Chicken Marinade:

3 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon liquid hickory smoke
2 chicken breasts, pounded flat (1/2-inch thick)
oil
ground black pepper


Balsamic Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
pinch ground black pepper
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Candied Walnuts:

1 teaspoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Salad:

4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
2 cups chopped red leaf lettuce
2 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
1 apple, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese


1. Prepare chicken marinade by combining water, salt, garlic powder and liquid smoke in a medium bowl. Mix until salt dissolves. Flatten two chicken breasts with a kitchen mallet to 1/2-inch thick. Drop chicken in marinade, cover and chill for 3 hours.

2. When chicken is done marinating, blot each breast dry, rub with oil, and grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side on high until done. Lightly pepper each breast while grilling.

3. Make the balsamic vinaigrette by combining all ingredients, except olive oil, in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until sugar is dissolved. Pour the oil in a thin stream into the bowl while mixing. Continue mixing for several seconds until the dressing thickens. Cover and chill.

4. Make the candied walnuts by combining peanut oil, honey, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium skillet over medium heat in the order listed. When mixture begins to bubble, add chopped walnuts and stir constantly until sugar begins to smoke and/or caramelize. Immediately turn off heat and keep stirring the nuts so that they do not burn. After a minute of stirring off the heat, pour nuts out onto a plate. When nuts cool, break them apart if they have stuck together.

5. Build each salad by tossing 2 cups romaine lettuce, 1 cup red leaf lettuce, and 1 cup iceberg lettuce with half of the chopped apple and 3 to 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette. Arrange greens on a plate and sprinkle on 2 tablespoons of crumbled bleu cheese followed by about 3 tablespoons of candied walnuts. Slice each chicken breast into thin strips and lay the chicken on top of the salad and serve.

Makes 2 salads.

Tidbits: You can save time by using precooked, grilled chicken breast strips that are available in the-deli section of your supermarket. Foster Farms is one leading brand.

Source: More Super Secret Restaruant Recipes by Todd Wilbur (Plume, Penguin Group, 2007)