Chicken Salad !
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Chicken Salad !

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One of my favorite summer recipes is a curried chicken salad from famed household chef Ina Garten. Easy to make and full of varied textures and lively flavors, her chicken salad is the perfect dish for a light lunch, picnic meal or casual dinner.

The salad has a memorable history. When she opened what would become her famous East Hampton specialty food shop, The Barefoot Contessa, she displayed a group of fancy, perfectly roasted whole chickens which sat on the counter with no customer interest. After waiting a couple of days, a worried moment of panic set in. The roast chickens were going to be wasted if they didn’t sell, along with lost profits!

In a moment of inspiration, she grabbed all the chickens from the display, took them back in the shop kitchen and rough chopped them. Whipping up a curry dressing she mixed it with the chicken and added celery, raisins and roasted cashews.

The final element that made it irresistible was packing scoops of salad into some gingham printed paper cones that she had on hand. And within a matter of hours, the cones flew out the door (so to speak!) as happy customers were delighted with the charming packaging.

Not only did she learn a valuable lesson from the experience about what her customers wanted but the inspired recipe is still a hit today and well worth making.

I like it served cold over a bed of baby lettuces but it also works well at room temperature in a sandwich of crusty bread or plain with a side of soup.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients

3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on

Olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups good mayonnaise (recommended: Hellman’s)

1/3 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup chutney (recommended: Major Grey’s)

3 tablespoons curry powder

1 cup medium-diced celery (2 large stalks)

1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)

1/4 cup raisins

1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and dice the chicken into large bite-size pieces.
  3. For the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, wine, chutney, curry powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until smooth.
  4. Combine the chicken with enough dressing to moisten well. Add the celery, scallions, and raisins, and mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Add the cashews and serve at room temperature.

This is definitely a go-to recipe that is easy, tasty and looks rather lovely as well when plated. What more could you ask of chicken salad?

Special Note: Thank you to foodnetwork.com for the title image!

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