The more I travel, the more I'm starting to believe that your tastebuds adjust to the local cuisine. You see, when I was down in St Martin a few weeks back, I was downing hot sauce like it was water. Sure, I like stuff spicy but I'm more of a Cholulua or Valentina girl – usually those Caribbean chiles are too much for me. As a general rule, the minute scotch bonnet chiles are involved, I tap out.
But back to St Martin: I had a serious lunch at a lolo (aka a local-style open-air grill) that had amazing spicy grilled chicken. And, as I ate, I kept adding the heat with this Matouk's Calypso sauce – a sweet-spicy hot sauce that has edged Sriracha out in my hot sauce hierarchy. The only problem with that meal? It was so heavy that I spent the rest of the afternoon in a daze. This recipe brings the heat with this chicken marinade (nix the hot sauce if it's not your thing) but lightens it up with a tropical salad because, in my book, you should be able to eat your lunch and then hang in the beach without worrying about a food baby or a food coma.
ideally something sweet-hot like Matouk's Calypso sauce
peeled and grated
sliced paper thin
peeled and small dice
For the chicken, Combine the hot sauce, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, 1/4 cup of the lime juice, 2 tablespoon of the honey, and ginger and whisk until smooth. Add a pinch of kosher salt and a few cranks of black pepper then taste. If you want it hotter, add more hot sauce. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Place in an airtight container and marinate anywhere from 1 hour to 8 hours.
If the chicken breast is really thick on one side you may want to either remove the tender from the chicken breast or gently pound the thick end until it's all an even thickeness. Also, if you don't have time to grill the chicken, you can skip this step and use a rotisserie chicken and shred the meat instead.
For the dressing, combine the sour cream, orange juice, 1 tablespoon of the honey, remaining lime juice, balsamic vinegar, and 1/2 cup of the olive oil in a blender. Add a pinch of kosher salt and a few cranks of black pepper and process for about 30 seconds and refrigerate until ready to use.
The dressing can be made up to 2 days ahead – store refrigerated in an airtight container.
Heat a gas or charcoal grill to high (about 400°F) and rub the grill with a towel dipped in vegetable oil. Remove the chicken from the marinade and let any excess marinade drip off and set marinade aside. Place the chicken on the grill and cook uncovered, turning rarely, about 10 minutes. Then baste the chicken with the remaining honey marinade every few minutes and continue cooking until the chicken is charred and the juices are running clear, about 10 to 15 minutes more. Remove chicken from heat and let rest a few minutes while you put the salad together.
If you want to reduce the sharpness of the onions, go ahead and soak them in ice water while the chicken cooks then drain just before using.
To assemble, layer the greens, onion, mango, almonds, sunflower seeds, and feta in a serving bowl. Thinly slice the chicken and arrange it across the salad. Serve with dressing passed on the side.
Food styling and photography by Aida Mollenkamp
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