Chicken salad recipes are like opinions – everyone's got one. Seriously. Everyone has one on their blog it seems. So when I threw this recipe together the other day for lunch, even though it was DELICIOUS, I was kinda of "meh" about putting it up because…well…it's JUST chicken salad, after all.
Here's the thing, though: Chicken salad is one of those things that is either AWESOME or SUCKY. I have rarely met a chicken salad that I tried and said "Yeah, it's ok". Nothing bums me out more than a really smooth, almost pureed version of chicken salad. Add to that some sort of pickle/relish type thing …and you might as well make tuna salad
Fabulous chicken salad, for me, has lots of tooth and texture. Crunchy bits and pulled shreds of chicken. Layers of flavors and texture. Great "staple" recipes can be anything but boring. Using half of a roasted chicken from dinner the night before, I roughly tore it off the bone and threw it in a bowl with lemon, celery (which I seem to be on a peacemaking effort with), red onion, lemon, and – chicken's best friend – tarragon. I use just enough mayonnaise to keep it together without making it soupy. You can adjust to your liking if you like it "wetter". Slap this on some hearty bread with crisp lettuce or pepper arugula and you'll swoon.
My-Version-of-Perfect Chicken Salad – makes enough for 6 to 8 sandwiches
– Combine chicken, celery, red onion, lemon zest, chili flakes and tarragon in a large mixing bowl. Stir together so items are well mixed. In small separate bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and lemon juice until combined. If you want a thinner texture, add more lemon juice. Stir into chicken mixture. Taste it at this point and salt and pepper to your liking. I think chicken salad tastes better after the flavors are allowed to mingle a bit so I covered the bowl and refrigerated it for 30 minutes. Keep stored in fridge in tightly sealed container if not eating right away.