Tarragon Salad with Southern Fried Chicken

Attention Chicago friends, you have a new resource for all things cookbookery at 2142 N. Halsted St in Lincoln Park.   If you are as recipe obsessed as I am, set aside some time to browse through some 4000 cookbooks, neatly organized by theme at Read It And Eat, a charming bookshop that also has a beautiful demonstration kitchen and large dining table for visiting cookbook authors and, I assume, events and tastings.

After an absurd amount of time perusing the options, I finally settled upon Salmagundi, by Sally Butcher.  It’s a beautifully photographed book with the subtitle “A Celebration of Salads From around the World” and in it I saw promises of lots of new flavors for our summertime salads.

Once back home in North Carolina, it was a task to choose one of the 15o recipes to sample first. The “Bavarian-Style Kartoffelsalat” (potato salad) caught my eye as did the “Red Rice Salad with Sushi and Wasabi Dressing.

But then I saw the “Tarragon Salad with Southern Fried Chicken” and it was clear; what better way to test this author and her comprehensive tome of salad recipes than to see how she is representing my own neck of the woods?

And it was a winner… a keeper… a fried chicken salad that is most definitely a notch above.

I show it above in a slightly deconstructed format as I like to serve salads with lots of ingredients this way so that each person can compose their own plate to their liking. But the magic you’ll find here is in the buttermilk brined/cornmeal crusted chicken breast, super tender and perfectly seasoned, and the light vinegar based buttermilk dressing flavored with fresh tarragon.

The textures and flavors in this salad will please adults and kids alike, making it the perfect lunch or supper for summertime entertaining.

I’m very much looking forward to my next experiment from Salmagundi and don’t forget to visit Read It And Eat next time you are in Chicago!

Tarragon Salad with Southern Fried Chicken

Serves 4-5
By author margaret @ The Right Recipe


for the chicken

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • oil for pan-frying (vegetable or peanut)

for the salad

  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh tarragon (leaves chopped)
  • 1 bunch lettuce (romaine or bibb)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 Small red onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 4 slices bacon (cut into 1/2 inch pieces and cooked until crispy)
  • 2 ears fresh corn, cooked and sliced from the cob (see note above)


Recipe slightly adapted from Salmagundi, by Sally Butcher.

Chicken can be coated with corneal crust, covered and refrigerated for up to one day in advance.

Buttermilk dressing can be made on day in advance.

The best and easiest way to prepare corn on the cob: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place whole un-husked cobs directly on the oven rack and bake for about 12 minutes. Let cool a bit then remove the husks. the silks will come off with the husks. This is a great method whether you need two cobs of corn or 20. (You will need to increase cooking time a bit if you fill up the entire oven with corn but it still works brilliantly!)


for the chicken
1. Trim the chicken and cut each breast into 3-4 pieces lengthwise, then cut each piece in half crosswise. Whisk the vinegar, buttermilk, garlic and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the chicken to the bowl and toss to coat evenly with the buttermilk mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 4 hours. If you are in a hurry, cover and leave a room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. In a shallow dish, mix the corn meal with the chile pepper and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Coat each piece of chicken with the cornmeal on every side, patting gently to adhere, and set upon a baking sheet or plate in a single layer.
3. Heat a non-stick skillet with about 1/3 inch of vegetable oil over high heat. Pan-fry the chicken in batches, waiting until one side is dark golden brown before turning, until chicken is crispy and brown and cooked through. This will only take 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to a wire rack when done.
for the salad dressing
4. Whisk together the buttermilk, olive oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, fresh tarragon and salt and pepper. Set aside.
for the salad
5. Layer the lettuce with the onion, tomatoes, corn and bacon. Add the chicken (cut into pieces if you like).
6. Toss and serve with the buttermilk dressing.




  1. says

    Ohhh.. Wow.. 4000++ cookbooks to read through… What an amazing place. How I wish I am in Chicago, It’s like heaven .. Thank you so much for telling us about the place Read It and Eat. Put it in my notes, and it will be my first destination if I get the chance to go to Chicago. And, the salad is beautiful and yumm…

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