Chili Garlic Shredded Kale Salad… with Fried Chicken. Yep.

{pittsburgh friends! i’m signing books tomorrow, 9/23, at penguin bookshop in sewickley at 6PM. come hang out!}

Helllllllllo balance.

chili garlic kale salad... with fried chicken I howsweeteats.com

Let’s talk about it.

Like salad and French fries.

Dark chocolate and almonds.

Veggie burgers with bacon.

Kale and fried chicken.

It works.

It’s my favorite subject. My favorite way to eat!

chili garlic kale salad... with fried chicken I howsweeteats.com

You miiiiiight have noticed that it looks like I’m back on the chicken train. I finally am cool with eating it again after months of not even wanting to be near it. And while I don’t want it more than once every two weeks or so, I’ve actually been able to throw together some decent flavorful recipes when it comes to poultry. I’d like to keep my chicken game up because there is NOTHING worse than another boring chicken meal. Am I right?

For years I’ve been making the oven-crisp chicken fingers and those are awesome. I’m never one to gravitate towards fried chicken, but I speculate that’s only because I’ve never really had it done right. I’ve had delicious bites at a restaurant or two but my most frequent memory of it includes graduation parties or buffets where it’s all soggy and sad. I was just not into it.

BUT. Eddie loves fried chicken in a way that only a serious carnivore can. I mean… yesterday he devoured an ENTIRE fried chicken (like the whole chicken, yes) on top of a waffle to cap off his birthday weekend.

It was serious business.

chili garlic kale salad... with fried chicken I howsweeteats.com

A few weeks before the book tour started is when chicken and I picked up where we’d left off. In the span of one week I made the BBQ chicken French breads and then I wanted to surprise Eddie with this fried chicken because I knew he’d be soooo excited when he got home from work. It was Monday and well, I’m a little partial to Monday meals, so salad had to be included.

I know you know what a Monday meal is. Sometimes they’re the worst.

Today, they’re the best.

chili garlic kale salad... with fried chicken I howsweeteats.com

I also like to think of this meal as the perfect bridge between summer and fall. Or autumn. Should we call it autumn? It’s so much prettier. Duh.

Anyhoo, it’s like summer with a cold and crunchy kale salad. And autumn with a crispy-coated comforting piece of fried chicken. I think that kale is technically in season now? But it sure seems like a combo of the two seasons to me. Again, the perfect balance. For those moments when it’s sweltering in the car during the day in hot sunlight but freezing at night when it dips into the 40s and you leave the AC on. You get it.

 

chili garlic kale salad... with fried chicken I howsweeteats.com

So first, I’m totally in love with the kale salad because of the flavor. We have sesame oil and some chili garlic paste and even honey and then you MASSAGE your kale because that’s what we do in 2014 and apparently we’re all freaks. Who would have thought that in order to be palatable, kale really just needed a little rub down?

If only all things were that simple to figure out.

Note: it’s seriously fantastic. It has some crunchy peanuts on top! I die.

And second, this chicken is melt-in-your-mouth worthy. I used boneless, skinless thighs and double dipped them in buttermilk and it was just crazy decadent and delicious. Not something I will do super often since I’m fairly lazy but we went nuts over it. It was SO worth the extra time and effort for frying. It wasn’t a special occasion… but you can definitely make today one? Because I say so.

chili garlic kale salad... with fried chicken I howsweeteats.com

Shredded Kale Salad with Fried Chicken

Ingredients:

kale salad
2 large heads of kale (I used curly green kale)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons golden balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon chili garlic paste
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts

buttermilk fried chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 quart buttermilk
vegetable oil for frying
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

kale salad
Remove the thick center stems from each leaf of kale, then run your knife through the kale until it is shredded. Place the kale in a bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the olive oil, sesame oil, vinegar, chili garlic paste and honey. Pour it over the kale and massage the kale with your hands, tossing and flipping for a good 5 minutes. Place the bowl of kale in the fridge until ready to use.

buttermilk fried chicken
A few hours or even the night before, place the chicken in a baking dish and cover with about 2 cups of buttermilk. Flip to coat, then flip the chicken occasionally to keep the buttermilk coating even. When you're ready to fry, add about 4 inches of vegetable oil to a large pot fitted with a candy thermometer over medium heat. You want the oil to reach 350 degrees F - no higher!

Add 2 cups of flour in one bowl and 2 cups of flour in another bowl. Add half of the salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder to bowl, stirring well to coat. Place third bowl in the center of the bowls of flour and fill it with the remaining buttermilk.

Once the oil is hot, take a piece of chicken from the buttermilk. Dredge it in the flour. Dip it in the bowl of buttermilk, then in the second bowl of flour, coating well. You can use your fingers and add a few drops of milk to the chicken in the flour to give it that flakey coating. Add the chicken to the oil. I fry 1 to 2 pieces at a time - for about 10 minutes each. Depending on the side of your chicken thighs you may need to adjust the time. Most likely, it needs to be fried for at least 8 minutes to cook the inside. I flip it once or twice while frying. After frying, place the chicken on a cooling rack with a paper towel underneath.

When ready to serve, toss the salad with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the peanuts on top. Slice the fried chicken and add it on top of the kale. Eat away!

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chili garlic kale salad... with fried chicken I howsweeteats.com

soooo balanced.