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Friday, August 23, 2013
Chicken salad is one of those things that everyone does differently. A local grocery store here makes fresh chicken salad in their deli with roasted red peppers, Nana makes hers with hard boiled eggs, and my Grandmother's recipe calls for chopped sweet gherkins and pickle juice instead of relish. Arby's chicken salad has nuts and grapes in it and some other restaurants even add chopped apples, dill relish, grated carrots, or black olives.
This is an original recipe because I make what I like to eat. I don't care for eggs in mine and of course I won't use onions. I'm not all that fond of fruit or nuts in it most of the time, and I don't think dill relish was really meant for chicken salad. I used to make a version with carrots and black olives myself. It was one of my favorite recipes, but the main reason I used it was because I never had celery or relish around.
I like my chicken salad slightly sweet with a crunch and a bit wet. I usually use Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise because it's what Mom always buys. In fact, I made some chicken salad for a baby shower last May and couldn't get the right sweetness in it. Then I remembered that I had made it with mayonnaise instead of Miracle Whip because it was for guests and felt like a complete moron.
The measurements are not exact in this recipe. I tried to get them as close as possible, but mostly this recipe is just one of those taste-it-until-it-tastes-right kind of recipes. I have a few notes before we get started:
1) I use celery salt in my recipe. If you do not have celery salt it's not important to go out and buy it. As long as you have the chopped celery you won't really be missing any flavor.
2) Make sure to take into account any seasonings on the chicken itself before adding spices or seasonings to your chicken salad. I've made this with leftover rotisserie chicken before and ended up way overloaded on garlic salt.
3) The flavors are better the longer the chicken salad sits in the fridge. I like to make it the night before and leave it in the fridge overnight.
Otherwise, get in the kitchen and have some fun with this recipe. Make it your own and serve it however you like it.
1 1/2-2 cups cooked chicken, cooled (about 1 1/2 chicken breasts)
1/3 cup celery, chopped (about 1-2 pieces)
1/2 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish (or you can dice some sweet baby gherkins up)
1 tsp yellow mustard or dijon mustard
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder (if you're not using celery salt you can substitute 1/4 tsp garlic salt)
fresh ground pepper to taste
Chop or shred your chicken and put it in a smallish mixing bowl or a 4-cup or larger storage container. I like to chop my chicken pretty small. You'll understand why when I get to the serving suggestions.
Add the chopped celery.
Add the mayonnaise, relish, mustard, celery salt, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder. (You can actually mix these together in a separate bowl to ensure the spices are well combined, but I think it's a bit unnecessary.)
Stir to combine.
Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. I would definitely add the pepper even if it doesn't need salt. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.
Serve on bread or toast as sandwiches, make tiny croissant sandwiches with some sliced mini croissants from the bakery, eat with crackers, or serve plain with a fork. Personally I like to eat mine on celery sticks, which is why I like the chicken diced small enough to fit inside the celery.