WHY, oh why is the mushed and molded combination of chicken, fruits, nuts, and vegetables called chicken salad? Is it because of the mayonnaise? It's misleading to me, for when someone tells me they're going to serve chicken salad, I don't necessarily know whether I should expect a bed of greens with grilled chicken sitting atop it or the aforementioned mixture. Methinks a distinction is needed.
Muddled chicken? Chicken mishmash? Potpourri of chicken? I dunno, but someone should come up with something. I guess the same applies to tuna salad, egg salad, and ham salad. For some reason, I'm okay with potato salad, perhaps because no meat is involved (unless it's a really good potato salad and there's bacon in it...).
You all already know that I take issue with the names of many foods, but what really matters in the end is the taste. This is a marvelous version of a lunch classic. One of the best things about it is its adaptability--if you don't have any craisins, raisins or fresh grapes would be just fine. Basil too expensive right now? No problem! Use parsley or cilantro. A pear can easily replace the apple and walnuts are just as tasty as pecans. Personalization is fun!
So I'm starting off 2013 with a relatively nutritious recipe. Don't get used to it.
Potpourri of Chicken
Makes about 6 servings
- 4 cups shredded poached chicken
- 1 stalk celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped in a small dice
- 1 cup pecans, chopped
- 1/2 cup craisins
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
- 1 cup mayonnaise, or more or less to achieve desired consistency
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
In a mixing bowl, toss together the chicken, celery, scallions, apple, pecans, craisins, and basil. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper to taste. Add to the chicken and mix gently until combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.