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Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

Bravocado! Best salad ever?

Did you know that botanically speaking, avocados are actually big berries?

I didn’t know that either, not until the internet pointed it out last week when I was looking for something else. It has a funny way of doing things like that, the internet I mean. Last week I went looking for entertainment but all I came away with was a distinct sense unease about how much of a mess the world is in.

This is exemplified of course by the rioting in American cities; bad times, I think you’ll agree.

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In the mean time though, until the whole world goes full-dystopian, the least we can do is hang on to our own fraying mental health in whatever way we can. For my part, I’m going to continue cooking and eating things like chicken and avocado salad, a la pictures.

To give you an idea of how much I’m enjoying my cooking during the long sunny days of lockdown, when there’s leftovers and I don’t have to cook, I am consumed by disappointment.

Under normal circumstances I’d rock up to the house after work and go, “Wah-hey! Leftovers!”

Now it’s more a case of moving to another part of the house after work and going, “Left-overs? F… oh well.”

The weather has been kind this past while too, hasn’t it. I couldn’t tell you exactly but I reckon at our house we’re into double figures in barbecues.

Which reminds me, I’ve a brilliant marinade recipe I’ll feature in the coming weeks for chicken.

You may be surprised to learn that the main ingredient is marmalade but fear not, it’s one of the best I’ve ever had.

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I’d have included it before now, except I was on mojitos last time we had it and forgot to take pictures – hic!

Avocados though, is there nothing these big berries can’t do? Mashed onto toast in the morning for a nutritious breakfast, as a mayo substitute for a tuna melt or mashed once again for that king of dips, guacamole – the humble avocado is an ever present in our kitchen.

Perhaps the only downside with them is that they have to be PERFECTLY ripe before using. Too ripe and they’re black and fusty and too un-ripe and they’re solid. I find keeping an eye on them is the best plan, stalling your avocado consumption until the right moment.

And when that moment comes, you could do a whole lot worse than this mighty salad bound together with a spiky lime dressing.

You could conceivably use this as a side salad but I think it’s great enough to work as a main on its own.

INGREDIENTS (FEEDS TWO)
1 chicken breast
tsp of olive oil
smoked paprika
2 slices of bacon, crisped and chopped
1 avocado
2 spring onions, chopped
handful of sweetcorn
2 eggs, boiled and quartered
handful of plain tortilla chips, lightly crushed

LIME DRESSING
juice of one lime
3 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp of honey
salt and freshly ground black pepper

THE PLAN
Start by getting the chicken on the go. Pre-heat the oven to 190C and while that’s happening, place the fillet in a roasting tin, add the teaspoon of olive oil and rub it around so that it’s all coated. Next sprinkle the smoked paprika until the top of the fillet is covered.

Give it a touch of seasoning and bang in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes depending on size.

As the chicken is roasting, wash and chop the rest of the vegetables etc and crisp up the bacon. I usually give the bacon 15 minutes in the oven with the chicken, turning once.

To make the dressing, squeeze the lime juice to a small bowl and add the olive oil.

Whisk until emulsified and then add the honey and seasoning and whisk again.

To get the balance and seasoning just right, keep tasting and seasoning and tasting some more until you’re happy. Depending on the size of the lime it may need another teaspoon of olive oil to calm down the citrus.

When the chicken is ready, remove from the oven and allow to rest for ten minutes.

If you take it out of the oven and start hacking it up, you’ll lose a lot of the tasty juices.

After ten minutes, slice up the chicken and then assemble all the elements of the salad in a bowl.

Add two-thirds of the dressing and mix through and combine, and then taste. It may not need all of the dressing, although it may need an extra touch of seasoning as un-seasoned avocado is infinitely bland.

After that, top with some crushed tortilla chips (these help with textural healing), divide between two plates and dive in without delay.

Don’t be concerned if, after eating your entire portion that you’re tempted to lick the plate. This is normal.

And fully recommended.

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