Sometimes I try things at restaurants, grocery stores, or whatever, and think… Wow! This is terrible! But it’s a really good idea…
Is that weird? Such is the case with this chicken salad. Last week, I grabbed a container of blackened chicken salad from the refrigerated section of Whole Foods. I couldn’t believe what a great idea it was, and that I hadn’t thought of it, myself. But… then I tasted it… and it was bad, and flavorless, and too mayonnaise-y—super disappointing. But I was sure that blackened chicken salad could be good, hence this blackened chicken salad!
It’s everything the Whole Foods version wasn’t: seasoned, less mayonnaise-y, and full of much yummier mix-ins! Chicken breasts are coated in blackening spices and grilled to produce a great smokiness that permeates the whole salad. Skillet-browned corn and red bell pepper add a hint of sweetness and awesome crunch, while green onion and cilantro lend freshness and bite.
My personal favorite way to enjoy this chicken salad is in a wrap, but you could totally eat it over some lettuce, with some crackers, or by the forkful. It’s hard to go wrong.
If you’re not a mayo person, I would suggest replacing the mayo with Greek yogurt. I haven’t actually tried this myself, but I think the added tang would be nice!
I also think the wraps would be awesome with a few avocado slices, or even a little cheddar. WAIT what if you added cheddar and avocado, and then put these in a panini press until the cheese got all melty and grill marks formed… like some strange, twisted, but incredible version of a burrito?! Well, I think we all know what I will be doing with the leftovers, now.
Place your chicken breasts on a cutting board and cover them with plastic wrap. Lightly pound them until they are uniform thickness. (We don't really want to flatten them at all, just make them the same thickness throughout so they will cook evenly.)
Coat the chicken breasts with the melted butter, and then cover them in blackening spices and some salt (or other salty seasoning---I used Lawry's).
Heat a grill pan (or actual grill) over high heat. (I used a panini grill pan, so it has a top cast iron press piece as well. If you have that, make sure you place it in the skillet so it can heat up with the pan.)
If you're using a pan, place the chicken in the pan and then immediately turn the heat down to low. Grill on each side for 4-6 minutes until cooked through.
If you're using a grill, place the chicken on the grill, close the lid, then immediately turn down the heat and cook for 5-6 minutes, flipping if needed, until cooked through.
Allow the chicken to cool for about 10 minutes before chopping into bite-sized chunks.
In a small sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat. Add in the corn and a pinch of salt and cook, without stirring too much, until the kernels are browned.
In a large bowl, combine the cooked chicken, corn, and the remainder of the ingredients.
Mix until combined and season with salt, to taste. I like to refrigerate my chicken salad for a couple hours or overnight before serving.
To make the wraps:
Lay 2 pieces of lettuce in each wrap (lettuce end facing each other), layer 3-4 tomato slices, and scoop 1/4 of the chicken salad over the top.
Tightly wrap up, tucking the lettuce over the chicken salad as you go, to prevent a huge mess.