I know what you are thinking.
Maple cinnamon vinaigrette?!?! Is this too good to be true?
The answer is yes. And no. What I am trying to say is that, while it is too good to be true, it’s true. We live in 2018 where 12 year olds are referring to their crushes as “snacks” (yes, we should be concerned) and we are allowed to put maple syrup on our salads. It is a weird, wonderful world.
This salad begins with chicken. This recipe is a bit more high maintenance than my typical chicken salads where it is a quick sear and then on to the chopping block.
For this chicken we are pulling out all the stops. Brown butter, extra thin chicken filets, and the most incredible pan sauce.
So yes, it is a bit more leg work, but now that the sun is setting at 5pm and it’s way too cold to go for an evening stroll, what else have we got to do but make ourselves fancy salads and watch A Million Little Things (OH. MY. GOSH. my tear ducts haven’t taken such a beating since Downton Abbey)?
Before you ask, of course I am using my dining room wallpaper as a backdrop AGAIN because it is freaking gorgeous and it was an absolute nightmare to hang, so I’m getting every bit of use out of it.
Now, let’s make a salad!
Rather than bothering with the hassle of pounding out our chicken breasts, I trimmed up a single breast and sliced it lengthwise using a very sharp knife. Afterwards, you will be left with two, thin, quick-cooking filets.
I browned a bit of butter in my favorite skillet, dropped in some sage, and then seared the filets on both sides. Golden, juicy, and full of flavor.
After you have cooked your chicken, it is time to prep those greens. Toss together some baby kale (our new favorite) and spring greens and roughly chop using a pair of kitchen scissors. This is so much faster than using a knife and you can chop them up right in the serving bowl!
Top the greens with toasted pecans and sliced oranges.
Remember all those browned bits that were left in the skillet after we cooked our chicken? Well they are going to become the base of our vinaigrette.
Deglaze the pan with a bit of orange juice, scraping up all those wonderful flavor bits as the juice simmers away.
Next, add in some vinegar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and olive oil. I like to make my dressings in a jar or squeeze bottle so I can just give it a couple good shakes and then use.
Time to drizzle. This is one of those times where being heavy-handed is a very good thing.
Just look at that gorgeous amber hue!
Now comes the chicken and crumbled bacon.
There are just so many incredible flavors. So many unexpected layers of citrus, fat, sweet, and crunch - yet everything is in perfect balance. This might be my favorite salad of all time.
Dinner is served.
Mixed Green Salad with Oranges, Sage Brown Butter Chicken
& Maple Cinnamon Vinaigrette
for the chicken
1 large boneless skinless chicken breast
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large sprig sage
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
Slice the chicken breast lengthwise so you are left with two thin filets. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
Place butter in a medium frying pan and set over medium heat. Once the butter has melted add fresh sage. Swirl the pan every so often until the butter is brown and sizzling.
Add the seasoned filets to the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side. The filets should be lightly browned and the internal temperature should register at 160 degrees F.
Remove the chicken breasts from the pan and allow to cool, then return the pan to the burner and whisk in orange juice, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat.
Strain the pan sauce through a fine mesh strainer and into a medium jar. Set aside.
salad toppings & assembly
4 rashers applewood smoked bacon
3/4 cup raw pecans
3 ounces mixed greens
1 ounce baby kale
4 medium naval oranges, cut into supremes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and top with a cooling rack. Lay the bacon across the cooling rack and bake for 10-15 minutes; until the bacon is crisp.
Allow the bacon to cool, then roughly chop and set aside.
Pour pecans over the surface of a clean baking sheet and place in the 350 degree oven until toasted and fragrant; 3-5 minutes.
Mix the greens together in a large bowl and roughly chop with kitchen scissors. Toss in orange supremes, toasted pecans and prepared chicken.
Prepare the vinaigrette.
for the vinaigrette
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Add maple syrup, ground cinnamon, apple cider vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil to the jar containing the pan sauce. Shake until well combined.
Drizzle over the salad and serve immediately. Enjoy!