… from the California Kitchen
How you doin’? I happen to love all types of mixed salads—egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad and yes, even spam salad. But not just any old kinds of mixed salads—they must have a special zing about them. Let’s take the Chicken Salad… it can be served as a sandwich, in a cup of lettuce or stuffed into a half avocado or large tomato. In fact, all of the aforementioned salads can be served in these ways.
The zing comes with the selected ingredients and dressing that really sets your homemade mixed salad ahead of those store-bought deli salads. Don’t you always feel so much better when you know what’s in it and how it’s made?
Once you've nailed the basics of chicken salad, there are endless ways to customize this classic dish to your liking. Let’s start with the chicken.
To my taste the best chicken salad is made with boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Yes, I go for the dark meat because it yields a moist, more flavorful result and they are easier on the budget. Chicken breasts are okay as long as they’re not overcooked. Start by seasoning your chicken well with salt, pepper and a little garlic power, covering tightly with aluminum foil and baking at 300°F for 60-minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 165⁰ F and the juices run clear. The cooked chicken will be tender, ready-to-dice with plenty of rich pan juice.
When making a large batch of chicken salad, don’t over mix it. Stir the ingredients just until you get the consistency you like. Always use a good quality mayonnaise, a little sour cream, grainy mustard—don’t forget a tablespoon or two of fresh lemon juice. The citric acid will ‘brighten” the mixture.
Next, you'll want to add something sweet—sugar, honey, and sweet relish are all great options for bringing perfect balance to your chicken salad dressing. Freshly chopped celery, scallions, parsley, and dried spices make for highly flavored, crisp finish.
To make my sweet, curried chicken salad, just follow the directions and enjoy. Add in grapes, toasted pecans, and chopped apples, too. It is healthy and tasty with a fruity twist. It’s great on a croissant or in a honey pita. Note: This salad is best if eaten the day after preparation. This allows the ingredients time to mingle, giving a fuller flavor. If desired, use nonfat mayonnaise.
Prep time: 50 minutes
Refrigerate time: overnight
Yield: 8 servings
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cooked and diced
1 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup green onions, chopped into rounds
1/2 cup ripe mango diced
1/2 cup green apple, peeled and diced
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon curry powder
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup toasted caramelized pecans, rough chopped
1/3 cup seedless green grapes, halved
ChefSecret: Consider serving the Sweet Curried Chicken Salad in a scooped, toasted round brioche loaf, on a warm croissant or stuffed into a split warmed pita.
Quip of the Day: Have you noticed that supermarket clerks are so overworked they never have time to chat? Last week I bought a pound of bird seed, and I asked the checker how long it would take for the birds to grow after planting the seeds. It took a minute, but I did manage to get a chuckle and a bit of a smile.
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