Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Best Chicken Salad

The Recipe:

2 Chicken breasts, with bone & skin
4 stalkes of celery, chopped fine
2 tart apples, chopped medium fine
1 bunch scalions, chopped fine
about 3/4 cup mayonaise
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh or 1 Tbsp. dried tarragon
1/2 cup roasted almonds or walnuts, chopped up a little

Poach the chicken: put in a 3 qt. pan with water to cover. Bring up to a boil, drop to a simmer and simmer 30 min. Check the temp- internal temp of the chicken should be 165. If it's not, put back in for 5-10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the broth and let cool until you can handle it. Pull off the skin, then remove the meat from the bone. (Bonus- add the bones & skin back to the pot with the celery trimmings, some broken bay leaves from the bottom of the bottle and any spare carrots or onion you have lying about, and simmer for a couple more hours- simple chicken stock!)

Once chicken is free from its bony prison, dice to about 1/2 inch chunks. Let cool a little (while you chop up all other ingredients) and toss everything EXCEPT THE NUTS with some salt & pepper to taste. Pop in the fridge and let the flavors meld and the salad cool off completely, at least one hour but 2 or 3 would be better.

Just before serving, mix in the chopped nuts and taste for seasoning and moisture. Some folks like their salad more mayonaise-y, so add more if you like. I love tarragon and may add more here.

Great served on croissants, in lettuce cups, or on plain ol' wheat bread. Serves 4 for dinner with leftovers for lunch for a couple days. Keeps in the fridge for 3 days max.

The Story

Y'know, I don't have much of a story here. It's kind of like a Waldorf salad, kind of like a chicken salad, and it's all good. I made it up years ago and it's a favorite summer dish around here. The kids love it.

Tarragon is one of those herbs which is cheaper to buy once in a pot and use fresh forever. I have it on my deck, a plant I put in a larger planter years ago, and it keeps coming back with enough leaves to make this dish several times a summer.

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