all in the mix October 6, 2009

ChickSalad 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

  • 4 cups chopped or pulled chicken – I used leftover roasted chicken. Feel free to use a rotisserie chicken from the store or cooked-by-you chicken breasts.
  • 2 large ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/8 tablespoon dried red chili flakes (yes, i use them in everything)
  • 3 large sprigs tarragon, leaves removed from stems and roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp. good quality mayonnaise (you can use homemade if you'd like. i think it's too thin for this application so I use Duke's)
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

– 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. 


Patti Davis Oct 6, 2009 06:10 am

Chicken salad is my favorite food. Well….good chicken salad (like yours). Can’t wait to make your version!

Ben Frank from I Ate That! Oct 6, 2009 08:10 am

you are so right about the vast amounts of recipes for chicken salad. when i first installed the epicurious app on my iphone i was testing out the search function and just typed “chicken.” 97% of teh returns were for chicken salad. but i really must say, this sounds great, flavor-wise. i too like my chicken salad chunkier. but i really am not a fan of celery as i would assume you haven’t been with your “peacemaking effort with celery.”

tami Oct 6, 2009 08:10 am

Patti- great chicken salad is next to godliness! :)

tami Oct 6, 2009 08:10 am

Yeah…every single blog I’ve been to, I think, had a chicken salad recipe…regardless of the focus of blog (ethnic, etc.) So many options.
Yes. I hate celery now only slightly less than carrots and way less than those nasty evil green peppers. Baby steps :)

Sam Lehman Oct 6, 2009 10:10 am

That was truly excellent chicken salad; I tend to agree that CS is either great or lame. I did, however, skip the celery. Can’t do it.

tami Oct 6, 2009 04:10 pm

It’s nice to know that celery is as alienating for others as it was for me. :)
– t*

Hailey Hodges Oct 7, 2009 05:10 pm

Tami, I was just reading Use Real Butter, and she mentioned your $30.00 a week challenge – I would love to learn more! By the way, your blog is beautiful.

tami Oct 8, 2009 04:10 am

I will be posting all about it tomorrow AM on the blog. In the meantime, you can check this post out. It works pretty much like it did the first round:
thanks for the nice words about the blog :)
– tami

TheWoman Oct 14, 2009 02:10 am

Your version looks pretty perfect. I also can’t stand those overly soupy mayo-ey (is that a word?) ones.