Summer entertaining should be easy. It is just too hot to spend hours over a steaming stove. But that doesn’t mean a meal can’t be spectacular. And I am telling you, no one will feel cheated with a salad for dinner when it is this full of delicious, hearty components. I love laying this out on a big rectangular platter – it absolutely produces oohs and ahhs. But a big pretty bowl will work as well. The buttermilk poached chicken is tender with a hint of tang, and the buttermilk vinaigrette walks the line between creamy and light perfectly.
Here’s what I do to make this easy. I marinate and cook the chicken a day ahead and chill in the fridge, and hard boil the eggs keeping them in their shell in the fridge as well and whip up the dressing. Then before serving I put the bacon on a baking sheet in the oven to cook until crispy, then drain it on paper towels. Radishes and cucumbers can be sliced and cubed a few hours ahead. Cut the chicken into chunks, peel and slice the eggs, crumble the bacon and shortly before dinner is to be served, just assemble the salad. Serve with some lovely bread and you’ve got a full meal.
What I list here is a guide: go with whatever beautiful fresh vegetables you find. Avocado is traditional on a cobb salad, but I like refreshing locally grown cucumbers, paired with colorful radishes and bright tomatoes. Blue cheese adds a lot of tang, but goat cheese is wonderful too.
- Buttermilk Poached Chicken
- 3 ½ cups whole buttermilk
- 1 Tablespoon hot sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- Buttermilk Vinaigrette
- 2 green onions, very finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, put through a garlic press
- 2/3 cup whole buttermilk
- 6 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 heads of romaine lettuce
- 3 hard boiled eggs. sliced
- 3 large radishes. Thinly sliced
- 6 strips of bacon, cooked crisp
- ½ cup blue cheese
- ½ of a seedless cucumber, cubed
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
- Stir the buttermilk, hot sauce, and a hearty dose of salt and pepper together in a large saucepan. Add the chicken breasts and refrigerate for four hours or overnight. Place the pan over medium low heat and bring the buttermilk just to a simmer – do not boil. Cook just at a bubble until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 – 40 minutes. I like to use a probe thermometer to gauge that the chicken has reached 165 degrees. The buttermilk will separate and look a little curdled, that’s fine. When the chicken is cooked through, remove it and rinse off the curdy buttermilk. Pat the chicken dry, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Place all the ingredients in a pint jar and shake well to combined. I like to make this a day ahead so the flavors really meld together and store it in the fridge. Shake well before serving.
- Layer a large platter or salad bowl with torn romaine leaves, then top with the chicken, vegetables, eggs, bacon and cheese, Drizzle with the vinaigrette.