Saturday, December 14, 2013

blt chopped salad with perfect blue cheese dressing

I may have mentioned before, but BLTs are my favorite sandwiches. They are so simple in their perfection, there's no way you can mess them up. Unless of course, you don't use enough bacon. And you can never use too much bacon. They may not be the best sandwich for you, but it's not like I eat them everyday. But I would. I would. This is a play on a BLT sandwich, with the addition of chicken and the most amazing Blue Cheese Dressing!
Believe it or not, before a few years ago, I only ate Italian dressing. I was grossed out by the idea of creamy dressings, and I'm not a huge fan of balsamic vinegar. So, it was a big leap for me when I started chowing down on ranch. It was while I was in college- Bloomsburg University considers ranch dressing to be a food group. It was love at first taste and I cursed those wasted salads in my past! Ranch became a gateway dressing to Caesar and then finally Blue Cheese! It's been a real journey of salad dressing.
The dressing is actually amazingly simple. When you start making your own salad dressing at home, it kind of makes you feel silly that you spent all that money on the store bought stuff. This Blue Cheese Dressing is just mayonnaise, sour cream, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and blue cheese crumbles.
Oh, and salt and pepper.
As you can see, this recipe makes a bunch of dressing. I only used about half of it for the salad, so the rest will just wait in the fridge waiting for some un-suspecting vegetables.
Chopped salads are super fun, and the small pieces of chopped up lettuce help to ensure that you won't look like a caveman as you try to stuff huge leaves in your mouth. It's a very lady-like salad. With bacon. Doesn't this bacon look AMAZING! It's from that new butcher we found in Savannah!
While the bacon is cooking away, it's time to slice up the veggies. The lettuce is the star of the show, after the Blue Cheese Dressing, and it's simple to slice. This is how I slice it up- several slices lengthways through the head- about 4 slices.
Then lots and lots of slices widthways to make those small little chunks. I do this rather than doing the double knife chop chop that those crazy chefs in New York City do. That's too much for me- I'd lose a finger.
Finally, the cherry tomatoes are chopped up. Sliced into fours, that's all you need.
Bacon, glorious bacon. This just needs to be sliced into little strips and set aside.
And the chicken gets cooked in the bacon fat- along with a little pat of nonsalted butter.
This chicken will get sliced up just like the bacon. All that's left is assembly!
I always start with a little dressing, and then mix it up. If I need to add more dressing, I can, but it's always easier to add more than take some away! The chicken and bacon will get topped right on the salad and all that's left is to eat! My favorite part!
BLT Chopped Salad 
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped small
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut into fours
3 slices thick cut pepper bacon
2 chicken tender strips
Salt and pepper, to taste.
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup Perfect Blue Cheese Dressing

In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, cook bacon strips until crispy and browned. Set a side to cool. Place butter in pan with bacon grease. Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper, then add it to the butter/ bacon grease. Cook on either side for 3 minutes, or until the centers are at 165 degrees and no longer pink. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine together chopped lettuce, tomatoes and dressing in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Slice chicken and bacon. To assemble, serve dressed salad topped with sliced chicken and bacon. Enjoy!

Perfect Blue Cheese Dressing
Adapted from Simple Living Magazine.
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 clove garlic, minced very fine
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Salt, to taste
4 oz. crumbled blue cheese

In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and garlic. Stir in crumbled blue cheese and add black pepper. Taste before adding salt in small increments. Dressing can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy!