Happy Saturday everyone, It’s great to see you again! This week I want to focus on one of our family favorites: chicken salad. We pretty much always have some in the fridge. Alex likes to make chicken salad sandwiches, while I typically have it with crackers. It’s a perfect light lunch or dinner, especially in these dog days of summer.
I never follow a recipe for chicken salad, and I am sure you don’t need one either! Today, I will share with you my most recent chicken salad creation. It’s different every time I make it, so when I do one that Alex particularly likes, I have to try to remember what I put into it! Luckily for him, this time I have documentation of what went into it. Which is good, because he said this one was the best yet. So here’s how I make chicken salad.
Kelly’s (latest) Chicken Salad
We started this salad with leftover smoked chicken, which makes the best, most flavorful chicken salad. You can do that, or you can get a rotisserie chicken, or simply roast your chicken. Whatever leftover chicken you have will be great!
Smoked chicken skin will not be crispy, so lately, what I like to do is pull off all the skin and set it aside to make cracklins. Remove all the meat and pull it apart with your hands into good sized pieces – not too big, not too finely shredded. I find that if it’s too finely shredded, the salad overall gets a pasty-texture.
Prep Your Veggies
For all the weird stuff I might throw into a chicken salad, it always must contain celery. So we start there.
Today, I have diced red onion. I often go with green onions.
Then I have sliced pepperoncinis. They add a little heat, a soft texture and the right amount of acidic vinegar flavor to offset the richness of the mayo and the chicken.
Very simple dressing…mayo, dijon, Kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper and my special ingredient is herby green sauce. (Remember that? Chicken salad is a perfect use of this most versatile green sauce. You can find the recipe here.)
This dressing has no set ratios. One thing though, is that we don’t like our chicken salad to be swimming in mayo, so I am pretty conservative with it. Go by feel, start out with small amounts of mayo and dijon. Start mixing and tasting, adding more of either until it tastes good to you. Same with the herby green sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.
For reference, I am starting with about one and a half tablespoons of mayo and one tablespoon each of dijon and herby green sauce. Mix it all up and set it aside.
This is totally optional. But a nice way to put this chicken salad way over the top is to make some cracklins out of the chicken skin. I have about half an inch of vegetable oil in my dutch oven and once it’s around 350 degrees, drop in your skins. When they puff and crisp up, pull them out to drain on a paper towel. Once they’re cool, slice or chop them into smaller pieces. I won’t mix them into the salad because I want them to retain their crispy, crunchy texture. So instead, they will be a topping.
Serve the chicken salad as a sandwich, on toast or with crackers.
Alex opted for extra herby green sauce drizzled on his sandwich.
So there you have it – my latest (greatest) chicken salad. I have mentioned this before, but chicken salad is such a fun way to experiment with color, textures, salt, fat, and acid. Trying new and sometimes weird combinations will surprise you. Chicken salad is an easy, low risk thing to get creative with, mostly because you can use leftover chicken. And what’s more low risk than messing around with leftovers?
Get creative with your chicken salad! Here are some ideas for vegetable and seasoning additions:
Diced Red or Yellow Peppers
Shredded Red Cabbage
Diced Pickled Egg
Pickled Green Tomato
Pickled Red Onion Slices
Diced Avocado (as a topping!)
Fresh Lemon Juice or Slices of Lemon
Toasted Sunflower Seeds
Toasted Pine Nuts
Halved Cherry tomatoes
Fresh or Dried Thyme
Thanks everyone, I hope you enjoyed how I make chicken salad! Let me know how you do your chicken salad! Don’t forget you can find me on Instagram and Facebook too. Also, let me know if there is anything in particular you’d like to explore in this weekly column. Take care, be well, xo Kelly