With the excitement of the World Cup going on last week, I was thinking a lot about “game day” foods, and how so many of them are often incredibly greasy and unhealthy. Especially buffalo wings, at least how they’re traditionally cooked. Now, I’ve never been a huge chicken wing fan, but I do happen to like buffalo sauce a lot. So I started thinking about what kinds of food could be converted into something Paleo-friendly, should my soon-to-be-hubby ever decide to become a huge sports fanatic and have a bunch of friends over on game days (not likely, but you never know). Because, hello, the cook should never have to starve! I thought to myself, If I would ever bother to make such a grand effort, then why NOT make something that I can eat, too?? And that’s how this recipe came into existence.
I knew I wanted to make buffalo chicken, but I didn’t want huge chunks, or strips… And then I recalled a little trick I learned a few years ago after getting my Kitchenaid stand mixer… you can shred chicken with it! So I boiled up some whole chicken breasts, and threw them still slightly warm into the bowl of the mixer. I turned it on low speed for about a minute, and voila! I had exactly what I needed.
Just add some minced celery, a little homemade Paleo buffalo sauce, give it a good stir, and you’ve got yourself a pretty darned healthy (comparatively speaking) bowl of buffalo chicken! Now spoon some onto your lettuce cups and… speaking of which…
I used butter lettuce for the lettuce cups because it has a nice rounded shape where the lettuce attaches to the stem. It makes them very “cuppable”. You could also use iceberg, which is even more cup-like… but I’m not an iceberg fan. There’s just not enough color (read: nutrients) in it. This would also probably work really well on romaine hearts, which are much sturdier than butter lettuce, but then I suppose you’re technically having lettuce tacos, as opposed to cups. And I wanted cups, dangit! That’s just the kinda fancy girl that I am. :P*
Now, on to the finishing touches! Since I was aiming to sort of “deconstruct” a plate of buffalo wings, I needed something cool and creamy to mimic the blue cheese or ranch that is typically served on the side. I don’t like stinky blue cheese, and I didn’t have any Paleo ranch dressing handy, so I opted for goat cheese crumbles instead! And let me tell you – the soft, tangy creaminess was DIVINE on top of these lettuce cups! Obviously the dairy-free folks will want to nix the goat cheese, but if you can tolerate it, do NOT leave it off! It’s just that good.
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Water (enough to cover the chicken when boiling)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small celery stalk (about ½ cup once minced)
- Several leaves of butter lettuce (or iceberg)
- ¾ cup homemade Paleo buffalo sauce
- Crumbled goat cheese (optional)
- Place chicken breasts in bottom of a small pot in a single layer. Cover chicken with water, sprinkle with the sea salt, and add the bay leaf.
- Bring to a boil, then quickly reduce heat to low so that the water is only slightly simmering. Partly cover and lightly simmer for 10 minutes.
- Turn off heat completely, cover pot, and let the chicken sit in hot water for 15 minutes.
- While the chicken is cooking, prepare your celery and lettuce cups. Give both a good rinse! Use a salad spinner or paper towels to help dry the lettuce cups. You may need more than one piece of lettuce to make a lettuce cup, especially if the lettuce is torn at all. Mince the celery (or you can slice it into small chunks, however you prefer it).
- When chicken is done, remove it from pot and shake off any excess moisture. While the chicken is still warm, put it into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater attachment. Turn the mixer on to 2-speed for about 30 seconds to a minute to shred the chicken. (Alternatively, shred the chicken by hand in bowl using two forks.)
- Warm up the buffalo sauce, and then add to the bowl of shredded chicken. Stir in the celery, and mix everything together thoroughly.
- Scoop two heaping spoonfuls of the chicken mixture into each of the lettuce cups (2 per person). Top each lettuce cup with a generous sprinkling of crumbled goat cheese (optional).
- Store leftover chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up 3 days.
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