For me, chicken salad is one of life’s happy foods. It’s an all-purpose classic. Perfect for a lunch out with the girls, the menu for a luncheon, or a wedding shower, chicken salad offers homey comfort, too. It’s my reward for wrapping up the week’s grocery shopping. I order a mound of creamy chicken salad from the deli counter almost weekly. In a way, it’s a badge of accomplishment.
Ever since the world has turned topsy-turvy thanks to COVID-19, my rambling excursions to the grocery store are off the schedule, for the moment.
Instead, my grocery excursions have become vicarious ones. For the first time ever, I ordered online, hunting, pecking, and scrolling through a labyrinth of options at my local King Soopers. I discovered foods I’d never known existed, so of course, I threw those into my cart. Now, if ever, is the time to experiment and play with our food.
But I miss the deli’s chicken salad. By its very existence, it becomes an eloquent statement of self-satisfaction. It’s a statement that I have made it through yet another Tuesday’s worth of hunting and gathering. The salad in and of itself is simplistic. It’s the association that defines eating it that makes memories of it all that more poignant.
The key to creating creamy chicken salad like you’ll find in a deli is to finely shred it. Use the paddle on a KitchenAid mixer to break apart the meat. You can use poached chicken breasts or rotisserie chicken from the deli. If you’re poaching the chicken, let it cool before shredding.
Make My Favorite Chicken Salad Recipe
- 4 boneless chicken breasts (either raw or rotisserie chicken from your deli counter, if available), about 1 1/2 pounds
- 2 stalks celery, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
- 4 scallions, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon or dill weed
- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
Fill large skillet with water and add chicken breasts, making sure to cover with liquid. Bring water to boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink throughout. Let cool until you can safely touch it without scalding yourself. Remove chicken to cutting board and cool. Note: If using rotisserie chicken breasts, move on to next step without cooking chicken.
Cut each chicken breast into 3 pieces. Place in KitchenAid mixing bowl. Fit mixer with paddle attachment. Mix at low speed for 2 minutes until chicken is shredded evenly but isn’t pulpy. Place shredded chicken in large clean bowl.
Add celery, scallions, and dried herbs to bowl with chicken.
In small bowl, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, and mustard. Fold dressing into chicken mixture, stirring until ingredients have a creamy consistency.
Serve over a bed of greens and cherry tomatoes dressed with Italian vinaigrette, if desired.
Recipe serves 4-6.