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One of the Joys of Maturity

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Chicken Salad
November 7, 2009

When we had kids at home, one of the treats we'd spoil them with was chicken salad. Our youngest daughter especially enjoyed it with club crackers. As the price at the deli in our local grocery rose to about $6/pound, our enjoyment and frequency of buying it seriously decreased.

We tried any number of online recipes for chicken salad and finally ended up with the recipe below. It's a combination of several good chicken salad recipes we found online.

  • Chicken Salad Sandwich2 cups cooked, cubed (or cut up small) chicken white meat
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
  • 1/4 cup sweet relish (drained)
  • 3 sliced hard boiled eggs
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (more or less to preference)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Boiling chicken chunksWhen we cook chicken breasts for chicken salad, we usually do so in canned chicken stock. It seems to give the chicken a bit more flavor, and anything that comes off the meat into the stock only improves it for whatever it goes on to be (chicken & noodles, Portuguese Kale Soup, Asiago Cheese & Tortellini Soup...).

Be sure to start with a large mixing bowl for this recipe. I use a large, 4 quart mixing bowl that was part of a set of 4 my mother gave me years ago (when I was a 40ish DWM).

Raw chickenAnyway, we start with "2 cups" of chicken breast meat cut up into cubes. Often we may use chicken harvested from when we purchase bone-in chicken breasts at the grocery, filet and freeze the major breast meat, and boil the remaining meat, bone, and skin for chicken broth. And do note from the photo at right that the 2 cups part is probably a little light.

Chopping celeryI generally slit my celery stalks lengthwise before cutting them to save a bit of time later in chopping them fairly finely. That, of course, is a matter of personal preference. If you like big chunks of celery in your chicken salad, go for it!

Do note that the order you add the ingredients, other than the mayonnaise, really makes no difference in the final product. But if you choose to leave out the sweet relish, you may want to increase the amount of lemon juice a bit (a tablespoon?). add your lemon juice, sour cream, relish, chopped or sliced hard boiled eggs and mix a bit.

Chicken chicken & celery Everything but mayo Mixing

At this point, you're ready to begin adding mayonnaise. I recommend adding it a bit at a time. The 1/2 cup listed above is really just an approximation. My wife likes less, while I like more. I generally package up some for her and then add more mayo to what's left and mix it in for me!

As you mix in your mayo tablespoon by tablespoon, you can look and taste for the desired consistency. Be sure to smash the egg yolks and mix them well at this point.

Finished chicken saladLet me add another recommendation, or possibly just a personal preference. Unless you have some health issues that dictate otherwise, go with Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise. I've found it makes a real difference in chicken salad. If you prefer your chicken salad a bit less rich, omit the sour cream and/or use Miracle Whip.

As you stir in your mayo, salt and pepper just a bit at a time to your preference in taste.

Chicken salad sandwichWhat we don't eat immediately, we store in whatever seems handy. Most often that turns out to be a used deli container that may have once held chicken or potato salad, melons, or whatever else we may have bought from the deli. I think we got started using such containers to fool our youngest daughter into thinking our chicken salad was the grocery's high-priced stuff!

I hope you enjoy it!

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