Folks in the south just love chicken salad. Around the brunch table, at special event parties, and on the menu of any reputable sandwich shop, chicken salad is ubiquitous. We just love it too, and we decided that if the future bakery stands any chance of making a name for itself, we must develop a signature chicken salad recipe. But before we get to “signature,” let’s just master the basics.
Step 1: The Chicken. Most recipes out there call for poached chicken breasts. We prefer to roast our whole birds with the backbone cut out – this helps the white meat and dark meat finish at about the same time. About 50 minutes at 400 degrees and you’re done. We like to rub the skin with olive oil and lemon pepper, and stuff rosemary under the skin. Would these flavors matter to the chicken salad? We weren’t sure, but we didn’t really care – we just love the aroma of roasting rosemary filling the kitchen.
We also wanted a chicken salad that was more about the chicken and less about the dressing. Some chicken salads are delicious, granted, but consist primarily of mayonnaise with bits of chicken dispersed throughout. We wanted the converse consistency, with the dressing being used primarily to bring everything together but not to dominate the show.
We also love curry. So . . .
Step 2: The Dressing. After reading through half a dozen recipes, taking notes from each that we liked, we ended up with the following ingredients: mayonnaise, yellow onion, celery, stone ground mustard, lemon, roasted almond slivers, salt, pepper, and curry powder. The amounts of each of these would just be best guest estimates; there is much more testing to be done before we settle on exact measurements.
“What! No fruit?!?” you say. Well, at least one of us here in the shoe box doesn’t believe that fruit and mayonnaise should play together. Sorry.
The end result was really good, served over a spinach leaf on whole wheat flat bread. We judged this as “delicious,” but not yet “signature.” There is much more work to be done in the test kitchen. Stay tuned . . .