Wow- it is HOT here in Boston! I know, it IS summer, but for some reason I just do not do well in the heat! I don't feel like doing much of anything, so my cooking becomes, well, a lot less "cooked" and more blended and chopped. With the great 4th of July upon us during one of the hottest spells of the summer thus far, I knew that I wanted to make dishes for gatherings that required little time working with the stove/oven, and more with other handy kitchen utensils. So I decided to make a fun dip with pulled chicken since the chicken is pretty easy to make and doesn't require a lot of work during the cooking stage.
I started off by creating a quick rub for the chicken with what appears to be everything from my spice cabinet-always nice to have a range of flavors right? I combined brown sugar, cayenne pepper, Italian seasoning blend, smoked paprika, salt and a few other "secret" ingredients, and then poured the mix over five thin boneless, skinless chicken breasts waiting in a Ziploc bag. While they marinated a bit in their rub, I added chopped celery, onion, and garlic to a large sauce pan with just a tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt and pepper over medium heat. When the aromatics began to smell, I also added a couple of sprigs of cilantro, and then after a few more moments, I pour two small cans of chicken stock, and half of a large can of beer into the pot and brought to a simmer to allow the flavors to mingle and some of the alcohol to cook out, then I added the chicken to the pot and lightly covered. 20 minutes later, the chicken was done and I removed it from the liquid into a Tupperware container and set aside to cool.
In the meantime, I got to work on the rest of the dip. As you might have guessed from earlier posts, I love making dips. They are so amenable to getting creative with, so you can combine all sorts of different ingredients and come up with wonderful end products. Sunday, I decided to create a base of white beans blended with sour cream, hoping that the sour cream would make the beans creamy and refreshing, without making the dip overly heavy and caloric. In my Cuisinart I combined
two cans of Cannelloni beans with two tablespoons of light sour cream, the juice of one lime, chopped cilantro, a clove of garlic and a dash of salt. After a quick few minutes of blending, the end product had great flavors from the hints of lime, the cilantro and the tang of the sour cream. It was a great way of tricking the taste buds into thinking that they were eating fully on sour cream, but with all of those great nutrients of the beans.
I then removed the dip from the appliance bowl and placed about 75% of it in a mixing bowl, and the remainder I reserved in a small container just in case. To the mixing bowl, I then added 1/2 can of black beans, a red bell pepper chopped, 1/2 a jalapeno, lime zest, a few sliced black olives, and a bit more chopped cilantro. Then I set to work pulling the chicken. I actually love pulling meat- two forks, one container and the fun of ripping apart food! It is rather therapeutic! I absolutely stole a piece of chicken or two during the process and was really pleased with the flavor, a little spicy from the cayenne, a little smokey from the paprika, but with a great background of sweet from the brown sugar- definitely a great combination of flavors- and so tender and juicy!
When I finished pulling the chicken, I just added it to the mixing bowl of dip ingredients and stirred away. It was then that I realized that it wasn't really a "dip" but much more a tasty chicken salad that I would happy to eat either as a sandwich, or in a lettuce wrap (yum)! However, lettuce had not been purchased that day, and sandwiches wouldn't do as my contribution, so I brought my pulled chicken concoction to The Small Boston Kitchen's gathering as a dip.
It was a bit unwieldy on a chip, and made for an awkward bite, but it was delicious! I would have liked a bit more heat from the jalapeno, especially since the sour cream flavor offered cooling properties, but the other flavors just combined so nicely that it was hard to complain about lack of spice. Each bite presented something a little different, whether it was a bit of lime, perhaps the salty tang of olives, some sweet heat from the chicken or just the earthy goodness of the beans.
This chicken salad dip was so easy to make, delicious to eat, and provided such great nutritional value, I know I'll be making it many more times. I am thrilled that I have leftovers for lunch!!
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