Full credit for this delicious chicken salad has to go directly to my mom. It’s her chicken salad recipe and she’s pretty famous for it. When she started making this I remember her using her blender to shred the chicken little bits at a time. It took forever. Later that year was the Christmas she got a food processor. Mostly because the whole family wanted chicken salad and we didn’t want to have to wait on it. To this day she can be overheard referring to her food processor as her “chicken salad maker”. I’m pretty sure it’s the only thing she uses it for.
I’m actually not sure if she’s going to be super pissed because I’ve shared the recipe today with all of you, but I’m going to take that chance…mostly because she lives 3 states away and out of smacking reach. She’s got a helluva backhand. Also, because it’s summer time and everyone deserves the chance to eat these chicken salad sandwiches out of a cooler on the beach of your choice. It’s the perfect picnic food. You’re welcome.
For the poaching liquid:
- Bay Leaves
For the salad:
- Poached chicken breasts
- Garlic Powder
- Black Pepper
I used this entire 1.5 lb package of chicken breasts when I made this batch and it made what I can only measure as a “SHIT TON” of chicken salad. So if you make this much, be prepared to eat chicken salad at every meal for about a week. Or just be a normal person and make less. The measurements in this particular salad aren’t actually that important, just figure out a reasonable ratio and run with it. I believe in you.
The first thing you must do is to create the perfect poaching liquid for your chicken breasts. Poaching is simply cooking something in a simmering liquid of your choice. Not boiling. Simmering. Think: low boil or slow bubble. I like to prepare the liquid and let it simmer for a 20-30 minutes before I add the chicken in this recipe, just to be sure the water has taken on the full flavor of everything you’ve added. Here’s how I do it:
To a large skillet I added a big handful of baby carrots (that had admittedly seen better days but were still ok to use for poaching), the tops and bottoms of a bunch of celery, a big handful of fresh parsley, a halved lemon–juice squeezed in, one quartered onion, and a palmful of both kosher salt and whole peppercorns. Let that come to slow boil for about 20-30 minutes to really get the flavor out of the veggies then you’re good to go.
Now add the chicken breasts.
Bring it back up to a simmer and let that poach, covered, for about 20-25 minutes or until you can see no more pink in the thickest part of the breast when you slice it with a knife.
It’ll look white and boring like boiled chicken. That’s because it is legit what it is. In the end it will taste delicious. Trust me.
Now clean all the weird shit off of the breasts. Any gross fatty pieces or gummy ass ligament stuff has gots to go. Bye Felicia. Chop the chicken into manageable pieces and add them to your food processor aka chicken salad maker.
Now give that a whirl. You’re literally going for the tiniest shreds you can get. Completely toe’ up. Just when you think it’s small enough, pulse it a few more times to show it you didn’t come to play.
Here’s what it should like when you’re all said and done:
Now while your chicken was poaching, you were super smart and chopped up your veggies for the chicken salad. You need 1 onion and about 6 stalks of celery for 3 breasts, so adjust your ratio accordingly for however much you’re making. Here’s the big secret to this recipe according to Mom: everything has to be chopped super duper tiny. Like freaking microscopic. But you can’t use your chicken salad maker to do it. It has to be hand chopped for some ungodly reason. The shitty thing is, she’s right. A food processor will almost liquify the veggies and won’t chop them uniformly enough. It really does have to be done by hand. Don’t be a lazy asshole.
Now mix these tiny chopped vegetables with your pulverized chicken and add some mayo. I’m guessing I used about 1+ cups for this batch. Basically, you want to use enough mayo that it holds together tightly but not so much that it’s mayonaissey, get my drift? So just a bit at a time and stir it in until it feels right. I added this much at first and then started stirring.
Then I added another spoonful and the seasonings and it was perfect.
For seasoning I like to add black pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne…salt only if needed. Mayo can be salty sometimes so check to be sure.
I think the cayenne is important. It won’t be too spicy, but it will add a tiny kick. You won’t regret it. Don’t be a pussy.
Now, all that’s left to do is decide how to enjoy the perfect chicken salad you’ve just made. I like it on toast, crackers, pretzel chips, veggie chips, or on green salad. Most of the time, I just eat it with a fork out of the bowl standing in front of an open refrigerator door if I’m being completely honest, however. I do hope, for your sake, that you get the chance to enjoy it out of a cooler on the beach at least a couple of days this summer!
However you enjoy it, be sure to give full credit to my mom when anyone asks about the recipe. She is a sweet lady but she’s definitely not too proud to smack the shit of you. I warned you about that backhand.