Weeknight Cooking: Chicken and Bulgur Salad with Corn

I loved this.

A few times now I’ve passed by this dish and, though it tempted me, I was a little skeptical of the bulgur. I had no idea what it was. Wheat, I thought, sounded a little strange for a salad base. This weekend, I got over it.

Chicken and Bulgur Salad with Corn

Happily, the bulgur wasn’t that expensive. I got about a half cup for around $0.50 from the organic section at my grocery store. They had it stored in the bulk aisle so I didn’t have to buy a big package — another plus.

Bulgur, as I found out from a quick internet search, is a type of wheat, more specifically a cereal grain made from several types of wheat. I wasn’t surprised about the cereal thing because when you add hot water to soak the bulgur, it smells sweet, just like a cereal would.

Chicken and Bulgur Salad with Corn
Courtesy of Food & Wine

2/3 cup bulgur
2/3 cup boiling water
4 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups fresh (cut from about 6 ears) or frozen corn kernels
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 small red onion, chopped
1 1/3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 4)
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
4 tablespoons lime juice (from about 2 limes)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

So straight out, the first thing to do is get some boiling water on the bulgur and cover it. The wheat will soak up the water, just like rice. The ratio should be equal water to wheat. When it’s soft, it will smell sweet.

Before:
Soaking Bulgur

After:
Soaked Bulgur

In a large nonstick frying pan, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil over moderate heat. Add the corn and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the onion and continue cooking for 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large glass or stainless-steel bowl and let cool.

Corn & Onion

Rather than use corn on the cob, I used frozen. Frozen vegetables still contain all of the essential nutrients and taste good. I use a mixture of baby yellow and white corn from Bird’s Eye that’s particularly sweet, something that went really well with the lime and jalapeño.

Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the frying pan and heat over moderate heat. Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and the black pepper. Cook the breasts until browned and just done, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and let it rest for 5 minutes. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.

I didn’t get shots of the chicken while it was frying in the pan. One of my chicken breasts ended up being too thick, so after slicing I put the thickest parts of the chicken back in the pan for a few seconds on each side. That’s why, in the first photo, the chicken looks a little brown.

Add the bulgur, tomato, jalapeño, cilantro, 3 tablespoons of the lime juice, the cayenne, and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt to the bowl with the corn and onion. Toss.

I didn’t get a lot of photos of this, either, and that’s because after I assembled the salad, the AwK admin was monopolizing the bowl (i.e. he wouldn’t stop eating it and I couldn’t get a clear shot). But whatever — that’s a testament to the salad’s tastiness!

In a small glass or stainless-steel bowl, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Mound the salad onto plates. Top with the chicken and drizzle the chicken with the lime oil.

I didn’t make oil and drizzle anything. We liked the chicken simply seasoned with the salt, pepper and the olive oil it cooked in, so we left it plain.

Chicken with Bulgur and Corn Salad

I really, really enjoyed this dish and I’m particularly happy that I tried a new ingredient and liked it. The dish is fast, tasty, and I’m happy that I found a new side dish — I’m looking forward to taking this to our next BBQ that involves some vegetarian friends. Mrs. Citizen Chef would probably also love this, because allegedly she likes putting corn into everything.

Overall cooking… it’s not a 4-star dish, but I’d be proud to serve this to guests given the right setting: Outdoors, warm evening, simple dessert to follow, swatting away mosquitoes…

Do I know how to throw a good time or what?

Weeknight Cooking: A
Overall Dish: A-

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