Chicken Salad

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Everyone has their guilty pleasures, their comfort foods, and their fallback dishes. One of mine is an everyday simple chicken salad.

Now, I think it’s fair to say at one time or another just about every ingredient possible has been stirred into someone’s bowl of chicken salad. Certainly there are some more popular and traditional than others.

Growing up it was usually mayonnaise, pickle relish, and celery. Which is good. But I think this recipe is better. Dramatically better.

 

I must tell you up front, this recipe is inspired and adapted from Chicken Salad Contessa by Ina Garten.  Well-deserved credit where credit is due.

But while that recipe is meant to be served on a plate and eaten with a fork, mine is meant to be spread on a sandwich. So the ingredients will be the same but the preparation will be slightly different. Perhaps more of a Flip-flops Contessa than Barefoot.

The big differences are: I shred the chicken, chop the nuts, and quarter the grapes.

A classic version of Chicken Salad adapted from Ina Garten. Good simple ingredients make for a guilty pleasure anyone can make. See suppertimeblues.com to learn more.

The recipe calls for a pound-and-a-half of chicken and I almost never have that much as a leftover. But our local butcher has free-range locally-raised chicken breast for about three dollars per pound. Which makes this recipe affordable — just add a few lettuce leaves and some bread.

I prefer roasting over poaching or boiling chicken. Roast the chicken breast fillets on a rimmed sheet pan lined with parchment paper (or your favorite roasting pan) for 35-40 minutes at 350°F. Check the thickest part with an instant read digital thermometer (like this one) for 160°F (165°F is considered fully-cooked).

A classic version of Chicken Salad adapted from Ina Garten. Good simple ingredients make for a guilty pleasure anyone can make. See suppertimeblues.com to learn more.


Let the chicken rest for ten minutes to finish cooking and draw back its juices.

Meanwhile, while the oven’s still hot, toast the nuts for 7-8 minutes at 350°F.

A classic version of Chicken Salad adapted from Ina Garten. Good simple ingredients make for a guilty pleasure anyone can make. See suppertimeblues.com to learn more.

If you can, make your own mayonnaise. If not, use a good organic brand. (My favorite lately is Hellman’s Organic and it’s available at most of the local grocery stores.)

As for sour cream, we like regular old Daisy the best. No spurious ingredients — only one actually, cultured cream — and it tastes good. Read your labels, you’ll be amazed at some of the things they add to sour cream! Years ago I also liked Breakstone’s, which is owned by Kraft these days, but it’s not easily available in our part of the country.

Stir together the mayonnaise, sour cream, tarragon, salt, and pepper in a bowl and mix well.

Then stir in the chopped toasted nuts and the quartered grapes.

Now that they’re cool enough to handle, cut the chicken into chunks and put about half of them into the food processor.

A classic version of Chicken Salad adapted from Ina Garten. Good simple ingredients make for a guilty pleasure anyone can make. See suppertimeblues.com to learn more.

Pulse 20-30 times until it’s roughly shredded without any large chunks. Remember, we want it shredded, not a paste. Remove the chicken to the bowl and shred the other half.

Now bring it all together. Fold the shredded chicken into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients until everything’s well-coated.

Cover and chill until needed. Since the chicken is cooked this should keep for days in the refrigerator so you can make it ahead of suppertime or the picnic.

 

A classic version of Chicken Salad adapted from Ina Garten. Good simple ingredients make for a guilty pleasure anyone can make. See suppertimeblues.com to learn more.

Chicken Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 servings

A classic version of Chicken Salad adapted from Ina Garten. Good simple ingredients make for a guilty pleasure anyone can make. See suppertimeblues.com to learn more.

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Ingredients

Roast Chicken

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast
  • drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup seedless green grapes, quartered

Instructions

  1. Roast the chicken breast on a rimmed sheet pan lined with parchment paper (or your favorite roasting pan) for 35-40 minutes at 350°F. Check the thickest part with an instant read digital thermometer.

  2. Toast the nuts in the same oven for 7-8 minutes.

  3. Stir together the mayonnaise, sour cream, tarragon, salt, and pepper in a bowl and mix well. 

  4. Stir the chopped toasted nuts and the quartered grapes into the dressing.

  5. Cut the chicken into chunks and pulse half of them in a food processor 20-30 times or until roughly shredded without any large chunks. 

  6. Remove the chicken to the dressing bowl and shred the other half. Add that to the dressing bowl and fold everything together until coated and well-mixed.

  7. Cover and chill until needed.

A classic version of Chicken Salad adapted from Ina Garten. Good simple ingredients make for a guilty pleasure anyone can make. See suppertimeblues.com to learn more.


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4 thoughts on “Chicken Salad

  1. Bill, nice post for an easy to make salad/spread. Can’t go with the nuts as we have a nut allergy in the house. Thinking I’ll toast some pine nuts and pumpkin seeds and give it a try. I’ll serve some sweet pickle relish on the side in case I have withdrawal symptoms.

    • Thanks, Ron. You can see from the picture that I pulled some gherkins out for myself on the side! I think the nuts add both flavor and texture so the crunch of pine nuts and pumpkin seeds would be good. Consider maybe a few chopped dates to make up some of the nuttiness as well?

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