My wife gets and deserves all the credit for this one. One day I asked her to make some chicken salad with the leftover chicken breasts that I hadn’t used the night before. When I came back from work, she had prepared this exact recipe using only what we had in the house. This was far and away the greatest chicken salad I had ever tasted, and the next day, the flavor got even better. This is something that makes you legen – wait for it – dary (I’ve recently gotten hooked on How I Met Your Mother reruns) when unveiled at a family gathering, picnic, or anywhere that people gather.
The key to this entire dish is the sauteed onions that are allowed to cool and poaching the chicken breasts in chicken stock and vegetables. You could easily substitute a rotisserie chicken if you are short on time, but you should skip to step 2 if you choose to do so.
Ingredients (serves 4 lunch portions)
- 2 chicken breasts
- 2 stalk celery, diced
- 2 carrots
- 1 large onion (half diced, half quartered)
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 3 c chicken stock
- 1 c red seedless grapes, halved
- 1/2 c mayonnaise
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 3/4 tsp fresh tarragon (substitute 1/3 tsp dried)
- 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/4c chopped walnuts (optional)
1. Place the chicken breasts, 1 half of the onion (quartered), 1 stalk of celery (chopped), the carrots, chicken stock, and a handful of parsley in a stock pot. The chicken stock should just cover the chicken breasts. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. Cook covered for 10 – 15 minutes.
2. Remove the chicken breasts to a cutting board and let cool. When cool enough to handle, cut into bite sized pieces.
3. While the chicken is cooling, dice the second half of the onion. Place a saute pan over medium high heat and place the onion with a couple tbsp of olive oil inside. Saute until translucent. Put the onions in a bowl and place in the freezer for 5 – 10 minutes.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and dijon mustard until just combined.
5. Place the bite sized chicken breasts, chilled onions, 1 stalk of diced celery, and tarragon in a large bowl. Pour in 3/4 of the dressing and mix to combine. If the mixture needs more dressing, add it to taste. Finishing by adding the grapes and walnuts and combine all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least 4 hours (overnight if possible).
6. Serve cold on lettuce cups, inside a sandwich, or however you like your chicken salad. Garnish with whole walnuts.