Picnic Chicken Salad
The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, August 20th 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman
Chicken Salad is Perfect Picnic Food
I find that some of the most perfect picnic weather days are those days that are towards the end of summer and the beginning of fall. The weather is not too hot, or sticky. Not too humid or overcast either. The days are getting shorter but there is still just enough daylight time to get what you want to get done accomplished. I find that from about the middle of August until the end of September to be the perfect time, in Indiana anyways, for an outdoor get-together, a reunion or a picnic. Just the word “picnic” gets me thinking about little cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, fruit salads, lemonade, cold salads and icebox desserts. In my cookbook I have several recipes for cold salads, and more than one for chicken salad. Between my Mom, Darla, my Grandma Deloris and my Grandma Barbra, I am not sure who is the biggest chicken salad fan. Perhaps that is where I got my love for this classic cold salad?
When I was developing this recipe I wanted to make a chicken salad that had the things I like best inside. I am not that big of an onion fan, nor of boiled eggs or celery when it comes to my chicken salads. I prefer green grapes, toasted nuts and a combination of mayonnaise and sour cream. My friend and neighbor Jan Lines said that she preferred diced pineapple in her chicken salad, which does not sound bad! My Grandma Barbra always makes hers with a roasted chicken and my Mom usually makes hers with a mayonnaise combination. My Grandma Deloris uses salad dressing instead of mayonnaise and I have found that I like roasting chicken breasts in the oven to start off my salad. All in all, everybody makes a different salad and there are really no rules when it comes to making it, but the following is my recipe and my rules and I hope you will enjoy and serve this at your next picnic!
Picnic Chicken Salad
I like eating my chicken salad with saltine crackers but feel free to eat your chicken salad on bread, buns or even just a spoon! Tarragon brings out the flavor of chicken in cold salads so feel free to use about a rough teaspoon of the chopped herb in your salad. Also experiment with the type of grape and use red or purple if desired.
2 large chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup chopped pecans
¾ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
½ cup green grapes, halved
Start by cooking the chicken breasts. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken breasts skin side up on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Bake in preheated oven for exactly 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Remove the skin and cut the meat away from the bone. Chop into large chunks.
In a medium sized skillet, toast the chopped walnuts and chopped pecans over medium heat for about 3 minutes being careful not to burn the nuts.
In a medium sized bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream and sweet pickle relish.
In a large bowl combine the prepared chicken, toasted nuts and mayonnaise mixture. Carefully fold in the prepared green grapes. Taste. Salt and pepper to your tastes.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Serve and keep chilled.
Ask and Answer: I received an email from someone asking if I had a recipe for egg salad. I wrote her back and she said the recipe was the best she had ever had. I thought since the theme of this week’s column was picnic – I would share it here! Start with 1 dozen boiled eggs. Mash eggs in a large bowl with a potato masher. Add in 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons black pepper. Add ¾ cup mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons yellow squirt mustard, 1 tablespoon spicy squirt mustard, 2 teaspoons pickle juice and 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar. Stir to combine. Sprinkle on top combination of smoked paprika, fine sea salt and garlic powder. Store and serve chilled.