Saturday, August 3, 2013

Turns out there a lot of things you can't make chicken salad from

You can't make chicken salad from chicken shit

                It’s summer, all I eat are whole meal salads and the foundation of any whole meal salad repertoire is chicken salad. Myriad variations on chicken, some additions and a dressing.
                Browsing food blogs and cooking sites, I cut and paste nearly every chicken salad recipe I come across. Or every one that doesn’t ask for miracle whip, cans of sweetened fruit or tomatillos. Tomatillos are everywhere this time of year and my one experiment with them years ago has turned me off them forever. I don’t recall exactly what went wrong, but like any serious trauma, I instinctively avoid the culprit.
                This is my week of chicken salads.
                Monday-   Chicken Club Salad from Martha Stewart.  This was OK, but not repeatable. Nancy Silverton in Twist of the Wrist has a chicken salad with avocado and bacon that is far superior.

                Tuesday- Chicken and Chutney salad. Also from Martha and also ok but not repeatable. Any curried chicken salad is going to be nearly as easy and much more tasty. To be fair, I used my home made kefir instead of the sour cream, and that probably hurt.

                Wednesday- Chicken, Chick Pea and Pesto salad. Yuck. The flavors and textures work at cross purposes and the result resembles something that might have been served at the Eco-House at some small, liberal arts college, having been prepared by a freshman from Larchmont who was so distracted by his glorious new tie dye and the pain in his recently pierced and infected ear lobe, that he failed to notice that these ingredients are meant for three separate dishes.  I managed to finish one small bowl and then rinsed the pesto off, fed the chicken to the dogs, and discarded the rest.
                Thursday- Asian Chicken Salad with Wasabi Dressing. I couldn’t eat it. I tasted the dressing before finishing the salad and threw it all away. This could be the stuff you dip your finger in and then offer to your child in an attempt to dissuade him from biting.
                Friday- Curried Smoked Chicken Salad with Wild Rice. Discouraged by my week of experimenting, I returned to an old fave. I have made this a number of times and here are my adaptations. Short grain brown rice instead of wild rice. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of smoked chicken, more chutney, more raisins and about half the oil. Now that I am trying to eat whole grains a few times a week, this one is back in the rotation and I couldn’t be happier. It is the kind of thing I can keep eating long after I am technically full
                Saturday- Larb Chicken Salad. Found on Epicurious, I altered the recipe somewhat, doubled it and served it to friends. It was a hit.
                Sunday- Hamburgers. On the seventh day, they rested.

Larb Chicken salad

Yield: Serves 4-6
  • 1 1/3  cup fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 TB  chili-garlic sauce

  • 3 pounds ground chicken and or turkey
  • 1 ½  cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced Thai chilies or serrano chilies
  • 1cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1cup chopped fresh mint leaves

  • Mixed greens, Asian greens or baby cooking greens
  • Olive oil

Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl to blend; reserve sauce.

Cook the ground chicken over medium high heat until cooked through, breaking up meat with spoon. Add green onions, shallots and chili pepper. Stir until vegetables are tender and most of liquid has evaporated, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in sauce. 

Right before serving, stir in the cilantro and mint.

Toss the greens with a good dousing of olive oil, enough to well coat the leaves, and then toss these greens into the chicken.