Brunoise, chiffonade, mince, rough chop, large dice, thin slices, and grated — these are just a few of the many ways foods can be cut before they are added to recipes. And the entire vibe of a dish can depend on how the ingredients are cut. The size and shape of each ingredient can be as important as the cooking technique.
You might think that it wouldn’t really make a difference if you “roughly chop” versus “finely dice” the carrots you’re adding to a soup. Wrong. In addition to having two very different mouth feels, one creates a rustic, casual vibe, while the other a much more refined and elegant one. Each one suits a different mood and craving
Now, does it really matter? Well that all depends on what you’re going for, and frankly if the experience of a dish is important to you. When I made this salad, I was craving very diverse flavors, but ones that even with their differing textures, would all have a relatively similar mouth feel. I wanted each bite to be smooth, comforting, soft, and able to easily absorb the delicious dressing. And what a bite it was!(In a way — and perhaps in my own quirky way — this idea can be compared to eating a bite of ice cream directly out of the carton, where you can curve your spoon around the inside edges of the cardboard container, versus using a small spoon from a small china bowl. Each one will be a different experience.)
- 4 strips of bacon
- 1 (approximately ½-pound) boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 2 heads Romaine, washed, dried and chopped into shreds
- 3 Persian cucumbers, washed, dried and grated (squeeze out excess liquid with your hands after it's grated)
- 1½ cups super thinly sliced tomato, washed, dried and seeds removed
- 3 hard boiled eggs, yolks removed and super thinly sliced
- ¾ cup shredded white cheddar cheese (I used Kerrygold's Aged Cheddar)
- ½ cup grated or super thinly sliced onion
- ¾ cup loosely packed basil leaves, washed, dried and cut into a chiffonade (roll up leaves and slice super thinly)
- 1 cup super thinly sliced avocado (about 1 medium-sized avocado)
- ⅓ cup fresh orange juice (I used Cara Cara's)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
- 1½ teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Line a large plate with a double layer of paper towels. Set aside.
- Add the bacon to a medium-sized sauté pan and cook until it's crispy. When it's done, place the strips on the paper towel-lined plate to drain, and set aside. Do not clean the pan!
- Remove any excess fat from the chicken breast and preheat the pan you cooked the bacon in. Use a meat mallet over a piece of plastic wrap to pound the thicker end of the chicken breast so that it becomes even in size. Then season both sides with salt and pepper and add it to the hot pan. Sauté just until it's cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Set aside to cool.
- In a large salad bowl, combine the Romaine with the cucumber, tomato, egg, cheese, onion, basil and avocado.
- Now add the bacon to the bowl, crumbling it into tiny pieces as you go. Then add the chicken, using your hands to shred it into thin, bite-sized pieces as you go.
- In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, mustard and garlic. Once it's blended, gradually whisk in the oil. Season generously to taste with salt and pepper. (Here's How to Season to Taste.)
- Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and gently toss until all of the ingredients are evenly mixed, and well coated with the dressing.
- Serve immediately.