Chicken Noodle Salad

This salad could be made with leftover chicken, or, given the time of year, even leftover turkey. I try not to have too much to do with turkeys - we've always had a strained relationship. It's some years since I cooked a Christmas turkey and on that occasion the bird was still in a garage in Widnes on Christmas morning and nobody could quite remember which garage.

This recipe will serve 2 people.

A few chicken thighs with skin on and bone in; 4 maybe, but as many as you feel like eating
2 portions of medium egg noodles (around 125 g altogether, uncooked)
A good handful of green beans
6 smallish or 4 large spring onions

For cooking the chicken:
     1 scant tsp 5-spice powder
     3 tbsp dark soy sauce
     1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
     2 tsp sesame oil

For the dressing:
     2 tbsp dark soy sauce
     2 tbsp light soy sauce
     1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
     2 tsp sesame oil
     1 tbsp sherry vinegar
     2 heaped tsp soft, brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 170°C (for a fan oven, a little hotter, otherwise). Place the chicken thighs in a roasting tin, sprinkle them with the 5-spice powder and pour over the dark soy, the balsamic vinegar and the sesame oil. Cover the tin with foil and roast in the oven for 45 minutes.

When the time is up, remove the foil and continue roasting uncovered for another 15 minutes. After this time, the chicken should be very tender without being too dry. As soon as it has cooled enough to handle, remove the skin (we’re trying to be a bit healthy here) and turn the chicken in the juices left in the roasting tin. Leave to cool completely.

Top and tail the green beans and steam for 5 minutes or so. They should retain a little bite, but not too much. Leave to cool. Chop the spring onions very finely.

Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions. They shouldn’t be allowed to remain too al dente or you’ll lose out on some of the silky texture of the salad. Once cooked, refresh the noodles in cold water and leave to drain.

Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients thoroughly. I find that pouring them into an old jam jar and shaking vigorously is easiest. (This is quite a lot of dressing for two people but I like lots.)

Tear the cooled chicken flesh into bite-sized pieces – it should certainly be tender enough to come apart easily. Cut the cooled beans into lengths of random size. Place the chicken and beans in a large bowl, add the noodles and spring onions, pour over the dressing and toss well to combine everything thoroughly. This salad can sit around for a short while without coming to harm, but don’t leave it for more than about 15 – 20 minutes.

This basic recipe can be varied in many ways. For instance, substituting mangetout or sugar snaps for the beans or adding some sweet chilli sauce to the dressing.

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