Recipes and Me

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tarragon Chicken Salad

Tarragon Chicken Salad

1 Rotisserie Chicken (typically 2 pounds or so)
½ cup mayo
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Splash of fresh lemon juice (squeezed from ½ lemon)
1-2 stalks diced celery (depending on your love of celery)
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup walnuts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
Kosher salt
Fresh Black pepper

I love that time of spring when herbs have all peeked out of the garden and you can start dreaming up all the possibilities for things you’ll try or create this season.  I anxiously await that day when I can go into the garden and start clipping away at my favorite herbs.  Tarragon is one of the herbs I grow in my garden and for me it’s synonymous with spring.  It’s a fantastic companion for lighter dishes with seafood, eggs, and vegetables.  Tarragon and chicken also make a very happy couple.  I’ve always loved chicken salad and over the years I’ve played around with a number of different versions.  At a sandwich shop I once had a chicken salad sandwich with tarragon on Ciabatta bread and it was delicious.  It had an incredible taste and the tarragon really boosted the entire flavor of the salad.  I clearly remember leaving a very clean plate behind. 

This recipe is inspired by the lunch I enjoyed that day.  I love the combination of crunchy versus smooth so I’ve included celery and walnuts but as I always say, this recipe is for you so don’t be afraid to take liberties.  If there’s something you’d like to try in the salad, throw it in and see what happens.  If you like almonds better than walnuts, try slivered almonds perhaps.  You may decide that was a good decision or a bad one but at least it will inform your creativity and desire to take chances in the kitchen and that’s what counts!

If you’ve just bought the rotisserie chicken, let it cool off for a bit. If you cut it while it’s still hot, it will prove to be a very difficult task.  Cut the rotisserie chicken, removing the legs, wings, and cutting off the breasts and thighs.  Remove the skin as well.  The great thing about rotisserie chicken is that the style of cooking allows so much flavor to permeate the meat so you won’t miss the skin at all.  Cut the chicken pieces into nice sized chunks, ½ to 1 inch depending on how chunky you like your salad.  Put the chicken chunks into a large bowl.   Add the mayo, Dijon mustard, and fresh squeezed lemon juice.  Stir the wet ingredients in the bowl just a little bit to mix them all together.  Add the cranberries, walnuts, diced celery, and chopped fresh tarragon.  Stir everything together.  Taste and add a sprinkle of salt, as needed (I find the rotisserie chicken is typically pretty salty so I don’t need to add more than a sprinkle of kosher salt to the mixture), and cracked black pepper.  Give the mixture a final stir and then store in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight.  This salad tastes even better the second day!

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