A Trio of Chicken Salads
Mix it up with an old favorite by adding some nontraditional ingredients and spices.
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Here's a trio of recipes from Barbara Lauterbach's book Chicken Salad that will let you improvise on an old favorite.
The Best Chicken Salad No One Remembers Eating
6 chicken breast halves
3 cups chicken stock, homemade or purchased
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
2 dried mild chiles, preferably ancho or New Mexico, stemmed and seeded
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 bay leaf
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
one 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1-1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, diced
1/2 cup chopped, roasted mild green chile, preferably New Mexico or Anaheim, fresh, frozen or canned
1/2 yellow, orange or red bell pepper, diced
2 small tomatoes, preferably Roma or Italian plum, diced
2 Hass avocados, cubed
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
lettuce leaves for servings
In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, combine the chicken, stock, tomatoes, dried chiles, onion, garlic and bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil; reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover. Poach the chicken in the liquid for 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked through. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and set it aside until cool enough to handle. Discard the bay leaf.
Transfer the cooking liquid to a blender in batches and purée. Return the liquid to the pan and simmer on medium heat for 35 to 45 minutes, until reduced to about 1-1/2 cups. Add the oil and vinegar to the reduced sauce to make a dressing. Remove any bones, skin and visible fat from the chicken and shred or cube it. Place it in a glass dish.
Pour about 2/3 of the dressing over the chicken and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. Drain the chicken of any remaining dressing. Mix the chicken with the chickpeas.
Arrange the chicken mixture on a decorative platter. Scatter the cheese, chopped chile, bell pepper, diced tomatoes, avocados and cilantro over the salad attractively and drizzle some of the remaining dressing on the top. Tuck lettuce leaves around the platter and serve.
Serves 6 to 8
Citrus Poppy Seed Chicken Salad
1 lb. smoked deli chicken, thickly sliced, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 or 2 firm-ripe mango, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 large can mandarin oranges, drained
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
lettuce leaves for serving
1 star fruit (carambola), cut horizontally into 1/4-inch slices for garnish (optional)
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted, for garnish
Place the chicken, mango cubes and mandarin orange sections in a large bowl. Sprinkle the avocado cubes with lemon juice and add them to the bowl.
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. grated onion
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. poppy seed
Mix together the sugar, dry mustard and salt in a medium-size bowl. Stir in the grated onion and two tablespoons of the vinegar, whisking until smooth. Gradually beat in the oil and the remaining vinegar. Add the poppy seed. Whisk until the dressing is smooth. You may also make this in a jar. Cover the jar and shake well before using.
Pour 1/2 cup of the dressing over the chicken mixture and toss gently but thoroughly. Add more dressing if the salad seems dry. Line a serving platter with the lettuce leaves. Mound the salad on the platter and garnish with slices of star fruit, if desired, and the toasted almonds.
Another attractive presentation is to serve the salad in hollowed-out avocado shells.
Serves 6 to 8
Hayday's Spicy Chicken Salad
4 boneless chicken breasts halves (or about 5 cups sliced cooked chicken)
1 bunch green onions, chopped, with part of the green tops
12 oz. vermicelli or other very thin pasta, cooked and drained
1/3 cup sesame seed, plus 2 Tbsp. for garnish, toasted
1/4 pound snow peas, fresh or frozen, trimmed and blanched
1/4 cup water chestnuts, sliced (optional)
1/4 cup unsalted cashews (optional)
romaine lettuce leaves for serving
Poach chicken breasts in boiling, salted water. When cool enough to handle, remove any bones, skin and fat and cut the breasts into 3/8-inch strips.
Place the strips in a large bowl. Add the green onions, vermicelli and 1/3 cup of the sesame seed. Toss gently.
1/4 tsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsp. tahini (ground sesame-seed paste; see notes)
3 Tbsp. Asian sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. tamari (see notes)
1 Tbsp. hot-chile oil
1/4 cup safflower oil
To make the dressing, in a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, tahini, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, tamari and hot chile oil. Slowly add the safflower oil, whisking well as you pour.
Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture and toss gently but thoroughly. (This is easily done with your hands.) Refrigerate the salad for up to 24 hours.
Just before serving, gently mix in the snow peas and the optional water chestnuts and cashews. Place the romaine on a large shallow platter and turn the salad out onto the lettuce. Garnish with the remaining two tablespoons toasted sesame seeds.
Serves 8 to 10