WND – Cajun Chicken Salad

October 25, 2007

Firstly. Go Sox!

I live in Boston, I’m pretty sure I’m legally obligated to be excited that the Red Sox made it to the World Series (and won last night’s game 13-1).

Okay, moving on.

A remuda is a herd of horses. Did you know this? Why do I know this?

I ask because on and off since yesterday I’ve been playing a vocabulary game that has the added benefit of donating 10 grains of rice for every word you get right to the UN effort to end world hunger.

I looked it up, and apparently a remuda is specifically the herd of horses from which ranch hands choose the next day’s mounts. I’m boggled that this is a part of my vocabulary. I had no idea.

I’ve also discovered that I know an apparently unlimited number of words for medieval weaponry and peasantry. I would love to say that this is because I was a medieval history major and actually took a class on medieval warfare. But, I suspect it has more to do with how many fantasy novels I read than anything appropriately academic.

Anyway. Go play and contribute rice. 10 grains a word doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up over time and 37 million grains of rice were donated yesterday, and more than 200 million grains since the program started two and a half weeks ago.

Free Rice

The real question is how many grains of rice are there in a bowl of rice? If you contribute 3000 grains of rice, how many people are you feeding?

We debated this question at dinner last night. One party to the conversation suggested that the next time we were out for Chinese food we should count the number of grains of rice in the bowl. This suggestion elicited the following reactions: horror, secret agreement, and hysterical laughter. The suggestion got talked down from a bowl to a forkful, and then counting the number of forkfuls in a bowl of rice as you ate, which seems like a somewhat more discrete option. Anyone who’d actually like to try this needs to tell me what the answer is.

And now, on with Dinner.

Grilled Cajun Chicken Salad with Spicy Ranch Dressing
Crusty bread (& butter)

Grilled Cajun Chicken Salad with Spicy Ranch Dressing

2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder*
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.

* I never remember to buy onion powder and it never seems to adversely affect the recipe to leave it out.

Salad Dressing

3/4 cup buttermilk*
1/2 cup mayonnaise*
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1-1/2 tsp seasoning mixture

Whisk ingredients together until smooth. I usually make this a day or so ahead of time to let the flavors meld.***

* Buttermilk is one of those things that I pretty much always have in my fridge. This is partly because I use buttermilk fairly frequently in cooking, and partly because buttermilks lasts for a long time. I used the rest of the buttermilk I bought to make biscuits a couple of weeks ago which should give you an idea of how long it lasts.
** Or some mixture of mayonnaise, sour cream & plain yogurt depending on your feelings about the taste of mayonnaise.
*** The original recipe also called for chopped scallions and parsley. I use neither because I think the scallions make the dressing oddly chunky, and I just never have parsley on hand to use.


1 ½ lb chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)

– Split the chicken breasts in half lengthwise (i.e. butterfly them, but cut all the way through to make 2 pieces)
– Sprinkle with remaining seasoning mixture on both sides
– Marinate in 1 cup buttermilk overnight (or at least 3 hours)
– Grill until done. *
– Allow to rest for a few minutes, and then slice on the diagonal.* My stove top grill pan is one of my favorite pieces of kitchen equipment. Failing the availability of either a real grill or a grill pan, I imagine you could roast them in a 350 oven for 15 minutes or so.


Arrange lettuce (I usually use a mix of arugula and baby romaine or whatever’s available) on 4 plates. Making individual plates means that you can tailor them to the specific person being served – i.e. without eggs for those guests who find eggs disconcerting, or without nuts for those guests who are allergic.
Add some or all of the following:
– Whatever salad fixings inspire you – hard boiled eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc.
– Chopped seasonal fruit – apples, pears, peaches, mango, etc.
– Dried fruit of your choice – raisins, cherries, blueberries, cranberries
– Nuts (candied or not)
– Add sliced chicken.
– Serve dressing at table.

Candied Nuts

– Place equal amounts of water and sugar in a pan – I usually use 1/3 – 1/2 cup of each depending on how many people I’m serving.
– Heat until the sugar dissolves, and then bring to a boil and simmer until the mixture begins to caramelize (this will do nothing for a while and then all of a sudden it will turn into caramel, so keep an eye on it).
– Add ¼ tsp cinnamon and a handful or two of nuts (I usually use pecans, but walnuts are fine too) and toss/stir to coat.
– Turn out onto a greased sheet of tin foil or parchment paper
– While they are still hot use fingers and/or spoons to separate the nuts.



  1. The real question is how many grains of rice are there in a bowl of rice? If you contribute 3000 grains of rice, how many people are you feeding?

    Having just played and contributed 1000 grains, I did go to calculate. It all depends on what kind of rice you are using. I figured that about 1/3 cup makes a medium-size bowl full of rice. It took me 12 teaspoons to fill 1/3 cup. I counted the grains in 1 teaspoon. Using basmati rice that 1/3 cup is about 3,900 grains; using whole grain 1/3 cup is about 2,400 grains. So let’s split that and make the serving 3,100 grains. I did not even feed one person. But your 3,000 grains did.
    BTW, thanks. The vocabulary game is fun and worthwhile at the same time. Now back to finish feeding one person today.

  2. You win at awesome. Did Dad ask at all what you were doing? Or why?

    I contemplated testing it at lunch today. My coworkers already think I’m weird, this was unlikely to tip me over the edge.

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