Southwestern Smoked Chicken Salad

Southwestern Smoked Chicken Salad

Not your grandma’s chicken salad! A combination of smoked light and dark meat and southwestern-inspired ingredients give this salad depth of flavor. Serve as-is on a bed of shredded lettuce, wrap in a flour tortilla, or mound in pita bread. If you’re short on time, skip the brining step and add salt to taste to the dressing.

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Ingredients

  • 1 quart cold water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 4 large bone-in or boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 bone-in or boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 scallions, trimmed, white and green parts thinly sliced
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons minced pickled jalapeno peppers
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • Paprika, for serving

Preparation

Brine the chicken: In a large saucepan or mixing bowl, combine the water and salt and stir until the salt crystals dissolve. Add the chicken breasts and thighs. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. Drain, but do not dry the chicken: Smoke clings better to wet surfaces.

When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes).

Arrange the chicken on the grill grate and smoke for 30 minutes. Increase the temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to cook the chicken until the juices run clear and the internal temperature when read on an instant-read meat thermometer is 165 degrees F, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool.

Dice the chicken, discarding any skin, bones, or gobbets of fat. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the red and green bell peppers, the scallions, and pickled jalapenos. Stir gently to distribute the ingredients.

Make the dressing: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lime juice, cumin, black pepper, and garlic salt. Stir in the cilantro. Add the dressing to the chicken mixture and stir gently until well-combined. Transfer to a serving bowl. Dust with paprika. Serve immediately, or cover and chill for up to 3 days.