Here's a wonderful fruit-packed version of chicken salad from Marjorie Druker, chef, and co-owner of the New England Soup Factory located in the Boston area. Fresh cherries and Vidalia onions make this chicken salad the perfect sandwich filling. Or serve on a bed of lettuce sprinkled with some walnuts or pecans for a nice lunch.
This chicken salad recipe calls for poaching chicken breasts. If you're in a hurry, though, you can easily substitute roast chicken or even rotisserie chicken from the supermarket!
- For the Poached Chicken:
- 1 1/4 pounds chicken breasts (skinless, boneless)
- 1 rib celery (cut in half)
- 1/2 onion (peeled)
- 1 slice lemon
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon salt (kosher)
- For the Salad:
- 1 cup pecans (halves; toasted)
- Poached chicken (from recipe) cut into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 cup onion (Vidalia, diced)
- 1 rib celery (diced small)
- 1/2 pound cherries (fresh, pitted)
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- salt to taste (kosher)
- black pepper to taste
For the poached chicken:
- Place the chicken in a 4 to 6-quart pot.
- Add enough cold water to cover the chicken by 1 inch.
- Add the celery, onion, lemon slice, bay leaf, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove chicken from the pot.
- Cool completely and chop before making the salad.
For the salad:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
- Place the pecans in a single layer on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, removing once to stir, until fragrant and toasted. Watch carefully to avoid burning.
- In a medium mixing bowl place the chicken, onion, celery, cherries, and pecans. Add mayonnaise and gently stir so that all contents are lightly covered in mayonnaise.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
A note from Marjorie: Removing pits from cherries is undeniably tedious, but a cherry pitter (found at most kitchen supply stores) makes the job more tolerable. You’ll end up with mushed fruit and stained fingers if you attempt to do it all by hand. For a shortcut, use oven-roasted chicken (even one purchased at the supermarket) instead of poaching the breast yourself.
Reprinted from New England Soup Factory Cookbook: More Than 100 Recipes from the Nation’s Best Purveyor of Fine Soup by Marjorie Druker (Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2007). (Buy from Amazon)