Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Romaine, Gala Apple, Chicken and Pecans with Persimmon Vinaigrette

     A Nice Café Style Salad For The Autumn Season!  
     The ingredients in today's salad recipe go well together.  In recent years Balsamic Vinaigrette and Raspberry Vinaigrette have been overused at restaurants.  These two vinaigrette flavors are nearly thoroughly worn out altogether.  This is especially true at restaurants that market pre-made salad dressing products that contain all sorts of modifiers and chemicals.  The further that a vinaigrette dressing strays from being natural, the more the flavor balance is affected.  Manufactured vinaigrette products lack the luster of a fresh vinaigrette and this contributes to why items like Raspberry Vinaigrette burnout in popularity.
     Why just feature Raspberry Vinaigrette or Balsamic Vinaigrette as premium salad dressings when there is a whole world of great vinaigrette flavors that can be made?   Great garde manger chefs create a vinaigrette recipes for specific salad themes.  At fine dining restaurants and trendy cafés, it is not like a waiter sets a salad on a customer's table and then offers a long list of salad dressings to choose from.  Fine dining salads are designed with a theme and every component in the recipe contributes to that theme, including the style of salad dressing.
      Today's salad recipe theme embodies old fashioned heartland Appalachian flavors.  Pecans and Persimmons are grown throughout the mid to south Appalachian Mountain Range region.  Chicken and apples are main staples in Appalachia too.  Since persimmons need to be cooked, they are best suited for making a unique vinaigrette for an Appalachian salad theme!
     The word "persimmon" comes from the Powhatan Algonquin Native American language.  There are many varieties of persimmons, but there are only a couple dozen varieties that are considered to be palatable.  Persimmon fruit is actually a berry.  Persimmon trees are famous for being the tree that ebony wood comes from.
     American Persimmon and Chinese Persimmon varieties are usually what is sold in common grocery stores.  Persimmon is a fall and winter season fruit.  Persimmon preserves or jam is not really a good choice for making a vinaigrette, when persimmons are out of season.
     Persimmon should be ripened, before cooking.  Persimmons at markets tend to be firm to the touch.  Ripe persimmons are easily damaged, so stores sell unripened persimmons.  The best way to ripen a persimmon is to place it in a refrigerator and forget about it for two weeks.  Cold air will ripen a persimmon faster than a room temperature environment.    
     Persimmon Vinaigrette:  
     This recipe yields enough vinaigrette for 2 to 3 single portion salads!
     Step 1:  Rapidly simmer 1 whole ripe persimmon in a sauce pot of water over medium heat, till it is very soft.
     Drain off the water and let the persimmon cool.
     Cut out the persimmon core and seed.
     Press the persimmon fruit through a fine mesh strainer to make a fine puree.
     Step 2:  Measure 1/4 cup of the persimmon puree and place it in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar.
     Add 2 1/2 ounces of vegetable oil.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Step 3:  Stir the ingredients together to create a simple loose puree vinaigrette.
     Set the persimmon vinaigrette aside or chill it till the dressing is needed.
     Romaine, Gala Apple, Chicken and Pecans with Persimmon Vinaigrette:  
     This recipe yields 1 salad entrée.  
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 3 ounces of chicken tenders or chicken breast strips.
     Season the chicken with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté till the chicken tenders are fully cooked and golden brown highlights appear.
     Step 2:  Place the chicken tenders on a cutting board and cut them into bite size pieces.
     Step 3:  Place the chicken pieces in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 cups of small chopped romaine lettuce hearts.
     Add 1 tablespoon of diced roasted pimiento.
     Add a little bit of thin julienne sliced sweet vidalia onion.
     Add 1/2 of a Gala Apple that is cut into thin wedges.
     Add just enough of the Persimmon vinaigrette to coat the ingredients with flavor.
     Toss the salad ingredients together.
     Step 4:  Place a few small romaine heart leaves on a plate, so they fan out from center and look like a starfish pattern.
     Mound the tossed salad on the center of the plate.
     Spoon a little bit more of the Persimmon Vinaigrette over the salad and on the plate.
     Sprinkle some chopped toasted pecans over the salad.
     The flavor of Persimmon Vinaigrette is fresh and light.  The Persimmon Vinaigrette compliments the flavor of this Appalachian theme salad! 

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