Its a beautiful Spring day in Colorado and I took a hike with the dogs and my neighbor today. We were talking food (because really when I am not talking about food) and I mentioned that I had made chicken salad the night before with chicken thighs. Not just any chicken thighs mind you, but ones poached with leeks, carrots, celery, parsley, salt and pepper in my crock pot. I had strained out the stock and stored it away in my freezer for some future dish and had 3 meaty thighs who needed a home.
My hubs loves my chicken salad. Its never made the same way twice because it is one of those dishes (oddly like a soup or stew) that just benefits from a touch of the improv. It can take on many flavors depending upon what you add and season with. My friend was genuinely surprised that I would not use chicken breasts. My reaction is why would I ever use chicken breasts?
Chicken breasts have become so flavorless, not to mention scary in sheer size. I once had a job buying poultry fat and visited a rendering facility. Trust me when I tell you that I almost ran away when my host met me in the lobby of the facility with rubber boots and waders. You do NOT want to visit such a facility. But I digress.
I can understand wanting a chicken breast if you are looking for a lean alternative to grill but in a chicken salad, thighs have waaayyyyy more flavor. Especially after I poach them with their skin on.
The basic approach:
Cook chicken thighs any way you like but poaching is best–cooking in liquid either in the crock pot or in a pan of simmering water in your stovetop. My previous post Stock Rocks https://wordpress.com/post/84926550/61/details a basic approach to making good stock. Here is a shot of mine in the making:
Remove the chicken thighs with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Remove skin and the chicken from the bones and shred. Meanwhile, in a bowl combine 2-4 T of mayonnaise depending upon your own preference for mayonnaiseiness. (You can cut the calories by using plain yogurt or light sour cream in place of mayo but I would recommend you still use at least 1 T of the mayo –did you know that mayo originated in Spain? I did not. I am learning so many new things doing this blog).
Add herbs and seasonings to the mayo–mine were curry, ginger, salt, white pepper, black pepper, dill and a pinch of dry mustard. Add the chicken, some finely chopped apple, celery and nuts if you like and stir to coat. If the salad is a little dry you can add 1-2 T of water to moisten it up (I used the word “moisten” to see if Sarah is reading my blog!)
I love to serve chicken salad a variety of ways–On good bread (we prefer untoasted) with a lettuce leaf and a little mayo, wrapped in a lettuce leaf or a soft tortilla, served pretty in a scooped out tomato (for the low carb days) or my hubs fav–on crackers. When I make chicken salad, it does not last long. This time it was gone in one meal. But then again I do have a 6′ tall 14 year old boy in the house. Or as we like to call him, the Food Terminator. I did not even have time to snap a pic before he descended on the bowl like a hungry puppy.
So this weekend I am going to make another (bigger) batch of chicken salad. I am going to share it with my friend (sans ginger as she is not a fan of that flavor…wth?) and bring her over to “the Dark Side.” It would not be the first time I put peer pressure on a friend for not being more adventurous when it comes to food and drink. Its not like I am asking anyone to eat a bug for goodness sake….though I do hear fried grasshoppers are pretty tasty. There sure are enough of them hopping around the Front Range this time of year.