My Mum’s Chicken Salad
This is probably the least cool post I have ever had on my tumblr, which is saying a lot, because approximately half the posts on my tumblr are objectively uncool. First, it’s about chicken salad. Second, it’s my mum’s chicken salad recipe, not even some newfangled hipster chicken salad with sriracha. Third, it’s illustrated with what turns out to be a blurry phone photo so it’s hard to get much detail beyond it looking like a lumpy beige mass. Fourth, the key cooking technique here is poaching, which you would be surprised still exists as a legitimate way of rendering meats edible given the amount of media coverage it gets.
While the rest of you are grilling shit I’m just going to be over here gently simmering my skinless boneless chicken breasts in water, thanks.
It’s really good chicken salad, though. Fantastic in a sandwich, but also great on its own.
And here’s the deal on poaching: it’s super uncool, but it’s a great for things like chicken salad, because the meat comes out evenly cooked and really moist.
My mum wrote out this recipe for me at some point when I was in college and she was worried about my being able to feed myself (not an unfair concern: there was a year or so when I subsisted on frozen peas, carrots and dip, takeout from a nearby Japanese restaurant, toast with taramasalata and tomatoes, and ice cream. And vodka cranberries. I weighed less in college.)
Poach the Chicken
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- (optional: 1/2 an onion, chopped; 1 carrot, cut up; 1 stalk celery, cut up; some parsley)
Combine the chicken and any of the aromatics in a pan. Cover with water. Cook slowly at a simmer until the chicken is somewhat resistant when pressed— it will continue to cook a bit once you take it off the heat— take off heat and let cool in broth.
- Poached chicken
- 2 cups seedless grapes, cut in half (my mum does not specify that the grapes have to be cut in half, but they always are, and it really dramatically improves the salad-eating experience)
- 1/2 - 1 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 - 1 cup thinly sliced celery
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon curry powder (or to taste)
- salt and pepper
(This, by the way, is where my mum’s recipe ends, because while I think she didn’t want me to starve, it was also beyond her ability to imagine that I couldn’t figure out the next steps on my own. This is the same reason my grandmother’s pie crust recipe includes only a very rough list of ingredients.)
Combine the dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Cut up or shred the chicken. Add the chicken and salad ingredients to the dressing and toss to coat.