My taste in chicken salad runs the gamut. I like it ultra-plain jane all the way to super fancy-schmancy. I usually make it both ways because Husband doesn't want anything fancy. Any time I’m whipping up something good in the kitchen and he pops in for a taste, he always stops just before taking a bite to ask me in the most
whining pleading voice, “This doesn't have nuts in it, does it?”
This is my fancy-schmancy chicken salad recipe. I've called this one Golden Pecan because it has golden raisins and pecans (which is my favorite combination) but when you look below you’ll see different fruit and nut options if mine aren't your favorite.
There’s a little trick to this recipe that you don’t want to skip. I saw Julia Child do this once on a cooking show and it’s been scorched into my brain ever since. You “marinate” the cooked chicken in the seasonings and a little olive oil before adding the other ingredients. This helps the chicken absorb the flavors and stay moist. You don’t have to use near as much mayo when you make it this way either. So, the end result is more flavorful and you don’t have use as much mayo? Double score!
I’ll be posting my plain jane version soon – stay tuned!
Golden Pecan Chicken Salad
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken breast*
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup golden raisins
Combine chicken, olive oil, thyme and salt in a medium bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or up to 4 hours). Add mayo, pecans and raisins and mix well. Salt to taste if necessary. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup pistachios
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pineapple tidbits in heavy syrup, drained well
1 cup chopped apples
1 cup halved or quartered grapes
*Any leftover chicken will work but when I’m making this from scratch, I poach chicken breasts in a little water liberally seasoned with salt and pepper. And I always, always, always use the bone-in split chicken breasts with skin because the chicken is so much more flavorful than boneless/skinless chicken breasts. And when I’m done I have a rich, yummy chicken stock leftover to pop in the freezer for later use.