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Buffalo Chicken Chopped Salad & Other Super Bowl Recipes

Thanks to my newly-discovered love of watching football on TV, I’m super duper excited about the Super Bowl. (I even got a vintage-inspired Patriots sweatshirt to wear on Sunday to show my team spirit.) One of my fondest Super Bowl memories is from about a decade ago in California. Dave and I took over a table in a dark, wood-paneled sports bar with my parents, and we all drank beer and chowed down on chicken wings.

There will be no beer nor chicken wings at our Super Bowl bash this year. But I wondered if I could recreate the sensation of tender chicken, spicy sauce, and cool go-alongs for a healthier version that still tastes like “junk food.” Yes, technically wings are paleo, but they’re not exactly a food that makes us healthier. The proportion of fat to protein is unfavorably tilted toward the fat end of the scale — and the traditional dipping sauce of either blue cheese or ranch dressing usually means unfavorable industrial oils and dairy.

I got busy with my food-gination (Yes, I just made up a new word!) and tinkered in the kitchen. The result: Buffalo Chicken Chopped Salad.

The wings are replaced with lean chicken breasts (“brined” in the slow cooker) so the fat in the recipe can be concentrated in two other flavor sources I consider essential: the clarified butter in the wing sauce and the homemade mayo in ranch dressing. Instead of a few sad stalks of celery on the side like an after-thought, the chicken rests on a crisp bed of chopped salad. Touchdown!

Buffalo Chicken Chopped Salad

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

Chicken
2 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon salt
4 cups water
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salad
1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 large cucumber, sliced very thin and quartered
2 stalks celery, sliced very thin
1/2 medium onion, sliced into very thin moons
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced

Ranch Dressing
1/4 cup homemade mayo
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons dried chives
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and black pepper, to taste

“Wing” Sauce
2 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee
1/4 – 1/3 cup hot sauce (I like Louisiana.)

Directions:

Cook the chicken: I learned with The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat that brining pretty much saves boneless, skinless chicken breasts from flavorlessness. So I decided to combine the brining technique with the slow cooker. It worked great! If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can poach the breasts on the stovetop instead.

For the slow cooker: Place all chicken-related ingredients in the slow cooker, cover, and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 3-4 hours.

For the stovetop: Put all chicken-related ingredients in a pan, bring to a boil, then simmer, partly covered, for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let chicken rest in the hot water spa for an additional 15-=20 minutes, then follow the rest of the instructions below.

Prep the salad: Slice all the salad ingredients as thinly as possible. If you have a mandoline slicer, all the better. (I shaved the cucumbers and celery on the finest blade of my manoline slicer, and it was perfect.) Toss everything in a very large bowl and refrigerate until it’s time to assemble.

Make the dressing: Place all ingredients — except salt and pepper — in a small bowl and mix energetically with a fork until blended. Taste, then season with salt and pepper.

Sauce the chicken: Either in the slow cooker or a large bowl, shred the chicken with two forks. It should fall apart pretty easily. Do not be bummed out by its bland color; we’re about to fix that! Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the fat. When it’s melted, add the chicken, toss to coat, then pour in the hot sauce and toss until it’s coated and kinda shiny. You can either stop there, or if you’re like me and are addicted to caramelization, let it sizzle for a few minutes to earn some brown bits.

Assemble: Toss the salad with the ranch dressing — I started with two tablespoons of dressing and added just a little at a time until the vegetables were coated but not swimming in dressing. Toss for at least two minutes for maximum coverage. Divide the salad between plates and top with a mound of Buffalo Chicken. Dig in!

Other Super Bowl-Worthy Paleo Recipes

In case you need more dino-chow approved ideas for your Super Bowl bash, I’ve pulled together a list of sporty food guaranteed to please even non-paleo eaters. Hut, hut… hike!

Mains
My Favorite (chocolate) Chili

Mexican Meatza Pie
Deconstructed Gyro Salad
Stovetop Pork Carnitas
Moroccan Meatballs (Bake the meatballs, stick on a toothpick, and serve the sauce on the side.)
Czech Meatballs

Middle Eastern Kebab Meatballs (Mix 1 lb. lamb/beef w/ 1 tablespoon of this spice blend. Bake 20-25 minutes @ 375F.)
Scotch Eggs (Slice into coins, then top with either mayo or a tiny dollop of mustard (or both!).
Riceless, No-Soy Sushi (Set out tiny bowls of coconut aminos (available at Whole Foods) or homemade substitute and wasabi for maximum yum factor.)

Nibbles
Marinated Olives

Spiced Nuts
. (Recipe includes a small amount of sugar. If you are eating 100% clean/Whole30, skip the sugar in the recipe.)
Caramelized Coconut Chips
Smoky Pear Bites
Kale Chips
Nori Chips

Raw veggies dipped in…
Tahini Dressing
Sunshine Sauce
Herbed Olive Oil
Baba Ghanoush

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36 Responses to “Buffalo Chicken Chopped Salad & Other Super Bowl Recipes”

  1. Deb says:

    Thank you for the ideas! All will love! GO PATS!!!!!

  2. Angela W says:

    Looks good, as always!

  3. Jean says:

    Just wondering…what would happen if you put hot sauce in the slow cooker with the chicken, as it was cooking? (I’m thinking it would still want some dressing after it’s done…)

    • Mel says:

      I decided against that because I wanted to “brine” the chicken first so it would stay tender. However, you really can’t mess up with a slow cooker, so try it and see what happens.

  4. Andrea says:

    I’d add Bora Bora Fireballs to the menu! Those things ROCK!

  5. aseafish says:

    Buffalo chicken wings with lots of hot buttery sauce, dipped in tart and creamy blue cheese dressing is a dish I would dream about if I had such dreams. It’s one of the few flavor and texture combos I still miss, inspite of the fact that they always made me sick afterward.

    This salad sounds like a fun way to shift that fantasy. Your brining directions produced a really moist and flavorful chicken breast without making too squishy, thanks. I was delighted, too, to see the coconut oil option in your recipe. As much as I love butter, it’s a thing of the past for me. I can’t even handle ghee or clarified butter, darn it. Can’t wait to try this.

    pamela

  6. Lisa says:

    Wow. As usual your recipe looks amazing!

    Have you read “Lunch in Paris… A love story with recipes” by Elizabeth Bard? I find myself thinking… how could I paleo-ify this recipe.

  7. Melissa M says:

    Reading this recipe made me literally groan out loud. What a dynamite sounding combination! We’re gonna have to give this a shot.

  8. Mel says:

    Mel, this sounds delicious! I just bought your cookbook, too (also sounds delicious). We’re 90% done with a kitchen remodel, so I can’t wait to have a stove again (although I *do* have a slow cooker out!)

  9. Kelly R. says:

    Mel – you are brilliant!!!!!

    I received Well Fed and had my first Weekly Cookup on Sunday. It took 2 hours, but I am sure that once I can trust myself and not re-read the directions five times, it will be quicker.

    The only issue I had was my extremely messy kitchen. It literally looked like a bomb hit it. There were purple marks all over the counter, fridge, floor and even the walls from the cabbage! It will take time for me to let go of the obsessive-complusive need to keep up with the dishes. Next week, my goal is to embrace the mess.

    I have already had a Thai hot plate and an American hot plate. Both were delicious!! I can’t wait to cook Pad Thai tonight. I have already made the sunshine sauce and I only have one word to express my feelings for this recipe – Heaven.

    • Mel says:

      I completely destroy my kitchen when I do my cookups, too. It’s fun, no?! I find purple cabbage prints on the freezer door and Brussels sprouts hiding under the stove ;-)

      Hope your Pad Thai was awesome. YAY for Hot Plates, too!

  10. Dare says:

    Thank you for this recipe! For the first time in two months, my girlfriend actually liked what I cooked for dinner!!

  11. Sarah says:

    Mel, love your buffalo chicken recipe. My cousin sent a similar recipe (below) to me last week. Do you think almond flour would work instead of the bread crumbs?

    Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
    2 tbsp olive oil
    1 stick unsalted butter
    3/4 cup Franks Hot Sauce(more for serving)
    2 lbs ground chicken
    2 lg eggs
    1cup minced celery
    2tsp coarse salt
    1 2/3cup dried bread crumbs (REPLACE THIS with ??)
    Ranch Dressing
    celery sticks
    Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat large baking sheet with olive oil and set aside. In small pot melt butter and hot sauce over low heat whisking often, remove from heat and pour into large bowl. Let cool for 10-15 minutes. Add eggs and coarse salt, mixing well. Stir in celery and bread crumbs. Mix in chicken. Once mixed roll into 1 inch balls and place on prepared baking sheet, making sure they touch on all sides. Bake 10-15 minutes,remove from oven and allow them to sit on pan 10 minutes. Transfer to serving platter and drizzle with hot sauce. Serve with dressing and celery sticks.

    • Mel says:

      You have two options:
      - use almond flour in the meatballs instead of bread crumbs
      - just make the meatballs without a “filler”

      Generally, breadcrumbs are used in meatballs to make them slightly more tender, but I like them just fine without any filler. 1 2/3 cups is a pretty big amount of almond flour — that’s a lot of omega-6 for not much reward, but that’s a personal choice.

      Other than that, the recipe looks awesome!

  12. Elizabeth says:

    Made this last week and it was great! Plan to make it again this week. It was so good that I hoarded the leftovers and kept them all for myself. Thanks!

    And I have to say, I have a whole collection of Paleo cookbooks and yours is my absolute favorite. Love the layout and have had success with all the recipes. Well, except for the one that calls for Chinese Five Spice but that is only because we don’t care for that flavor. The technique was fine. Keep the recipes coming!

    • Mel says:

      HA! I do that sometimes, too… “hide” stuff in the back of the fridge so i can eat the leftovers. Then I feel guilty… then I think of it as “tax” because I do all the cooking.

      Thank you SO much for the sweet words about Well Fed. I’m thrilled that you’re enjoying it.

  13. Tash says:

    I am making this one tonight and I’m too excited….

  14. [...] Buffalo Chicken Chopped Salad from TheClothesMaketheGirl.com. How could it NOT be good? I don’t think I have ever had a bad dish of Melissa’s. This totally fixes the craving for some bar food. The heat from the chicken mixed with the cool salad was very pleasing! You must try it. It also does very well with leftovers. [...]

  15. Catherine says:

    Hi! I just bought Well Fed and I am just LOVING your recipes these days. I made this tonight and it was delish — I can’t wait to eat the leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

  16. Kathryn says:

    My friend told me about this recipe. I have made several others from your blog, including the mayonaise. My friend kept telling me how great this salad is, and it seems so simple, I didn’t get it. Then I made it!!!! WOW!!! I’m not sure what it is, but the combination of flavors is just amazingly good! Everyone should try this easy-to-make salad–you won’t be disappointed. It is rich and filling. Great summer recipe!

  17. [...] a quick salad with mixed green, cherry tomatoes, grilled chicken and home made ranch dressing from here. Yeah the dressing saved my otherwise plain [...]

  18. [...] Buffalo Chicken Chopped Salad – ever get that chicken wing craving? This salad will satisfy [...]

  19. [...] I still plan to make this week: Moroccan meatballs, Crock-pot pork loin, beef stir fry, buffalo chicken, spaghetti squash with chicken sausage and marinara, and a whole lot of fun veggies and sides. Oh [...]

  20. Andrea says:

    I’ve had this 3x in the past 10 days. I love it. It’s so simple and I always always have the ingredients on hand so when I’m lazy (which is often by the way) I make this delicious mix :) thanks again for keeping my husband and I (who LOVE food) happy and healthy.

  21. Jennifer D. says:

    I made this with Frank’s and used salmon instead of chicken based on a Food & Wine recipe I had made before. The kids declared this salad a “make again,” even though I accidentally used cayenne in the dressing instead of paprika. It had some zing for sure, but the iceberg, cukes, and celery were nice and cooling.

    Thanks for the idea.

  22. Amy says:

    I made this last night for my Day 17 supper. It was just the flavor combo “pick me up” that I needed. Instead of following the lettuce/celery/onion combo I did spinach, cucumber, avocado & hard boiled egg. I will definitely be making the chicken on a regular basis. Also, your mayo recipe has won over this Hellman’s gal. Your recipes, blog & Well Fed have been very helpful – thank you!!

  23. [...] ‘buffalo’ chicken salad – we adjusted this with what we had and it was leftover chicken from last night, franks red [...]

  24. brittany says:

    Ok, so I made your mayo last night and used it to make this ranch dressing. Then today I made this with my leftover crockpot chicken and the ranch. YUM! Real food is possible! Even for me!

  25. Kate H says:

    I am in LOVE with this recipe. It totally satisfied my craving for buffalo chicken and RANCH! I’ve made it twice, and I’m super pumped about the fact that making mayo is so easy! You are my paleo hero. I have tried many of your recipes, and plan on making many more! Thank you for sharing your culinary paleo genius with us :)

    • Mel says:

      Woot! I’m really glad you like this recipe and that you’re not a mayo master. Homemade mayo is such a helpful trick! Happy cooking to you!

  26. Liz W. says:

    This was awesome–thanks! I’ve become somewhat obsessed with Buffalo wings, as they’re oftentimes the best Paleo option when ordering pizza or dining out. This salad is hot and cool at the same time–perfect! I added Blue Cheese to the Ranch and used Frank’s Red Hot in the sauce. Delish!

  27. Suz says:

    Made this for day 21 on Superbowl nite. By far this has been the BEST recipe I’ve tried on Whole 30. The entire family LOVED it and asked to make it again. Took me 2 tries on the mayo and after watching a video with immersion blender it worked. I didn’t have dried chives so used fresh dill for the dressing and it was divine. Am making plantain nachos tomorrow. Thank you!

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