When the weather takes a turn for the unbearably, beastly, suffocatingly hot here in Florida (right around the end of June) I start making a lot of salads, soups, stews, and sandwiches--anything to give the oven a break and not heat up the house. You think I left out grilling, right? Because this is the season when America collectively lights up their grills and throws on their hot dogs, ribs, hamburgers, and marinated chicken. Not here. The very last thing you want to do outside when it is 93 with a 104 heat index is stand over an open flame. Okay, we are going to have some BBQ this week, but that's just smoking and poor Bubba can close the lid and walk away for a while.
This recipe for mandarin chicken salad is super quick, easy, and extremely tasty. Best of all, it is also super filling. We didn't even want dessert afterward. Shocking, I know.
You will need:
lettuce (you choice of variety, I use a mix of iceberg and Romaine)
sweet and sour sauce/marinade
1 can mandarin oranges
chow mein noodles
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
I cleaned and cut up the chicken breasts into three pieces each (I used 6 breasts) and put them all in a Ziploc bag. I added 1/2 - 3/4 of the bottle of sweet and sour sauce. Chuck the bag into the fridge and leave it alone for at least 3 hours, overnight is best. **Store the leftover bottle of sauce in the fridge if you are leaving the chicken overnight**
I use a sweet and sour sauce that is much thinner than a traditional dipping sauce. It is more of a marinade than a sauce, really. I would not try using that ultra thick dipping sauce...I don't think it would coat the chicken properly and would probably burn when cooking owing to the high sugar content. My favorite marinade for this recipe is:
Your choice on how to prepare the marinated chicken. I sprayed a frying pan with cooking spray and cooked the chicken on medium high heat for 4 minutes on each side. But you could definitely grill them or even bake them (350 degrees for 20-25 minutes). It really won't make too much of a difference, unless you love that grilled flavor. :)
After the chicken is cooked, grilled, baked it is just a matter of putting together the ingredients on a bed of lettuce. I add about a handful of chow mein noodles per plate, about a tablespoon of almonds, a handful of oranges, and at least 3 pieces of chicken (equaling one chicken breast). For the dressing, I thin out some of the sauce with a bit of white vinegar. The bite of the vinegar cuts the mild sweetness of the sauce perfectly. For all four of us I used 1/4 cup of sauce and 1 tsp of vinegar total. You need very little dressing on this salad, just a drizzle.
How crazy tasty are those chow mein noodles. I could eat them like potato chips...and did. The whole family loves, loves, loves this salad. Make a little extra chicken so you will have leftovers. This chicken is amazing when eaten right out of the fridge, cold with a little bit of salt. Even better when standing in the kitchen eating it with your fingers. Enjoy!