Santa Fe Chicken Salad


by Todd Wilbur




     Menu Description: "Grilled chipotle chicken breast with guacamole and sour cream on a bed of greens tossed with two cheeses, pico de gallo, tortilla strips and our Mexi-ranch dressing."


      Clone some red pepper marinade that will make the chicken breasts taste like Applebee's chipotle chicken, then mix up a clone of the Mexi-ranch dressing and some fresh pico de gallo and you're on your way to salad heaven. By the way, if you don't have buttermilk for the dressing and don't want to buy a whole carton just to use a tablespoon, simply substitute regular milk. Find ground chipotle pepper such as the stuff made by McCormick. If you can't track it down, substitute cayenne pepper. Just be sure to half the amount, since cayenne is hotter than chipotle.



2 cups water

1/3 cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar

1 tablespoon ground chipotle pepper

     (or 1 1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper)

2 teaspoons hickory smoke flavoring

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon ground black pepper


4 chicken breast fillets


Mexi-ranch Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons minced onion

2 tablespoons diced tomato

1 tablespoon buttermilk

1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar

2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon canned green chile pepper

3/4 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

pinch dried dill weed

pinch cumin

pinch cayenne pepper


Pico de Gallo

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1/3 cup diced red onion

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

2 teaspoons lime juice

2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


8 cups chopped iceberg lettuce

8 cups chopped romaine lettuce

1 cup chopped red cabbage

1 cup fancy shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup fancy shredded monterey jack cheese

handful tortilla strips or chips

1/ 2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup guacamole    


1. You want to marinate the chicken for 2 hours in advance, so make the marinade first by combing all the ingredients for the marinade in a medium bowl. Stir well until the sugar has dissolved. Drop the chicken breasts into the marinade, then cover and chill for 2 hours. You don't want to marinate for much more than 2 hours or the chicken could get tough.

2. While the chicken marinates, make the Mexi-ranch dressing by combining the ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and chill so the the flavors will develop as the chicken marinates.

3. You'll also make the pico de gallo in advance so that it can rest a bit in the fridge. Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl, then cover and chill this as well.

4. When the chicken has marinated for 2 hours, fire up the grill to medium/high heat. Grill the chicken breasts for 4 to 7 minutes per side or until chicken is done. Take the chicken off the grill then let it rest for a bit while you prepare the salads.

5. Build each salad in a large bowl by first tossing 2 cups chopped iceberg lettuce and 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce with 1/4 cup chopped red cabbage.

6. Combine the shredded cheeses then add, about 1/2 a cup to each salad on the lettuce. Sprinkle a handful of tortilla strips or crumbled chips on next.

7. Slice each chicken breast into strips and arrange each one on each of the salads. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of pico de gallo over the top.

8. Finish off each salad  by adding a 2-tablespoon scoop of sour cream on one side of each salad, then a 2-tablespoon scoop of guacamole on the other side of the salad. (


Serves 4.