Chicken salad cook-off

I am catering a baby shower for a friend on Saturday.  The main event will be chicken salad in lettuce cups.  Although I’ve made chicken salad many times before, I wanted to be sure that I liked the product before I served it in “prime time”.  I did a little research in my collection of cookbooks and settled on three variations I wanted to try.  ( I eliminated Chinese chicken salad recipes and curried chicken salad as I know the hostess wasn’t interested in either of those.)  I selected three options to try and fixed them for my husband for dinner tonight.   For my research, I deliberately selected cookbooks written by caterers or individuals who have operated specialty food stores.  Their recipes are tried and true crowd pleasers and I have confidence that they will adapt well when the quantities are increased. 

The cookbooks I selected were The Nantucket Open-House Cookbook by Sarah Leah Chase, The Silver Palate by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins and barefoot contessa: how easy is that?by Ina Garten.  All three are cookbooks (and authors) that I reference regularly.  Interestingly, all three had different suggestions for cooking the chicken – Sarah Leah Chase poaches hers, The Silver Palate authors cook theirs in creme fraiche and Ina roasts hers with olive oil, salt and pepper.  I bought bone in organic chicken breasts with the skin on and rubbed them with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them in a ceramic baking dish at 350 for about an hour until cooked through.  I then pulled the meat apart and split it between three bowls and whipped up my three variations.  Sarah Leah Chase makes a classic chicken salad with grapes, mayonnaise and thyme.  I tweaked the recipe a little bit.  The Silver Palate uses a dressing that is half mayonnaise and half sour cream.  (Of course, I couldn’t resist tinkering slightly with this one as well.)  Several of the Barefoot Contessa recipes have chicken salad variations – the one in this book has a dressing that combines mayonnaise with Dijon mustard and whole grain mustard.  

I served the three variations in lettuce cups and gave my husband a key so he could see which one was which:

Chicken salad cookoff!

Chicken salad cookoff!

We both liked the Sarah Leah Chase variation best (although we did like all three).  The mustard version was a little strong and we felt that it wasn’t the right answer for a baby shower luncheon for ladies.  The other two were a close call and I was a little bit surprised that my husband (who doesn’t like grapes) really preferred the version with grapes.  Here is the recipe the way I made it:

Chicken Salad

  • 1 whole bone in chicken breast with skin on (I prefer organic chicken)
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green grapes, halved
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup (or as needed) Hellmann’s mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 350.  Rub chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in a ceramic dish.  Roast until chicken is at 150.  Combine chicken with celery and grapes and season with thyme, garlic pwoder, Worcestershire and celery salt.  Add mayonnaise and stir well to combine.  If salad is dry, add more mayonnaise.  Chill and refrigerate until ready to serve.  

I steamed some broccoli for us to have as our side dish.  


About emenuplan
I love to cook and love to eat. I work full time and have a family so managing good meals during the week requires organization. I'm hoping to share my weekly menu plans and recipes to make things a little easier for those who want to follow along.

One Response to Chicken salad cook-off

  1. Celia says:

    Boy, oh boy, you are one special lady

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