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MeMe's Diner Buffalo Chicken Salad
Issue 62: An order of wings, but make it a salad.
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No matter where you live, a favorite restaurant or bar (or both) of yours probably closed over the course of the last few years. A lot of places closed in New York, but there are few places that I miss more than MeMe’s Diner in Brooklyn. It was billed as a “good food diner” but it was more than that. The menu was largely modern twists on diner classics, and the food was approachable and craveable which made it the perfect place for a friend hang or casual weeknight dinner.
But it was also special and interesting enough to take out of town friends or for special occasions. They had their menu standards, but they’d often have periodic themed menus where they’d add a new wave of interesting dishes to try (Après Ski, California — you get the idea). AND they always had a daily cake that was quirky and fun.
I went to MeMe’s a fair amount, but never made it for brunch. I always went for dinner and made sure to bring a friend who was interested in sharing meals because the move was almost always the same: the Buffalo Chicken Salad, the Patty Melt, and a slice of their daily cake.
Siting in Meme’s, the smell of the Buffalo Chicken Salad hits you before you see it — the deep satisfaction of freshly tossed wings making itself known. This dish has all the critical ingredients of a plate of wings, but disguised as a salad. Carrots and celery are tossed with romaine lettuce and a green goddess dressing, then topped with a buffalo-drenched chicken cutlet and blue cheese. It’s crunchy, spicy, cooling, salty, and immensely pleasurable to eat. It’s the perfect pretend-healthy salad and I think about it a lot.
This is a fairly simple recipe , and it will never taste as good as the original — you’re not eating it *at* Meme’s after all. But it sure will come close.
Meme's Buffalo Chicken Salad
For the chicken
2 large chicken breasts, butterflied, then pounded flatter if needed
1.5 cups flour
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups panko breadcrumbs
Bottle of buffalo wing sauce
For the Salad
2 large heads of romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 large carrots, outer later peeled, then peeled into ribbons
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Crumbled blue cheese, about 6 ounces.
1 bottle of Green Goddess dressing. I like Gotham Greens, but your favorite will work
To prepare your dredging station, grab 3 shallow bowls, one each for flour, eggs, panko. Season the panko bowl with salt and pepper.
Working one-by-one, place each piece of chicken in flour and make sure it’s fully covered, then place in the egg, then cover in panko. Set aside and work through all the pieces.
Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add enough cooking oil to cover the bottom of the pan, then add two chicken pieces. Cook until a deep golden brown then flip, about 3-4 minutes each side. Remove finished cutlets and set on a plate lined with a paper towel, and cook remaining cutlets. Brush the cooked cutlets with a heavy dose of buffalo sauce and a sprinkle of salt.
Toss together lettuce, celery, carrots, scallions, (almost all of) blue cheese with green goddess dressing. Divide the salad between 4 bowls, place a cutlet on each, and top with a drizzle of buffalo sauce and remaining blue cheese.