Favorite Chicken Salad Recipe?
I defrosted 6 boneless chicken breasts the other day intending to make dinner in only to find myself working late and going out yet again. I need help before the chicken goes bad. I'd like to make chicken salad but every time I poach chicken it just seems to go gray and rubbery. Any tricks to share? Any great (and easy) recipes to recommend?
I find that grilling chicken, either outside on the grill or in a grill pan on the stove, makes much better chicken salad than poached, etc. This is my own recipe I make often, it is easy and very good:
GRILLED CHICKEN SALAD
Marinate 4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless) in olive oil, salt and pepper, juice of one lemon, and thyme, overnight or for a couple of hours. Grill the chicken, let cool, then dice into bite-sized chunks.
Toss the chicken with:
1/4 lb SMOKED Gouda cheese, diced (this really makes the recipe)
2 ribs celery, with leaves, chopped
1 small sweet onion, chopped
Toasted walnut pieces
Red Seedless grapes, halved
Mayonnaise (I go light on the mayo)
Zest of one lemon
Let the salad sit for an hour or so, it gets better with age
You might look at this as an alternative cooking method (link below). I'm not a fan of poaching -- here, you're cooking chicken in milk or cream in a baking dish at 350 for 4o minutes. Thanks to chow tips, I have picked this up... I know another hound originally scooped this idea from Silver Palate New Basics cookbook. Also, you can add a clove of garlic to the milk and discard after if you like garlicky flavors (this is mildly garlic-infused...)
I like this recipe for chicken tarragon salad with grapes and walnuts. Any white vinegar works in the dressing, and in a punch I have used parsley and even cilantro (adding mango instead of the grapes!) for the fresh tarragon. At least one fresh herb is key, though. I like to make my own mayo for this recipe if I have time. :) YUM.
I like the shallots here for a teensy bit of bite. Also, I added some homemade rhubarb compote a few times, which added another delightful layer of flavor. Others use peach preserves in the dressing...
Thanks all. It came out smashingly. I used the mayo-curry powder- wine vinegar dressing with granny smith apples to which I added some raisins and I loved it. I poached the chicken in chicken broth and let it cook a good long time. No gray meat and easily shreddable. A real confidence builder. I'm going to try each of the recipes. I really like the idea of the mango chutney. A new world conquered thanks to all of you!
I pulled this recipe off of Chowhound- Chinesey chicken salad- I eliminate the cucumbers as I think they get mushy. I frequently use the leftover boiled chicken from the chicken soup. As a variation, instead of chicken you can use steamed shelled edamame, and voila! I gave you some ideas for your Chanukah party post and you could use this recipe with edamame instead of chicken.
How long ago is "the other day"? I'd toss potentially sketchy defrosted chicken.
That being said, here are some ideas for tasty chicken salad.
The following will provide 4-6 servings, depending on how many extras you add.
3 cups of cooked chicken (poached or from a rotisserie bird, chopped or torn)
1/4 to 1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 to 1 cup celery, sliced
Optional fruit (choose one):
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, quartered, core and seeds removed, diced
1 cup seedless grapes, washed and halved
1 cup mango, peeled and diced
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 11-oz. can Mandarin orange segments, drained
Optional nuts (choose one):
1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds, preferably toasted
1/4 cup pecan pieces, preferably toasted
1/2 cup or more Poppy Seed Dressing (see below)
1/2 cup or more White Barbecue Sauce (see below)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. sugar, brown sugar or honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Optional: 1 tsp. Madras curry powder OR 1 tsp. dried tarragon
Stir chicken together with your preferred assortment of veggies, fruit and nuts.
Pour desired dressing over the chicken combination and stir, adding more mayo to taste. Refrigerate.
Pile this salad into sandwiches, or serve on lettuce leaves with some crusty rolls, and you've got yourself a great lunch or a light supper.
Poppy Seed Dressing:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 to 3 tsp. sugar, to taste
2 to 3 tsp. poppy seeds, to taste
White Barbecue Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar OR the juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. mustard
1 tsp. prepared horseradish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper
Wow -- I'm going to have to try some of these variations!
My favorite is similar to some posted here.
It's chunk/cubes of chicken (I prefer it to shredded), celery (in cubes -- not too small), and cubes of Granny Smith apple (the tartness is great). I make the dressing in a separate bowl first (so it mixes well) -- mayo, lots of curry powder, splash of a white (white wine or white basalmic) vinegar, pinch of salt, and black pepper. Simple but tasty!
I've got a few chicken salads I like (and am thinking I should whip up right now for lunches this week...thanks for the inspiration!).
One is chicken (duh!), celery, mayo, dijon mustard, rosemary and dried cranberries. Some sweet onion is good, too if you feel like it. I wish I could tell you the proportions, but it's been a while since I've made it.
Another I like to do is chicken with basil pesto, roasted bell peppers and parmesan, but I like to serve it warm.
My other fave is chicken, pineapple chunks, roasted cashews, cilantro, diced celery, mayo, tabasco to taste and a dash of fish sauce. I love the vinegar in the tabasco with the sweetness of the pineapple!
As for poaching the chicken, maybe you need to let it cook a while longer? I like to let mine cook until I can shred it it with a couple of forks. Maybe including some salt/seasoning in the cooking liquid would help too?
I think the problem might be the "frozen" chicken. I only buy chicken from the best butcher I can find and cook it that day or the next. When I poach it for chicken salad, I bring breasts (including skin & bones) to a boil with a quatered onion, maybe celery, s & p, then simmer 50 min or so with lid on. Then I remove lid, remove from heat and let stand in the broth about 1/2 hour.
I fill a pan with water and add some celery, onion, a bay leaf and some chicken bullion powder (or some chicken base or a cube). When it is fully boiling, I add the chicken breasts. I let the water come back to a boil and then put a lid on and turn it off. After half an hour or so (maybe longer, I just do it), the chicken seems to be perfectly cooked. My favorite chicken salad is with mango chutney dressing. My friends love it too. Lots of recipes for it on-line, but one thing I do different is use half mayo and half plain yogurt for the dressing. I also add crunchy stuff.
I love a sweet and savory chicken salad. Depending on what I have in the fridge, I try to include celery,onions,silvered almonds,raisins,and a bit of curry powder mixed into plain yogurt/mayo dressing with a splash of red wine vinegar.I am going to try the mango chutney,though. Thanks MazDee.
Don't get fancy with cooking the meat, just boil it - meaning bring the water with the meat to a full boil, cover, turn off heat, come back in half an hour and they should be quite done through (check).
Chop or shred the meat, toss with mayo (or ... please hold the boo's ... Miracle Whip) and minced celery and minced sweet apple.
re: wayne keyser
I agree, that is the best way to cook the chicken.
I used to make copious quantities of really easy, really yummy chicken salad when I worked at a small sandwich shop years ago. After the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it by hand and mix in lots (lots!) of mayo, a couple handfuls of whole walnuts and green olives, and season to taste with S&P. This stuff flew out the door, we could not keep up with demand.