01 October 2007

Face Off: Chicken Salad

Ah, the time-honored Face Off. This will probably be at least a once-weekly thing for the next month or so. I am hosting my very dear friend's bridal shower, and I'm trying out different recipes to use. The first one into the ring: Chicken Salad. And now, the results.

Chicken with Nectarines and Pecans

First up was a sweet chicken salad. Once, when I was in Atlanta, I ate at Dailey's and that place has the most amazing chicken salad I've ever tasted. It was served with fruit, and then drizzled in a sweet (brown sugar?) glaze and sprinkled with pecans. Sooooo good. I set out to find a recipe that might be similar, and found one at epicurious.com to be the closest to what I wanted to accomplish.

I switched out the peaches in the recipe for nectarines, and used pecans instead of walnuts. The resulting chicken salad was a disappointment, however. The nectarine and pecans were completely overpowered by the poppy seed dressing (that you use instead of mayo). And even with no mayo, the chicken salad tasted STRONGLY of mayonnaise. And the bride-to-be hates mayonnaise, so yeah. That recipe's a bust.

Traditional Chicken Salad

On to the classic, traditional chicken salad/tea sandwich recipe. Also from epicurious.com, it featured fresh tarragon and smoked almonds, plus some nice lettuce on top for crunch. And while it wasn't bad in any way, it also wasn't great. Nothing to brag about, just kinda blah. Will do in a pinch. So, on we move to the final contender...

Curried Chicken Salad

This was by far the best chicken salad sampled, which was kinda depressing. Not because I don't love it (I do, in fact, love this recipe very much). It's that I've made this several times, for home and office and potluck. Heck, I even requested it at my own bridal shower. It's an easy recipe to make in large quantities, can be made well ahead of time, and tastes amazing. It's just that, you know, I wanted to try something new and different and exciting. Sigh.

Recipe is below, we'll only give the winning one for this post. I found the recipe off of foodtv.com, and I recommend giving it a try. Even if you aren't too fond of curry. The curry seems really light in this recipe, and totally masks any of that "mayo" taste (hear that, Nik?). The crunchy almonds and grapes and celery give it a wonderful crunch. The chutney is the real star of this recipe, though. It gives this lovely sweet/spicy kick to the whole thing.

Curried Chicken Salad

2 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. commercial chutney
3 Tbsp. mild curry powder
6 bone-in chicken breasts
Salt and black pepper
1/2 c. slivered almonds
1/2 c. grapes, sliced in half or quartered
3/4 c. finely chopped celery
4 croissants

To make the dressing: Combine the mayonnaise with the chutney and the curry powder in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.

To prepare the sandwiches: Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper then put them in a large skillet. Add water to cover. Put a lid on the skillet and simmer the chicken until it is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
When the chicken is chilled remove the skin and cut the meat from the bones. Dice the meat and place it in a large bowl. Add the almonds, grapes, and celery and mix well. Moisten the salad with the curry dressing. Cut the croissants in half. Fill each with chicken salad and serve.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Nemmie you take great photos!!