Buttermilk crisp chicken and crunchy salad with sriracha mayo dressing

Katrina Meynink is on a mission to bring back the iceberg lettuce with this chicken salad.
Katrina Meynink is on a mission to bring back the iceberg lettuce with this chicken salad. Photo: Katrina Meynink

Adding the chicken to the buttermilk results in the most wondrous end result. The buttermilk tenderises the chicken and for best results, pop in the fridge overnight, but even a few hours in the brine are better than none at all, and is a step worth preserving for the best soft meat, crisp exterior chicken. You can also serve the dressing in a jug on the side so people can help themselves.

Ingredients

Dressing

¼ cup smoky barbecue sauce

2 tbsp honey

¾ cup Kewpie mayonnaise

3 tsp sriracha sauce (or more to taste)

Chicken

2 chicken breasts

300ml buttermilk

3 cups panko breadcrumbs

¼-½ cup rice bran oil

Salad

½ an iceberg lettuce, leaves pulled, coarsely torn*

1 cup mixed herbs, such as basil, dill, oregano and flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

3 avocados, hulled and sliced**

2 radishes, very thinly sliced

Method

1. To make the sriracha mayo dressing, whisk the ingredients in a bowl to combine. Taste and adjust the sriracha according to your chilli tolerance.

2. Working one at a time, place a chicken breast on a cutting board so a short side is towards you. Holding a chef's knife parallel to the breast, slice horizontally along the centre of a long side to make a slit. Continue to slice until you are about 1cm from the other side. Open the breast up like a book and place between 2 sheets of baking paper or plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet or a rolling pin, pound until the chicken is 2 centimetres thick. This even thickness will help prevent over- and under-cooking the chicken in spots. Repeat with the second chicken breast.

3. Combine the buttermilk and ¼ cup dressing in a large bowl. Add the butterflied chicken pieces and submerge for 20 minutes, 2 hours, or even overnight, if you have the forward planning gene.

4. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced (200C conventional).

5. Working one piece at a time, shake the chicken from the excess buttermilk marinade and then add to a large shallow bowl of the panko crumbs. Pat to cover both sides entirely in panko crumbs. Complete with remaining chicken.

6. Place a large ovenproof frypan over high heat. Add the oil and once hot and shimmering, add the chicken and cook until golden on one side, it should take 1-2 minutes. Flip the chicken then pop the pan into the oven. (This enables the chicken to cook through while reducing your risk of burning the crumbed exterior.) Leave in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and place chicken on a cutting board. Allow to cool before slicing into 2cm thick slices.

7. Combine the salad ingredients in a bowl, add the crisp chicken pieces and gently toss together. Drizzle over the dressing and season generously with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

*Can we please bring back the iceberg? It got pushed to the side when rocket first came to town (remember alllll the rocket and toasted pine nut salads?) and then the love of kale that will not end (also guilty!). But really, it's a wondrous leaf – it can act as a vessel to carry food directly from plate to mouth like no other can, and there is little else on this planet you can eat that distinctly feels like you are eating water.

**This guy is heavy on the avocados, you can pare back or increase as you see fit. Its creaminess pairs like a dream with the chicken and the crispness of the iceberg.