One of my all time favorite comfort foods is Chicken Salad. Especially since there are dozens of ways to make it good. And I make it great! No brag, just fact.
I like to sample with variations of my theme, but for the most part, I follow these simple steps:
I always use both white and dark meat. I find that the addition of thigh meat gives the chicken salad a depth that white meat alone doesn’t seem to bring. Because breast and thigh meat cook at different speeds, I typically use breast strips. I cook both in the same skillet. Opposite of cake batter where I typically prefer oil, I only use butter when frying up my chicken for this recipe. I also use a citrus juice as my acidic tenderizer. Today, I used an orange.
I also use an electric skillet. I love the heat this skillet gives and also the easy clean-up. I used about 3/4 of the orange in the cooking. Half of the orange at the beginning of the cooking and about a fourth once I turn the meats. With steak and pork it’s all about the resting of the meat after cooking. I feel the same way about this chicken. I cook it until an internal temp of 165 and then I plate it and cover it to rest. With chicken salad, the chicken needs to cool completely. Here are my bird parts hanging out to rest.
Up next comes the creative part. Here are my staple ingredients.
From previous posts you will glean that I adore pickles. And for my money there is only one brand that is the best: Mt. Olive Pickles. For chicken salad, I lean toward the sweeter side of pickles. Dill are great, but for my chicken salad I always choose sweet. And for this one, I chose three different kinds of sweet pickles. Again the Simply Vidalia version is heavenly. And to that I added Simply Relish and Sweet Relish. All together a pickle rapture. (The Simply Vidalia are slices, so I diced them up.)
Now I will share with you a few of my “tips” (or hang-ups). Occasionally, I like to add nuts to my chicken salad. The only nuts I will incorporate early on are almonds. If I use pecans or walnuts, I only add them as an after delivery add-on. In today’s version, I also added dried cranberries. Here too is another hang-up. For any type of fresh fruit, I add it upon serving. I may do a quick toss just before serving, but since I make large batches of chicken salad, I estimate left-overs. And there are some things that I prefer to leave out for the storage (ie fresh fruit and certain nuts).
Wet and Dry:
I assemble all of the dry ingredients (chicken, celery, diced onion and almonds) in one bowl and give mix them up well. Separately, I combine the wet ingredients (mayonnaise, mustard and pickles). There are two reasons. I want the wet to be completely mixed together into one wet ingredient. And then when I fold the wet into the dry, I will get an even blend. I almost always use both mayonnaise and mustard, in a 4 to 1 ratio. I don’t want mustard here and not there. I want it smooth. It’s a great recipe, not a haphazard one. lol
Now let me tell you about some YUM. When I moved to TN, I discovered some mustards that I hadn’t run into before. (I may just have never noticed them, but oh boy are they great.) Inglehoffer (by Beaverton Foods) makes several different mustards and I have fallen in love with both the Creamy Dill and Honey Mustard varieties. If you haven’t tried them, I highly recommend them. And then there’s the King of Mayonaises, Duke’s. Enough said!
After I assemble all of the goodness in one bowl, I sample and sample and then finally I put it in the fridge to chill and be ready for Netflix. I can and do eat chicken salad when it’s first prepared, but I find that it marinates so nicely and the YUM factor simply increases after an hour or two of chilling.
Here’s my assemblage. After plated, I added a few extra Simply Vidalia Bread and Butter pickles and a few extra cranberries and a extra pinch of fresh dill. Trust me when I say Netflix asked to Chill with Me and My Chicken Salad. What comfort!
Peace and Love and OhMyYum!
Thank you my dear sweet friend George for having your Martha watch over my Paula always. XOXO