here), dredge chicken in batter and cook until lightly browned (about 1-2 minutes per side). Transfer chicken to prepared baking pan and bake until fully cooked (about 15 minutes). (Chicken is fully cooked when there is no pink inside.) Once fully cooked, transfer chicken to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.
To assemble the salads, divide the field greens between 2 plates, sprinkle on the dried cherries and dressing, and top with the chicken.