France kitchen 1, Jill 0.
Although this plate looks beautiful (in my opinion) and was so delicious, it wasn’t as easy getting it on the table as one would think. Salads are known to be quick, easy and harmless, right? Well….apparently not so much in a French kitchen, using an electric hotplate element.
I was hesitant about the hotplate element from the start and knew that it was going to be an adjustment. Although I cook with electric heat at home in Canada, it is at least a proper oven and I’ve used them my whole life. We tried to find an apartment with a more ‘cook friendly’ kitchen, but it is nearly impossible in this small town, unless we wanted to pay twice what we are now (which isn’t feasible on our budget!). We stayed at a B&B the first two nights here, and the owner told us that most French kitchens are small and ill-equipped as most French people eat out during the evenings (remind me to also talk about some eating habits we’ve already noticed here…that’s to come in a future post).
Anyways, back to the story. We went to the local artisian market, which is literally next door to us and features all local French vendors selling everything you can imagine. The produce is incredibly fresh, the meats are gorgeous and if you want to see a selection of cheese…this is where to find it (I will be taking pictures, don’t worry…I just want to try and get to know the vendors a little and find my way around before lugging out this big camera and snapping away!) CH and I happily wandered around for more than an hour, selecting things for a gourmet, meal sized salad. We left with an assortment of lettuces, local cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and cooked beets (which I just discovered and fell in love with – I previously didn’t like them!). We also bought a log of fresh local goat cheese (for €1.05) and a small package of chicken breasts. Off we went to create our meal sized salad, to be enjoyed on our patio with a glass of wine, overlooking the square.
I prepared all of my salad ingredients, happy as could be. All I had left to do was cook the chicken tenders….I heated the cook-top, heated my All-Clad saute pan, and added oil. In went the chicken tenders, which began to brown nicely. Then….I thought to myself….that is a lot of smoke, and it is thick, which isn’t typical for chicken – even at a high heat. I called for CH, realized it was the hotplate itself and went into operation “OMG” mode. I turned the element off, unplugged it from the wall, removed the pan and began fanning it furiously with a towel. I was able to flip it over and notice that it was coming from the bottom/underneath of the pan. Yupp, it was on fire. Lovely. I was still fairly calm and realized that it wasn’t totally on fire, so I just continued to wave a towel and wait it out. The smoke finally subsided and was under control. We placed in on the balcony, to finish cooling off, and CH sat with it, while I finished preparing dinner. At this point, I had 3/4 cooked chicken tenders and no source of heat, other than the microwave. I put it on low heat, placed the chicken on a plate, and hoped for the best. It wasn’t the best chicken I’ve ever had or made, but in small pieces it wasn’t too chewy, thank goodness.
We now have another funny cooking story to add to the memory bank, and I am grateful that it wasn’t more serious and there was no damage done. I’ve emailed the landlord and requested it be replaced immediately, with a more reliable appliance, meaning it wont light on fire when I go to use it. Wish me luck with that!
This salad was definitely delicious and was enjoyed with a well deserved glass of wine. We both were in the mood for fresh greens and plenty of vegetables, and this hit the spot. Of course, goat cheese in CH’s world makes everything better, so why not, eh?
Not to mention that this is a very typical French salad, and I was inspired to make it as I had one similar to this on our second night here. Simple, fresh flavours make one delicious dinner.
Enjoy (and I promise I will be careful with hotplate elements from now-on!)
Salade au fromage de chèvre et de poulet
Yield: 2 meal sized salads
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes for the chicken (or more if dealing with hotplate fire!)
- 6 cups of lettuce (a mixture of your favourites)
- 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1/2 large cucumber, seeded and diced
- 1/4 red pepper, diced
- 1/4 green pepper, diced
- 1 small shallot, diced
- 1 medium cooked beet, diced
- 1 chicken breast, cut into 1-inch strips
- 6 round slices of goat cheese (or crumbled goat cheese)
- splash of quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp of white wine vinegar (I didn’t use any)
Prepare all of your salad ingredients and mis en place (French for put in place).
Heat a medium sized sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil and allow to warm until glistening. Season chicken tenders with S&P and add to pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes per side, until nicely browned and cook through. Remove from heat and pat with paper towels to remove extra oil. Dice chicken into bite sized pieces.
In a large bowl, place all of your salad ingredients, except the chicken, goat cheese and beets.
Add 1 – 2 tbsp of olive oil to the salad mixture, sprinkle generously with S&P and toss well to coat.
Divide the salad onto two plates and top each with chicken, goat cheese and beets.
Serve with a glass of French rosé or sauvignon blanc and enjoy!
A JBean French Cuisine Original Recipe