the food out here

The ballad of chicken salad

By HUNTER HILL
Posted 6/23/21

Better late than never, seems to be the motto of my family homesteading this season as we race to catch up with nearly every aspect of our farming. We started up our season of meat birds again after …

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the food out here

The ballad of chicken salad

Posted

Better late than never, seems to be the motto of my family homesteading this season as we race to catch up with nearly every aspect of our farming. We started up our season of meat birds again after waiting for the chick hatcheries to open late due to the pandemic. If anything, though, we did get the garlic in on time—since it was planted last year. But now we’re racing to catch up on harvesting the scapes off of the garlic. If you’ve never had garlic scapes, I highly recommend it. They are as delicious as garlic with an added buttery texture.

But as I was saying, our first batch of chickens finally came due for processing this week. After packaging the last of them, I decided we needed to do a little quality assurance, if you will. After taking one home, my wife pan-roasted the chicken in a cast-iron pan with a nice herby mix, which kept the chicken soft and tender as well as flavorful and crispy (we left the skin on, which not only brings that texture but also soaks in even more flavor than the meat itself). Having eaten the legs and wings with some rice, my wife decided the remaining breasts would be great to use for lunch the next day by chopping them up and making chicken salad. Not a bad way to split a full chicken between two adults, a baby, and more than two meals.

Normally when she makes chicken salad, I try to splurge and buy a fancy bun to eat it on. Pretzel buns, ciabatta, even some sourdoughs are really great with this recipe. My favorite part is the grapes. If you are someone who would normally think to leave out the grapes, trust me: don’t. The grapes give an otherwise heavy salad a lighter feel while also adding volume to the mixture. They provide these bright bursts of fresh flavor as you make your way through the savory chicken and thick creamy sauce that combines it all. And filling? Let’s just say I’m not one to back away from a lumberjack breakfast, but this sandwich is normally a one and done for my appetite. Like my wife, you can make lots of different adjustments to the recipe itself depending on your preference for nuts and other spices. The recipe she uses here calls for celery and tarragon, which are great, but my wife has a personal vendetta against celery despite my appreciation for it in summer salad recipes such as this. In its place she added thyme, salt, pepper and basil. It also calls for poached chicken, making a lovely white color that aesthetically enhances the dish—but to be perfectly honest, if it tastes good, the appearance doesn’t matter too much. In the pursuit of that flavor—as I said before—she used roasted chicken breasts, which are darker but are guaranteed to have more flavor.

The way out here in the kitchen, we use the chicken we have, and not necessarily the chicken the darn recipe calls for. Enjoy!

Chicken salad

Recipe courtesy of www.downshiftology.com/recipes/chicken-salad

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 cup red grapes, quartered
2 stalk celery, diced
3 green onions (green and white parts), sliced
2 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Handful of grapes
Place the chicken breasts in a wide pot or pan and cover by about an inch with cold water. Season the water with salt. Optionally, you can add aromatics of your choice.

Two chicken breasts in a pot.

Turn the heat to medium until it reaches a gentle simmer. Then reduce the heat back to low and cover the pan. Let the chicken simmer for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165 degrees. Remove the chicken and let it rest for a couple of minutes. Then chill in the fridge.

Transfer the cooled chicken to a cutting board and dice it into half-inch pieces. Slice and dice the celery, green onion, grapes, parsley and tarragon. Add those ingredients to a mixing bowl along with the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix everything together until it’s well combined. Let it chill in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

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