A salad with nothing but vegetables is a side dish. That’s the way I see it. Even if you add the most luscious and colorful fruits, if there is no meat, it’s still a side dish. But add meat, especially meat with lots of texture, and a salad can be a complete meal.
Can chicken nuggets be substituted? Yes, if you want to cut down on prep and cooking time. But if you use commercial chicken nuggets, there’s no way you can control the flavors because they come pre-seasoned.
What’s the difference between chicken nuggets and popcorn chicken anyway? Chicken nuggets are made with ground chicken scrap and trimmings. Skin, fat, and bits and pieces of meat. Popcorn chicken is made with pure fillet meat. That said, you decide whether substituting chicken nuggest is a viable option.
- 4 to 5 large chicken thigh fillets or 2 to 3 breast fillets
For the chicken seasoning
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
For the salad
- 1 large head Romaine lettuce
- 2 kiwi fruits
- 2 ripe mangoes
- 12 cherry tomatoes
- Ranch Dressing
- 1 generous pinch cayenne powder
To fry the popcorn chicken
- 2 to 3 cups cooking oil
- Pat the chicken thigh fillets dry. Cut into 1 ½-inch cubes.
- In a bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the chicken seasoning. Add the chicken cubes. Mix well. Cover the bowl and leave the chicken to marinate while you prepare the salad.
- Rinse the Romaine lettuce. Tear into smaller pieces. Dump in the salad spinner and spin to dry.
- Peel the kiwi fruits and mangoes, and cut into one-inch cubes.
- Halve the cherry tomatoes.
- Stir the cayenne powder into the Ranch dressing.
- Toss the lettuce, kiwi, mangoes and cherry tomatoes with about a tablespoonful of the Ranch dressing.
- Heat enough cooking oil in a wok or frying pan to reach a depth of two inches. The ideal temperature is 350F. If you don’t have a thermometer, dip a bamboo skewer in the oil; if tiny bubbles form around it, the oil should be hot enough.
- Place the flour, egg whites and panko in three shallow bowls.
- Dredge each piece of chicken in flour, roll in egg whites then coat with panko.
- Fry the breaded chicken in batches of 10 to 15 (depending on how wide your frying pan is) until golden and crisp. Scoop out and drain on a rack.
- Pile half of the mixed salad in a bowl. Scatter popcorn chicken over it. Cover with the rest of the salad and top with more popcorn chicken. Drizzle Ranch dressing over everything.
- Serve your popcorn chicken salad with spicy ranch dressing immediately.