This is so ridiculously simple -- do I actually need a recipe for this? If this is what you're thinking, I do not blame you one bit. However, let me ask you this? How often have you eaten a chicken salad that you have really liked? In my experience, they either tend to be too mayo-ey, or too sweet, or way too crunchy, or not crunchy at all. It all comes down to one simple thing -- Balance! Simple word, but not so simple to acheive. Be it in food, our life, work, social committments, we are always striving to achieve that perfect balance. Oh sorry -- forgot this is a food blog. Lets just keep the subject simple --- Chicken Salad.
Now why did I think of making this? Well, it was a hot hot weekend, and we'd eaten a lot already - July 4th BBQ, friends over on July 5th, and we were now having some neighborhood friends over for brunch. I thought I'd keep it relatively light, simple, and summery. My first thought were something to do with eggs, but just didn't feel like that brunchy type stuff. Given that our friends were coming over around 12:30, I thought I'd do something lunch-y instead. So here goes......
Oh another thing! With all due respect to Luisa on Wednesday Chef, I actually think raisins work quite well with chicken salad. And that is funny coming from me, as it is only in the last few years or so that I have developed a liking for fruits in my food. I used to have a big issue with sweet in my savory food. That included fruit-based salsas with grilled seafood or chicken, apricots and prunes in stews, pineapple on pizza (wait! I still hate that stuff). Over the years, I have grown to tolerate, and sometimes even appreciate the balance of sweet-salty one achieves by artfully using fruit to complement flavors. But this is an art - you use the right kind of sweet and Genius! Use the wrong kind or amount, and you have a mess! Something akin to too much grape jelly in the crockpot meatball sauce (what is up with that?).
Anyway, back to brunch/lunch. We had curried chicken salad sandwiches alongside a tossed green salad with fresh strawberries. Oh! We started with a Chilled Melon Soup. Civilized, huh?
Curried Chicken Salad with Rasins and Almonds
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated, Best Recipe
Serves 6 as a main course
4 large bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (approx 3 lbs total)
1 tbsp canola oil
3 medium celery ribs, cut into small dice
2 medium scallions, white and green parts, minced
3/4 cup mayonnaise ( I used canola mayonnaise)
2 tbsp juice from 1 lemon
2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
6 tbsp golden raisins
3 tbsp roasted slivered almonds
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
For the chicken:
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat to 400F. Set the chicken breasts on a foil-lined jelly roll pan. Brush with the oil and sprinkle generously with salt. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 160 degrees, about 40 minutes. Cool the chicken to room temperature. Remove skin and bones and discard.
Gently pry the chicken breast meat off the bone. Cut each breast onto 3 pieces so you don't end up with very long and unmanageable shreds. Use your hands to pull apart each piece. Shred into small chunks. Don't over-shred into long strings or the salad tastes stringy instead of creamy.
Note: The chicken can be prepared a day ahead. Once the chicken breasts have cooled, remove the skin. Store the chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Best to shred the meat right before making the salad.
For the Salad:
Mix the shredded chicken and all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve. The salad can be refrigerated for a day.
I served the chicken salad on toasted ciabatta rolls. You could use any bread of your choice, or a wrap, or even serve on greens.