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Chunky chicken salad

October 28, 2010 1 comment

Once, there was a sandwich franchise in town that made a great chunky chicken salad with carrots and celery.  But they went out of business, so I decided to try to recreate (or approximate) the recipe myself.  I researched various chicken salad recipes online, distilled some common factors about ingredients and proportions, and used those as the basis for creating my own recipe.  It went basically like this:

CHUNKY CHICKEN SALAD

1 1/3 cups cooked chicken, diced
1/3 cup celery
1/6 cup julienned carrots
2/3 oz pecans or walnuts (roughly)
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix dry ingredients (chicken, celery, carrots, nuts, salt, pepper) in one bowl and set aside.  Mix mayo, lemon juice and mustard in another bowl.  Spoon mayo mixture into chicken mixture and mix gently.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Cover bowl and chill for at least an hour.  Makes c. 3 servings.

Now, when I’ve made this recipe in the past, it’s tended to come out a little short for me, more like 2.5 servings.  So this time I decided to double the recipe.  To make it a little leaner, I substituted plain Greek yogurt for about half the mayonnaise.  (No reason it has to be Greek; it’s just that the store was out of regular plain yogurt in a single-serve container.  I used about half the cup, then mixed some strawberry jam in with the rest and ate it.)

But then it occurred to me that maybe there was a reason chicken salad recipes aren’t usually that big — namely spoilage.  I wondered if I’d made too much.  But I checked and found that you can freeze chicken salad (though once you thaw it you should drain off the excess liquid and stir in a bit more mayo).  So I froze about 2 servings’ worth, giving me 3 whole servings to have over the past couple of days.  Works out nicely.

Anyway, I had my first serving on a whole garlic-oregano pita with Romaine lettuce and four grape tomatoes, just wrapping the pita like a soft taco shell.   I kept the tomatoes whole, which wasn’t a great idea.  The next two times, I halved the grape tomatoes.  The second time, I had the chicken salad, tomatoes, and lettuce in a wrap (soft tortilla) and added cucumber; the third time, today, I didn’t have too much chicken salad left so I had it, the tomatoes, and lettuce in a half-pita.  I didn’t try a sandwich per se since those are messy.  If one wanted to put this chunky chicken salad on regular bread, I’d recommend thicker slices than you get from storebought bread.  It works better if it’s more contained as in a pita or soft tortilla.

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