I know my mom hates when I explain how my chicken salad came about, but I feel like it needs explanation! Since I do something that’s not normal with chicken salad…I completely grind it up in a food processor. Normally when people see the texture of it they raise an eyebrow as to why I would do such a thing. Here is why..
My mom has always had family meals ready for us. I give her mad credit for that..However! She admittedly says she cooks because she has to, not because she loves to. This usually results in dry meats, crispy bottomed rice, and black dinner rolls. Not to say she is a bad cook – she isn’t..she would just rather start cooking and walk away that hover over it like a hawk. So one day she started some chicken breast..and walked away. This resulted in chicken that was pretty close to the texture of the turkey made in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. She comes to me with this sad pan of chicken and says “can you save this somehow?!”. I know I am good at cooking – but this was a test. I took the pan and felt like a surgeon bringing a patient back to life.
I decided that If I completely ground up the chicken and added enough liquids to it maybe I can salvage this. It worked! My famous chicken salad was born. I do however avoid using dry chicken in re-creating this recipe now. I feel like the secret ingredient I use is cream. It gives a fantastic mouth feel and totally amps up the flavor.
Danielle’s Famous Chicken Salad
- 1 lb cooked chicken
- 1 1/2 cups mayo (real deal here)
- 1 medium onion
- 3 stalks celery
- Dill (to taste)
- Salt & Pepper (to taste)
- Garlic Powder (to taste)
- Cream or 1/2 & 1/2 – About 1/4 cup, enough to make salad creamy
The first step in making the chicken salad is to properly cook the chicken. You can dry it out if you like, clearly this recipe brings it back to life, I do not recommend it though! What I do is avoid getting any color on the chicken. Which I know is completely the opposite in what you’re taught when cooking meat. I sear the chicken lightly in the pan with salt and pepper and then add just a little bit of water to the bottom of the pan so color doesn’t happen. Do not drown the chicken because then all the flavor will go into the water. You’ll make a fantastic chicken broth! But a lousy chicken salad.
Next dice up the onion and celery, not in any particular size because it will be added to a food processor anyhow. Pulse the onion and celery until you get a very small dice on them. Do not blend the onion too long or youll just get a mushy onion paste. Next dice up the fully cooked chicken and also pulse in a food processor until it almost resembles canned tuna. In a large mixing bowl add the onion, celery and chicken ground up. Mix well. Add your seasonings and mayo. Mix up and taste test for seasoning. Add the cream slowly until you get a desired texture.
I normally serve this as a dip which easily can justify the texture. My family goes nutty for this recipe and even serves it as a sandwich. The texture may not be for everybody but I absolutely love it! My favorite thing to serve with is Club crackers or garlic crostini toasts.