Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Not your average chicken salad.

Chicken salad sandwiches can be so...normal.  So average.  Many restaurants have chicken salad in some form, and don't you wonder if they're all buying it from Sam's?  I like "that kind" of chicken salad; there's a sense of calm predictability to it. You order it or buy it pre-made when you know what you want, standard chicken salad, and there it is on the menu or in the store's deli.  But chicken salad doesn't have to be boring!  From olives to cheeses to cranberries to bacon, there's a world of taste to explore. 

Preparing a great chicken salad sandwich includes ample consideration of  bread or other conveyance - you can serve it on a croissant, on crackers, on a bed of lettuce, on flatbread, pita, or flour tortilla wrap. Or on a bun, on fresh homemade bread or on toast. Make it on whole wheat, rye, brown or egg bread.  How about presenting it in a cut-out tomato or other adaptable vegetable bowl?  The serving factor can take it from very simple to very special!  Let me know your creative serving ideas, and we'll pass them along.

  The preparation of ingredients involves a lot of chopping.  If you happen to have a "chopper" like mine -  purchased years ago when my friend Susan was a Pampered Chef lady and we all went to soooo many P.C. parties - you'll have the chopping done quickly. I enjoy using it, because who doesn't like to release some stress with that familiar "Wham! Wham! Wham!" to the kitchen counter.  Consider getting your chopper out from time to time and testing it...just for fun and aggression release!

Of course, there are many versions of hand choppers and electric choppers..and you might prefer to use a knife and cutting board - especially if you like chunky bites!

Here's an easy recipe for chicken salad with a twist!  Green olives give this ultra-eggy chicken salad a boost of unexpected flavor.  We concocted this blend when we considered T's love for olives along with my enjoyment of more than the usual amount of hard-boiled eggs in chicken salad.

CEO (Chicken, Egg and Olive) Salad

Chop, by knife, chopper, or grinder: 2 cups of cooked chicken, 4 eggs, and 1/2 cup green olives with pimentos (drained), and mix together in a medium-size bowl.

Mix in a small bowl 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, 1/2 cup real mayonnaise, and pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon).  Added salt will make this a little too salty because the olives add enough of that.

Blend together - adding the mayonnaise mixture a little at a time, because you don't want it overdressed.

It's that easy!  And, like soup, even better if it rests overnight before creating your special sandwich.

So, maybe you don't like olives.  Think up your own combo, according to your favorite tastes!

Let's call "Basic Chicken Salad" the chicken and the mayo.  I scoured the web for other ideas.

Of course there are the classics:
  • Celery
  • Onion - white, red, or green
  • Chopped sweet pickles or pickle relish
  • Hard-boiled eggs, chopped
But you are fearless - so you might try:
  • Seedless grapes
  • Carrots
  • Peppers
  • Crispy bacon
  • Toasted almond slivers
  • Capers – drained
  • Potato stick snacks
  • Water chestnuts
  • Radishes
  • Nuts – walnuts, pecans, cashews, pine nuts 
  • Sesame seeds
  • Fruits- apple slices, pear, raisins, cranberries, craisins, blueberries, tomato, avocado, olives, mandarin oranges, cherries
  • Vegetables – asparagus, cucumber, broccoli
  • Cheese – hard cheese, grated or thin slices of soft cheese; how about feta?  Yum!
And so many flavors you can add to your mayo!
  • Herbs – basil, parsley, tarragon, chervil, chives, sage, mint
  • Spices – ginger, dry mustard, honey mustard, paprika, oregano, curry
  • Chutney
  • Jam or preserves
  • Honey
  • Citrus juice – lemon, orange, grapefruit
  • Peanut butter  (Yes!  We love peanut butter!)
  • Vinegar
  • Soy Sauce
  • Hot Sauce
  • Maple syrup
  • Yogurt
Experiment!  Keep it simple - you don't really want to overpower the chicken.  It's all about challenging yourself to find new flavor combos - while enjoying the variety of tastes.