M. Andrew Gordon

Sunday Dining, Part Two: A New Classic Chicken Salad

In Main Dish on May 17, 2010 at 8:19 pm

In the second part of the Sunday Dining series, we will make a stopover for a different take on that all-American classic, Chicken Salad.  Did you know that, according to Wikipedia (therefore, it simply must be true), classic chicken salad with mayonnaise and tarragon was first popularized in Wakefield, Rhode Island?  Yet another reason to love li’l Rhodey.

Chicken salad is something I have only recently begun to enjoy.  For a long time, I naively passed on chicken salad because I envisioned the sort of institutional mayonnaise pulp one might find in a bad cafeteria.  Rather than suffer through that indignity whenever any sort of meat-mayo-salad was offered, I would opt for anything else.  Thankfully, I was exposed to a rather transformative chicken salad full of walnuts and dried cranberries and my newfound enjoyment of chicken salad was reborn.

Knowing that we were planning on getting a little 4.5 mile run in during the day, I wanted to use some chicken breast I would have to make chicken salad for a sandwich post-run.  Since I was going to be grilling the chicken, I wanted to help make sure the meat stayed moist, and wound up with the idea of melting butter and making a sort of curried butter sauce to glaze the breasts with.  Accompanying the chicken in the salad would be chopped Granny Smith apple for sweetness, red onion for tartness, toasted pecans to add more depth, and some garlic to add a little…zip.  That’s it, garlic for zip.  Sounds a little like a slogan from the 1950s.

New Classic Chicken Salad

Makes four sandwiches plus leftovers

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • ¼ cup plus one tablespoon mayonnaise
  • One lemon, juiced
  • Half large Granny Smith apple, chopped
  • ¼ cup pecans, toasted and chopped
  • Half small red onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Light grill and heat to medium.  Combine butter, cumin, chile powder, turmeric, paprika, salt and pepper in saucepan.  Melt butter and mix thoroughly.
  2. Cook chicken, brushing with butter regularly.  Let cool and chop.
  3. Mix mayonnaise and lemon juice.  Add apple, pecans, onion, and garlic and combine.  Add chicken and mix thoroughly.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pile chicken salad on toasted bread, into a pita, or on a bed of lettuce.
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