Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Creamy Chicken Salad

So last week it was like 90 degrees here for a couple of days. My apartment felt like a Sauna. It was much too hot to do anything, especially cook. But alas we had to eat, so instead of pouring myself a hearty bowl of honey nut cheerios I made chicken salad sandwiches. Before you crinkle your nose up at the thought of the bland chicken and mayonnaise combo, hear me out. This chunky, crunchy, chewy, sweet and savory salad came straight from heaven. It starts with a flavorful poaching liquid, in which chicken is cooked until shred-able. Cashews are toasted, herbs chopped, lemon zested, all get tossed with dried cherries, a bit of creamy mayonnaise and of course the shredded chicken. Perfectly paired with baby spinach leaves, or sandwiched between a lightly toasted croissant you'll have your self a pretty great little summertime meal if you ask me. These require very little hot cooking and are refreshing on a warm evenings. They also can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator if that's what you're into.
Creamy Chicken Salad:

4 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
4 chicken breasts
1/2 Onion, halved
1 celery stalk, halved
1/2 teaspoon of each dried parsley, sage, marjoram, thyme (or 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning)
1 cup real mayonnaise
1/2 cup toasted cashews, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries
3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped (or 1 ½ teaspoon dried tarragon)
2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
To serve
6 large croissants, cut in half and lightly toasted
Fresh spinach leaves

Place chicken pieces, onion, celery and seasoning into a large pot, cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil. Cook until chicken is no longer pink or registers 165 degrees internal temperature. Chicken breasts will probably be done before the thighs, check to make sure all chicken is cooked through. When chicken is finished remove the pieces from the hot water and place them on a sheet pan to cool. When chicken is cool enough to handle remove and discard the skin from the thighs and begin to shred all the chicken into bite sized chunks. Cover chicken and let cool in the refrigerator while preparing the dressing.
In a large bowl gently combine mayonnaise, cashews, cherries, tarragon, honey, dijon, lemon zest and juice, till incorporated. Season with salt, pepper and cinnamon, taste to adjust. Add the shredded chicken when it has cooled to the mayonnaise mixture. Serve cold with spinach leaves and split toasted croissants. Can be made 1 - 2 days in advance.
* The chicken to be used in this recipe can be flexible. If you have a whole chicken you'd like to use do that, or use all chicken breasts, or all thighs. However I find a combination of dark and light meat to be the best.
*Another easy alternative would be to use a cooled store bought rotisserie chicken.


  1. You had me until the mayo. Someone needs to come up with a chicken or potato salad recipe without mayo. And that someone should be you.

  2. Haha you could sub in plain greek yogurt for the mayo!