Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Summer Staple: Chicken Salad

During the high heat of summer, you can count on two things to be served at my family's table: garden-fresh tomato sandwiches and homemade chicken salad. While the tomato plants, at least in my part of the country, are still tender and young, nothing is stopping me from kicking off my summer with a yummy chicken salad sandwich.

Here's the recipe, straight from my mama's kitchen to mine to yours. I love this recipe because its simple, easy, and yummy. Plus, it makes enough to provide my lunches for a few days.

Warning: Southern recipes are rarely exact. We tend to use measurements like "a pinch," "about half," and "a few." In our world, eyeballin' it replaces measuring cups.

2 chicken breasts (frozen or thawed)
white onion
salt and pepper
white wine (optional)


1. Place chicken breasts in a pot. This one picture is about 4 qts...or so it says on the botom. Fill with water until breasts are just covered. I use water filtered through my Brita filter, just because I live in the city and am freaky-teaky paranoid about water.

2. Bring to a boil. Once the water starts to boil, let it continue for about 30-40 minutes. If you wish, you can add a splash of white wine in this step.
A little trick: place a wooden spoon over the pot to avoid boil-over. I truthfully don't know why this works. A friend suggested it, and, ever the skeptic, I had to put it to the test. It worked... I still don't know why.

3. While your chicken is cooking, chop your celery and onions. I use a few celery stalks and about half an onion. I dice them using my Kitchen-Aid chopper, but if you've got some mad knife skills, go for it. I just prefer to keep my fingers intact. Set aside when finished (the celery and onion...not your fingers.)

4. Once your chicken is cooked, set aside on a plate. Allow to cool for a few minutes so you don't burn your fingers when you shred it. Once cooled enough that you don't yelp every time you touch it, shred finely.

5. In a medium sized bowl, combine chicken, onions, and celery. Add mayonnaise. I try to use either light mayo or olive oil mayo. This serves no other purpose than making me feel less guilty about gobbing mayo into a bowl. (Use about a half cup). Mix well. Add more mayo until you reach your desired chicken -salad- consistency. Add a pinch of salt. Season liberally with pepper.

6. Spread on some toasted bread and enjoy! I usually toss a fresh cayenne pepper onto my plate--but to each her own.

I'll try to share more summer recipes in the coming weeks!
In the meantime, what's your favorite summer dish?

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