Best chicken salad? for 30 people
Hey folks - looking for an overall easy recipe - which would take kindly to doubling/tripling for 30 guests (baby shower...and they will also have a potato salad and a green salad, maybe even a fruit salad).
Saw a nice asian one that called for shredded chicken - any tips on shredding chicken? How bout if i marinate it, bake in oven and then just sort of pull apart with the tines of a fork?
Also....do you have any tips/hints/recipes for the best? Ideally - not required - but ideally it'd be a sort of vinegar-based dressing as I have some condiment phobes on the guest list, honestly)
I would poach/boil chicken quarters rather than baking--quarters are cheap & easy to handle. Poaching/boiling is easy and will keep the chicken moist; baking will tend to dry it out. Get out your biggest soup pot, put in water, an onion stuck with cloves, and a couple of smashed garlic toes--put in the chicken and boil away. Use a mix of dark & light parts for best flavor. When you can easily separate the chicken from the bone, it's done. Remove to a platter, allow to cool, and shred away--your fingers and a fork will work just fine.
I love chicken salad with chopped walnuts, apples, and halved grapes--the combo is nice with a poppyseed dressing...offer toasted mini croissants or sliced brioche on the side.
re: Hungry Celeste
When I make chicken salad, instead of boiling, I get the water to rolling boil, add the chicken, cover, and turnn off the burner. It takes about an hour to cook. I saw this on a Yan Can Cook episode, and it works great. I use boneless chicken breasts to make chicken salad, and cooking them this way keeps them nice and moist.
re: Hungry Celeste
I made this really good chicken salad (no mayonnaise involved) as part of the menu for our family reunion, where the star was a Caja China roast pig. I have to admit that I used supermarket rotisserie chickens because I just had too much else going on to be roasting chickens, too. Its a Nigella Lawson recipe that was in The New York Times last summer. The recipe below serves 4, so youd have to multiply it according to your needs. To serve our bunch, I ended up using 3 chickens.
Regarding how to shred the chicken - I find it easier to do while the meat is still warm, using two forks as you mentioned, or even with just my hands.
Roast Chicken Salad
10 cups baby leaf spinach
5½ cups roast chicken, cooled and roughly shredded
4 scallions, finely sliced into rings
2 ripe avocados
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1½ teaspoons salt
finely grated zest of 1 lime
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Throw the spinach, shredded chicken, scallions and around ¾ of the chopped cilantro into a large mixing bowl. Add chunks of peeled avocado. Use a smaller bowl to make some dressing by stirring together the salt, lime zest and lime juice. Then whisk in the oil and add pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over and toss gently by hand. Arrange the salad on a large platter and sprinkle with the last bit of chopped cilantro.
Vietnamese Chicken Salad might do it for you. I make it quickly with the bagged coleslaw mix from the grocery store. Combine that with shredded posched chicken breasts and thinly sliced shallots, minced red Thai chiles, shredded mint leaves and minced garlic. Dress it with 2 Tbs. fish sauce, 2 Tbs. lime juice, 1Tbs. white rice vinegar, and 2 Tbs. sugar. Top with chopped peanuts. The dressing amount is for 4-6 so you would want to scale that up. The salad is light and refreshing and we enjoy it quite a bit.
Here's an easy one:
Cooked chicken - cubed or shredded (anyway you like, even good quality canned ones)
Celery - sliced on a bias
Onion - sliced thin (if using red onion, leave them raw; if plain yellow or white onion, I would blench for 30 seconds to take away the bite)
Herbs of your choice - optional (parsley, tarragon, etc.)
Dressing: (make this to taste)
Olive oil (use flavored one if you like - I usually use my lime one)
Seasoned rice vinegar
Lime or lemon juice (optional)
Toss all ingredients together and you're set. It's actually better if you make this ahead, so the flavors can mingle.
The best chicken salad I've ever had is from the Silver Palate cookbook - it might be called Tarragon Chicken Salad. A coworker made it for happy hour, and it was extraordinary... because you bake the chicken in creme fraiche! I made it for a friend with a new baby, and it is wonderfully rich and delicious. If tarragon isn't to your liking, you can tone it down.