One of things I love about food blogging is participating in the “National Days” that are related to popular comfort foods. I’m not sure who is responsible for deciding what day is right for celebrating chocolate chip cookies or fried chicken or pepperoni pizza, but I know it’s fun! Here on Comfort du Jour, I have paid particular attention to National S’mores Day, and this year will be no exception (watch for that on August 10th).
This Friday is National Chicken Wing Day, proclaimed as such in 1977 by then-mayor of Buffalo, N.Y., Stan Makowski—and for this gal, who was born and raised just south of Buffalo, that’s a big deal! But I’m torn, because I have really been trying to dial it back on the heavy foods to get my health back on the right track. As much I love Buffalo wings (oh, how I do), I can’t justify deep frying tiny, skin-on chicken pieces, drenching them in sauce and then dragging them through bleu cheese dressing, just because it’s a “National Day.” Talk about a calorie explosion! I wanted to see if I could find a lighter way to enjoy the flavors associated with this “taste of home.” Here it is—Buffalo chicken salad.
All the flavors are represented: tender chicken (obviously), spicy Buffalo wing sauce, bleu cheese, even celery—but at a fraction of the fat and calories of the usual preparation. The chicken here is lean, skinless breast meat, and you can make that part super easy by picking up a deli-roasted chicken (you can use the rest for another meal), or you can poach them at home with a few aromatics and some chicken or veggie broth, as I did:
The dressing that wraps around the chicken shreds carries all the other flavors, beginning with mayonnaise and sour cream—just enough to hold it all together—and ending with however much Franks RedHot sauce tickles your fancy. To give it a really good kick, add a few pinches of cayenne pepper or keep it colorful with less heat by adding a spoonful of sweet paprika. This recipe is totally flexible to match your heat tolerance.
This recipe made four generous servings of chicken salad. I served it on leaves of soft butter lettuce as dinner, alongside an impromptu slab of garlic toast; the latter was my husband’s genius creation made from leftover hot dog buns and a few sprinkles of our favorite parm-romano blend cheese. It was a great meal, both for the flavor and the satisfaction of throwing a low-calorie twist on a classic comfort food.
Buffalo Chicken Salad
- 2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp. sour cream
- 3 Tbsp. Frank’s RedHot sauce (give or take, depending on your heat preference)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/3 cup bleu cheese crumbles
- 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
- 1/2 tsp. sweet Spanish paprika, optional for color
- A sprinkle of fresh, chopped parsley for garnish, if you’re feeling fancy
- In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, RedHot sauce, lemon juice, pepper and garlic powder. Whisk until evenly combined. Adjust hot sauce to taste.
- Add shredded chicken, onions and celery to the dressing bowl. Fold gently to combine ingredients. Taste the mixture and adjust seasonings to taste.
- Fold in bleu cheese crumbles and sliced scallions, plus paprika if desired for extra color.
- Cover and refrigerate Buffalo chicken salad until ready to serve.
When I got to the bottom of the bowl of Buffalo chicken salad, I lost my way a little bit on the whole “light and healthy” thing. I couldn’t resist putting an over-the-top spin on it. I know, but it sure was delicious, and still not as heavy as chicken wings! 🙂