Sunday, April 13, 2014

Liz's lemony chicken salad (and homemade broth with the leftover parts)

I'm always on the lookout for a relatively quick and healthy meal that can be made on a Sunday night and last me throughout the week for lunch. Chicken salad using a grocery-store rotisserie chicken is one of my most frequently made go-to meals. Typically I shred the meat by hand, then throw in your usual suspects for chicken salad (mayo, celery, salt & pepper, etc).

So when my friend Liz posted a recipe for lemony chicken salad with walnuts, apples and fresh tarragon, I knew that I had to try it. It's completely different from any chicken salad I've made (and definitely not something I would think of myself) but it was incredible. Light, fresh, bright, and bursting with flavor!

Perfect for a sandwich, with some hearty crackers, or on top of lettuce for a low-carb meal.
And yogurt in place of mayo makes it that much more healthy!
Usually I tell people to play around with recipes or to cut out a particular ingredient if they don't have it on hand, but in this case I'd highly recommend making it as-is the first time (you know, as long as you don't despise a certain ingredient or have a particular allergy). You might think to yourself that the apples aren't really necessary, but they kinda are. Ditto for the nuts and the fresh tarragon. The interplay of each ingredient is really key to this dish, and your taste buds will thank me.

Freshness in a bowl: apples, celery, red onion, walnuts, and chicken
Oh, and the second best part of this dish is that you can use the bones from the rotisserie chicken to make your own stock!!!

Just put all the skin and bones in a slow cooker, top with water (~5 cups for a single carcass), and throw in whatever else you have on hand. Ideally I like to add ~1 onion (cut into 4 parts), a few peppercorns, few cloves of smashed garlic, small handful of parsley/cilantro, 1-2 ribs of celery and 1-2 carrots. NO salt, as you should add salt to your broth after it's done. But if you don't have anything on hand that's OK too. The chicken by itself will still give you better stock than anything you'll buy at the grocery store.

Feel free to use the broth right away or freeze for later use. Two cups fit perfectly in a zip lock bag.

I hope the next time you're at the grocery store thinking to yourself "What the hell am I going to eat this week for lunch?" you remember this post and give it a try. I promise you, you won't be disappointed.

Buen Provecho,

Lemony chicken salad, slightly adapted from Floating Kitchen

Note: replace some or all of the mayo with Greek yogurt if you'd like to lighten this dish up a bit more. Personally I prefer full mayo versions with chicken salad, but both work well with this recipe.

Shredded chicken, from 1 rotisserie chicken (~3 cups cooked chicken if making it fresh)
1 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup apple, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
2-3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
3/4 to 1 cup light mayonnaise, more or less to taste (see note above)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

  • In a large bowl, combine the chicken and the next 5 ingredients (celery, onion, apple, nuts, tarragon). Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayo and the remaining ingredients (mustard, lemon juice, salt & pepper). 
  • Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture and toss gently until everything is well coated.
  • Serve immediately or let sit in the refrigerator to give the flavors some time to meld together.


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