This salad is solely sponsored by the major buffalo chicken craving I’ve been having over the past two weeks. Perhaps my body is craving warmth in the drippy days that are the end of February and early March here. Perhaps it’s been too long since I’ve had a perfect set of buffalo wings. Whatever though – I don’t always need to analyze things, do I? (Hi. Psych major here.)
So anyway, this was our first of two buffalo chicken meals in two days. And it’s deceptively healthy. While buffalo chicken is traditionally and deliciously fried, this chicken is panko-crusted and baked. From start to finish, you’ll need about 30 minutes to prep this meal but it’s so so worth it.
You can make the creamy avocado ranch dressing while the chicken bakes and then just dip the chicken in some warmed wing sauce when it’s done, then serve away. The dressing is a spin on my absolute favorite low-fat buttermilk ranch dressing since I almost always have it in the fridge but I suppose in a pinch, you could use bottled ranch instead. (Seriously, you need to try the homemade version!) I realize that bleu cheese dressing is the typical accompaniment to buffalo chicken but this dressing will give you the same cooling effect you need with any buffalo dish only with a little less guilt. Plus? It’s avocado ranch. Need I say more?
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp Dijon or whole-grain mustard
- 1 tsp minced fresh thyme or Â¼ tsp. dried
- Cooking spray
- 1 lb chicken tenderloins (or breasts sliced into 3/4-inch strips)
- 1/2 cup wing sauce (we like Frank's original sauce)
- 1 1/2 tbsp salted butter
- 1/2 of an avocado, scooped from the skin and roughly diced
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- up to 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 small bunch of chives or 1 scallions, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- a few cranks of freshly ground black pepper
- 4 to 5 cups chopped romaine or spring mix
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- buffalo chicken
- creamy avocado ranch dressing
- crumbled bacon, crumbled bleu cheese, extra chives/scallions (all optional)
- To make the chicken: Preheat the oven to 475° F. In a large skillet, toss the panko with the oil. Toast over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer the toasted crumbs to a shallow dish or pie plate.
- In a second shallow dish, whisk together the flour, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne pepper. In a bowl, whisk together the egg whites, water, mustard and thyme.
- Spray a wire rack with cooking spray (rub the wires to make sure they are well-coated - this will prevent the breading from sticking) and place over a rimmed baking sheet. Working in batches, dredge a few pieces of the chicken in the flour, then the egg whites, and finally the breadcrumbs to coat, shaking off the excess between each step. Lay the coated pieces on the prepared wire rack and repeat with the remaining chicken.
- Spray the tops of the chicken pieces lightly with the cooking spray. Bake until the chicken is cooked through and the breading is lightly golden brown, 10-12 minutes. While the chicken cooks, melt the butter in the wing sauce in a large bowl in the microwave; whisk the butter into the sauce to combine.
- To make the dressing: While the chicken bakes, place all of the ingredients with 1/4 cup of buttermilk in a blender and blend for 10 seconds. Check consistency and blend in additional buttermilk if desired. Scrape down the sides of the blender and blend until the avocado is completely pureed.
- When the chicken is finished baking, gently roll each piece in the wing sauce to completely coat.
- Lay the buffalo chicken out over the prepared salads and spoon the dressing over the top. Serve with the chicken is still warm.