Lunch and Jewels: Buttermilk Fried Chicken Salad w/ Bibb Lettuce, Winter Citrus & Honey-Tarragon Dressing



Mish Tworkowski is an incredible jewelry designer and a wonderful friend. Whenever we get together, we have a blast, plain and simple. Not only is he fun to hang out with, he is also incredibly generous. He donated an absolutely gorgeous pair of earrings for a fundraiser I chaired last weekend for our local historic house museum and garden, Casa del Herrero, and, lucky for me, I got to spend some time with him when he came out from New York for the party as well!


To show our appreciation for Mish and all that he does for us in Santa Barbara, some friends and I hosted a sit-down lunch and jewelry trunk show the day before the fundraiser. I did the flowers and planning, and Chef Nirasha Holcomb did the outstanding food.


The highlight of our menu was a salad with fried chicken. Honestly, this recipe is SOOO good and a total crowd pleaser. I even surprised my family the other night and made it myself for dinner. Normally, fried chicken is not my thing; there’s so much oil, it’s messy to prepare, and honestly, if given the opportunity I will eat way too much of it. Though this recipe does call for quite a bit of oil, for some reason it’s more approachable than traditional fried chicken recipes. It was surprisingly easy to pull off, and the results were delicious. My family loved it so much that we are contemplating doing the chicken (in between bottles of bubbly) for our New Year’s Eve dinner with friends—save the salad for 2011!

For the luncheon, we used chicken tenders so we could cut the chicken easily with a knife and fork (so as not to grease up Mish’s beautiful jewels with our fried-chicken hands), pairing them with a bib lettuce and winter citrus salad. The company was wonderful, the jewelry incredible (as always), and this recipe made the actual lunch part extra-extra tasty.

The menu for lunch started with Nirasha’s amazing carrot lemongrass soup, which can be found at my dear friend Hollye’s Blog.


All photos by Erin Feinblatt Photography.

Lunch and Jewels: Buttermilk Fried Chicken Salad w/ Bibb Lettuce, Winter Citrus & Honey-Tarragon Dressing

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Salad w/ Bibb Lettuce, Winter Citrus & Honey-Tarragon Dressing

By Nirasha Holcomb

Yield: 4 servings


Fried Chicken Tenders:


1 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon hot paprika

1 bay leaf

1 quart buttermilk


1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders


Thoroughly mix all ingredients except the chicken. Add the chicken to the brine and soak for 2 hours, then remove, rinse, and pat dry with clean towels.


To Fry:

Peanut oil

1 1/2 cups panko

4 cups all-purpose flour, divided


Hot paprika

2 cups buttermilk

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg


Fill a medium-large deep pot with about 3 inches of oil. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Using three separate bowls, fill one with the panko and 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Fill another bowl with the rest of the flour, paprika, and a generous sprinkling of pepper. Fill the last bowl with the buttermilk, baking powder, and egg, and whisk together.


Coat each chicken tender in the flour seasoning mixture first, then the buttermilk mixture, and finally the flour-panko mixture. Shake off any excess. Fry the tenders for 5-7 minutes.


Cool on a drying rack and slice each tender into thirds.



2 heads bibb or butter leaf lettuce, smaller heart leaves only

1/4 cup pomegranate arils

1 pink grapefruit, segments only

1 orange or blood orange, segments only

1/2 cup kumquats, sliced into coins

1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, whole leaves



1/4 cup Dijon mustard (I prefer Maille)

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup Champagne vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste


Add Dijon, honey, and vinegar to a bowl and whisk. Incorporate the olive oil. Then add tarragon and salt and pepper to taste.


Honey Hot Paprika Pecans, Crumbled:


(This will make extra to munch on!)

2 cups pecan halves

1/3 cup honey

1 tablespoon good-quality hot paprika

1 tablespoon canola oil


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Toss all ingredients in a bowl and then spread on a half sheet tray. Toast for 7-10 minutes, then let cool.