I recently overheard my local butcher telling another customer that they had applewood smoked hams for Easter. My thoughts ran to the unbelievably delicious applewood smoked bacon that Zingerman's sells in their famous Ann Arbor deli. Could it be the same bacon I remembered so well? I hopefully asked my butcher and he proudly informed me that they smoke their own hams and bacon with applewood, gesturing somewhere behind him, presumably to the smoker. Turns out, that local bacon was almost as good as my memory of the Zingerman's bacon (and that is a high compliment, to be sure).
For the chicken, it might be simpler to poach or bake the chicken breasts, especially if you have a charcoal barbecue. However, juicy, grilled chicken adds another taste to this uber-salad that you won't want to miss. Keep in mind, grilling an extra couple of chicken breasts the next time you are barbecuing is an easy way to have the chicken ready for dinner the following day.
Grilled Chicken & Applewood Smoked Bacon Salad
2 chicken breasts, on the bone with skin
6 slices applewood smoked bacon
8 cups salad greens (a combination of green & red leaf, romaine, or bibb lettuce)
1 bunch watercress
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
3 tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 ripe avocado, sliced
1 cup feta cheese
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Heat the barbecue. Generously sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Slowly cook the chicken over indirect heat to avoid burning. When the chicken is cooked through, remove from the grill and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the bone and skin; discard. Slice the breast meat into bite-sized pieces.
Cook the bacon until crisp (a 375 degree oven cooks bacon evenly and without all the greasy spatters).
Wash and dry the lettuces and watercress and place on a large platter. Artfully arrange the chicken, bacon, tomatoes, and avocado on the lettuces. Crumble the feta cheese over everything.
For the vinaigrette, whisk the lemon juice, mustard and garlic together. Slowly pour the olive oil into the lemon juice mixture until incorporated. Add the salt and pepper. Check for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.
Just before serving, drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and gently toss.