I find it sad that anyone that does not live within a 50 to 60 mile radius of Pittsburgh is aware that french fries on a chicken or steak salad is absolutely delicious. Since I grew up with this being a common and popular meal, I guess I take it for granted.
I’ve always known this was a local dish, but that has been confirmed for me, much to my disappointment, since I have been unable to get this anywhere while traveling. Requesting restaurants to add fries to my salad has been met with various responses. Everything from “Hmm. . that’s interesting.” to “Umm. . .no.” to “The cook won’t do that because it will wilt the lettuce.” to just staring at me like I’m plain batshit.
When I’ve been really desperate, I have actually resorted to ordering a steak dinner with fries and a house salad with a side of shredded cheese and making it into as close a resemblance of this meal as possible.
I do have to give a huge shout-out to Cheddar’s Casual Cafe for making me the best chicken salad I’ve ever had. They were awesome and went out of their way to make this dish to my specifications. It was amazing. They used chopped up breaded chicken tenders, added fries, and cheese in exactly the right order, and it had candied pecans on it. It was so big I could only manage eating a third of it. They should definitely make this a permanent fixture on their menu since they were so good at it.
Anyway, if you’ve never had a salad like this, you’ve got to give it a try. I promise a regular chicken salad will never suffice again.
You will need:
Greens of your choice. (I use artisan or red and green leaf lettuce.)
Chopped or cherry tomatoes
Sliced red onion
Sliced hard boiled egg
If you’re anywhere around Pittsburgh and order this salad, these are usually the toppings that will be on it. Feel free to add or omit the salad toppings of your choice.
Grilled chopped boneless-skinless chicken breast or grilled sliced steak
French fries fried or baked to your desired level of crispness
Shredded cheddar and/or mozzarella cheese
Dressings of your choice.
The chicken or steak:
Chicken and steak are usually grilled and then chopped into cubes. At home, I will cut the meat up first and marinate it ahead of time. I use different seasonings depending on what we are in the mood for. I’ve done Cajun, Italian, lemon-pepper. The possibilities are endless.
When it comes to the steak, I like it sliced very very thin and then marinated the day before. Honestly, we rarely make these with steak.
Sometimes, when you order these out, you’ll get steak-ums or chopped steak/hamburger patties. Oh my no. Don’t do that. It’s worth investing in a good steak.
There is a specific order for putting these together. Maybe I’m a little OCD because if this comes to me out of proper order, it drives me nuts. Also, show restraint when putting these together. They’re just like tacos. When you’re done you realize you’ve got wayyyy too much.
Start with your salad.
Add hot fries on top. (I promise your lettuce won’t wilt.)
Add hot cubed or sliced chicken or steak next.
Top with shredded cheese.
Chopped up breaded chicken tenders
Chopped up buffalo chicken tenders
Chicken and steak
Homemade potato chips
Grilled peppers, onions, or mushrooms.
My perfect chicken or steak salad:
Okay, so I have a specific way I really like my salad. I start with my salad layer. I squirt this layer with fresh lemon juice. I then add Poppy seed dressing. The recipe is here. Fries go next. Then grilled pepper and onions before the meat. Once my salad is complete with the cheese melting over everything, I add fresh ground salt and pepper. I then use a side of ranch and dip each bite. The ranch and poppy seed mix is really good. Try it, you’ll like it.
Oh, and how could I forget? Serve with garlic bread!
Happy salad assembling!