Chicken and Cherry Salad

Cherries are here!!  Danielle from Beet Happening had some gorgeous sweet cherries at the farmers' market last week - you just have to get there early enough to buy some. This salad, adapted from Bon Appetit's recent issue, is absolutely fabulous. The combination of spring radishes and early summer cherries captures the essence of June, this wonderful in-between time. And Vida Verde farm is growing the fantastic Little Gem lettuce this year, which looks like tiny Romaine, but has the texture of butterhead. This is great with leftover roast chicken, but for a vegetarian option I'd try pecans. I love the dressing, and I made a big bottle of it to use on other salads. 

The croutons are deliciously decadent - frying them in duck fat makes them ultra-crunchy. I had some left over from when I made duck confit and duck prosciutto with my friend Joey a few months ago. The original recipe called for frying them in chicken fat (did you know that's where the word schmaltz comes from? it means chicken fat, which was often used to add a little extra flavor to a dish.) Of course you could always fry them in olive oil, but however you do it, I guess croutons couldn't exactly be called health food.

1 pound sweet cherries
2 cooked chicken thighs
4 radishes, sliced
1/2 pound lettuce (preferably Little Gem or butterhead)
3 T. duck or chicken fat, butter or olive oil
1 cup cubed dry bread
3 T Sherry vinegar
3 T Dijon mustard
1 T honey
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 C. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Pit cherries by squeezing them over a bowl to catch the juice. Slice meat from chicken thighs, reserving any skin. Wash lettuce, dry thoroughly, and tear into bite-size pieces Arrange cherries, chicken and radishes over the lettuce on four plates. Melt fat in a skillet on medium heat, and toss the bread cubes to coat. Fry until browned on all sides, and season with salt while still hot. Whisk vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic and olive oil together and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle croutons over salad and drizzle with dressing. Serves 4.


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