Earlier this summer we had quite the adventure in Ely. Derek & I were caught in a fast moving storm that produced straight-line winds. The portage to the lake we had been fishing on was covered with over twenty trees – all in a just a few minutes. The next day after the storm, we took a trip to our hunting land, which was less than 20 miles away as a crow flies and right in the path of the storm, to see what the impact was to our road and trails. It turns out everything was fine. A little googling later and we learned that most often these types of winds are localized – something I didn’t realize could happen as my previous experience was with the Boundary Waters Blowdown a massive straight-line wind event called a derecho which caused damage over a 1300 mile path. Adding to our worry was the fact that my sister and boyfriend were camping on a lake also in the path of the storm.
So why am I telling you about this? Because the following day Tory & AJ came out a little early and we all had dinner together. Food can really bring people together and we spent the meal discussing our varied experiences during the storm. And what we ate was this BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad.
Derek & I had on our meal list at home a BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad so that’s probably why it top of mind for meal ideas. This salad is some type of a mash-up of barbecue flavors (grilled chicken slathered in BBQ sauce, bacon, cheddar cheese, red onions, and grilled corn) with Mexican flavors (jicama, black bean, avocados, and tortilla chips) because we really just started naming off ingredients that sounded good to us to make the salad. We topped it all with a combination of Ranch and barbecue sauce and it turned out to be one of my favorite dinner salads to date. The memories of that first time we had it may have had something to do with that as well.
Here’s what you need:
Note: the container with the orange lid contains my homemade barbecue sauce. And there are bags of both seasoned tortilla strips and crispy fried onions because when I made this for the blog, I couldn’t make up my mind which one would be better. Turns out both are good J.
Pound some boneless skinless chicken breasts to an even thickness. Season the chicken breasts with Penzey’s Barbecue 3000 or another barbecue seasoning.
Grill the corn over a medium-high grill, until lightly charred. Turning to cook all sides. About 8 minutes total. Let it cool slightly then shave it off the cob with a knife or one of these cool corn cob strippers.
Put the chicken on the grill.
Now, normally I only flip chicken once, however, in order to get the barbecue sauce to caramelize onto the chicken we’re going to flip it a few times. Cook about 2 minutes each side and then start adding barbecue sauce. Flip every minute or so, cooking for a total of 8-10 minutes depending on the heat of your grill and the thickness of your chicken. Add barbecue sauce every time you flip. Finish by putting a final coat on the top side and letting it cook on for a minute.
Take the chicken off the grill and allow it to cool for about 5 minutes before chopping into bite sized pieces.
Meanwhile chop up the rest of the salad ingredients. I like to roughly chop the romaine. For toppings we chose: cherry tomatoes orange peppers, red onion, avocado, black beans, jicama, bacon, cheddar cheese, grilled corn and tortilla strips.
First I added the veggies, cheese, and black beans to a nice generous bed of lettuce (which is almost completely covered by the toppings in this picture).
Then toss on some chicken.
And drizzle on some ranch and barbecue sauce. I just went for the bottled stuff for this instead of making my own – sometimes the convenience is just worth it. Although we used homemade barbecue sauce for the chicken because it caramelizes so well, I went with bottled sauce for the salad dressing so I could choose something a little smokier.
Finish by topping with some tortilla strips, or crispy fried onion for a little crunch.
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 t Penzey’s Barbecue 3000, or other BBQ seasoning
- ½ c barbecue sauce
- 3 ears corn
- 2 hearts of romaine, chopped
- Jicama, peeled and diced
- Orange (or any color) pepper, diced
- Red onion, diced
- Acovado, chopped
- Black beans, rinsed
- Cherry tomatoes, quartered or halved
- Cheddar cheese
- Buttermilk ranch, homemade or store bought
- KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce (or your favorite kind)
- Tortilla chips or crispy fried onions
- Prepare grill for medium-high heat.
- Grill corn for approximately 8 minutes until lightly charred, turning to cook evenly. Allow ears to slightly cool then slice off the cob.
- Grill chicken for approximately 8-10 minutes total. Basting and turning frequently with the barbecue sauce to allow it to caramelize on. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes then chop into bite sized pieces.
- Assemble the salad by placing a bed of lettuce in a large bowl or plate and top with all the fixings and dressing.