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Chicken Club Salad

This salad combines all the tastes of the classic club sandwich right down to the croutons standing in for the toast. The bacon, mayo, chicken and croutons can be made ahead. Shred the lettuce and assemble the salad a few hours before serving.

18 slices smoky-flavored, thick-sliced bacon
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
12 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
12 cups shredded, cooked chicken (about 3 pounds)
8 large plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped into 1/2-inch dice
4 cups croutons
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Red leaf lettuce leaves

In a large skillet, cook bacon in several batches over medium heat, turning until crisp, about 7 to 9 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels. When cool enough to handle, crumble or chop coarsely. Pieces should remain large enough to give a good crunch and hit of flavor to the bite.

In a large bowl, whisk mayonnaise and lemon juice until well blended. Add lettuce, chicken, tomatoes, croutons and bacon. Toss until well blended. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Divide among lettuce-lined plates and serve at cool room temperature. Serves 12.

Herbed croutons

You can buy bags of croutons, but homemade ones taste better. For superior croutons, start with a whole loaf of day-old Mancini's Italian bread, remove the crusts and make 3/4-inch slices. Then cut the slices into 3/4-inch dice.

2 cups bread cubes, 3/4-inch squares
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper

Put the bread cubes into a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the oil, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper and mix well. Pour this mixture over the bread cubes and toss well to coat the cubes. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake in a 350-degree oven until crunchy on the outside but a little chewy on the inside, 10 to 12 minutes. Make double the recipe for the salad above. Makes 2 cups.

"365 Main-Course Salads"

Thursday, June 03, 1999

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