This chicken salad with mango salsa recipe is so exceptional because of the diversity of temperatures, textures, and taste. Each time you take a bite, you’ll be satisfied with how delicious and refreshing your lunch is. But you must know a few things about dressing, salsa, and how to sear the chicken.
To make an awesome salsa, you need the freshest, best-quality products. And since it’s not for a restaurant but your own satisfaction, don’t prepare salsa hours before serving. Cutting chili, mango, pepper, and herbs on the spot gives you the best aroma and taste.
Dressings and all kinds of sauces are why I fell in love with cooking. They are the expression of how flavors work, and this dressing is no exception. I made a 1-DAY FREE COURSE about it and highly recommend using this opportunity. It will take 7 minutes, and gonna boost you with knowledge. So, go and get it!
Let’s talk about chicken breast (and how to sear it)
Chicken breasts are inexpensive, good-looking on a plate, and one of the most edible proteins in the world. But, unfortunately, they are most prone to dry out.
Breast meat has very little fat and almost no connective tissue, which are important to ensure meat juiciness. On the other hand, chicken tights contain lots of collage. At around 68°C, it unravels into gelatin and makes the meat tender and juicy.
Consequently, to cook chicken breast tender instead of dry and chewy, we must pay a lot of attention to the temperature and timing.
‘Some foods, such as eggs, can be cooked to a stopwatch, whereas the art of cooking meat is knowing when to stop.’
Poultry should be cooked to 75°C. Reaching this temperature kills harmful bacteria. But if you overstep this point and get to even 80°C, there’s a high chance of overcooking the breasts. On that account, use a thermometer and a stopwatch. You shouldn’t be searing chicken breasts longer than 13 minutes (depending on their size).
If you wish to be even more sure if you did everything right, I’m gonna tell you another thick.
Pierce the flesh a bit with a sharp knife to see what color juices are running out.
If the juices run clear, the meat is done, you can eat it safely. But if there is some pinkness, cook it longer because the myoglobin pigments haven’t unraveled yet, and the core temperature hasn’t reached 75°C.
How organic, free-range, and indoor chicken differ?
When we go to a supermarket to buy the chicken, we don’t take the first one we see. Instead, we look closer to check whether it’s looking nice, clean, firm, not too big, which could mean injection with water.
I recommend checking whether it is organic, free-range, or indoor as well. And don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about any chicken rights.
I’m talking from a gastronomy perspective.
- Indoor chicken meat is quite tender but doesn’t have flavor.
- Free-range has more protein, which seems a good point, but stress levels are high, and that causes dry and acidic meat. So not much quality.
- Organic chicken is firmer, flavorsome, and has more omega-3 fats.
Does brining help to tenderize the meat?
The answer is YES. And it not only tenderizes poultry but seasons it as well. Therefore, I suggest adding more herbs and spices. It will also improve the aroma.
To make a brine, you need:
- 1L water
- 30g sugar
- 50g salt
- half of the lemon juice
- more herbs and spices you like
- Mix everything well; the salt and sugar have to dissolve. No heat.
- Place the breast in brine and leave it in a fridge for 12-24 hours. If you leave it for a longer time, don’t worry, everything is fine.
- When it’s done, rinse and dry, and check how to sear the chicken in the pan below.
How to use stainless-steel pan?
To cook protein, vegetables, or simply anything, you have to choose a proper-sized pan. Why?
Instantly after you place protein in the pan, where the meat is in contact with the metal, the temperature will drop down and immediately start to recharge.
If the pan is too large, there is too much space for different temperature oil around the protein. Most importantly, oil is much hotter than it would be in a small-sized pan after placing the meat. As a result, it will cause burnt edges and a weak sear in the middle of the meat surface.
I don’t know if a lot of you, but I love stainless steel pans. It is a great heat conductor (which means it makes a nice crust), but you have to know how to use it properly, or you’re gonna hate it.
Firstly, the pan has to be heavy-bottomed. It gives extra heat rotation and causes even heat throughout the pan (no hot or cold spots).
Secondly, before pouring oil, you have to heat the pan smokin’ hot. The point is that the stainless steel pan has tiny pores that open and close while the pan is heating up. You want them to be completely closed (around 200°C). Only then add the oil. It will float and won’t soak into pores.
Lastly, coat the pan entirely with oil. It is a heat transfer and causes a propper browning.
How to sear the chicken breast in a stainless steel pan
- If you brined the chicken breast, take it out, rinse thoroughly, and dry with a paper towel.
- Heat the pan smokin’ hot. Pour sunflower (or canola) oil to coat the pan surface fully and heat a bit more.
- Place the chicken from yourself in the pan.
- Cook it on each side for about 5-6 minutes. Regulate the heat! Each side has to have a nice crust, look inviting to eat. If it has a weak crust, only starting to golden, cook it longer.
- Take the chicken out of the pan into a plate and coat it with aluminum foil.
- Let it rest for 6 minutes. It’s the most important part! During this stage, the temperature will distribute evenly through the whole breast and make the meat even more tender and juicier.
Chicken salad recipe with mango-avocado salsaCourse: Lunch, DinnerDifficulty: Easy
2 chicken breasts or chicken thigh fillets
1/2 red pepper, deseeded, and sliced julienne
lettuce (romaine, lolo rosa, rucola)
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup lime juices
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp honey
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 mango, diced
1/2 avocado, diced
1/2 red onion/shallot, diced
more fresh mint, to garnish
chili flakes or fresh red chili, to garnish
- Firstly, make the dressing. In a small bowl, place all the dressing ingredients and mix them. That’s it.
- Marinate the chicken. Pour 1/3 of the dressing on the chicken breasts, and rub them a little. I prefer pouring additional sunflower oil to improve the marinating process. Leave it aside for at least 15 minutes.
- While chicken is marinating, make the salsa. Dice mango, avocado, and onion. Place them in a medium-size bowl, pour half of the left dressing, and mix. I like salsa ingredients cut into different size cubes and have mango more than avocado, but that’s absolutely your choice.
- Cook the chicken. Before you do so, wash the breasts under cold water and drain them with a paper towel; otherwise, you’re gonna burn the herbs. Next, cook them in the pan on each side for about 5-6 minutes. Then cover in aluminum foil for additional 6 minutes.
- Finishing. While the chicken is cooking, slice the pepper in julienne and wash the lettuce. Place the lettuce on a plate, pour the left dressing on them, add red pepper and mango salsa. Once the chicken is done, nicely slice and place them on the lettuce. Decorate with some chili flakes, which I forgot, mint leaves, and lime wedges.
- If you’re looking for a quick salad, it’s enough to marinate the chicken for 10 minutes. But if you have more time and want really tender and flavorsome chicken, I recommend marinating for at least a few hours. It’s even better to keep it in the fridge overnight. Only make the dressing twice: first, for the chicken, and later on, for the salad, as we want the fresh aroma and flavor, and no soggy herbs in it.