September 30, 2009
by Gareth Mark
When I have a full day planned in the kitchen--breaking down chickens, making stock, making soup, or similar activities--I like to reward myself mid-day with a chicken salad sandwich. It's simple and tasty so I always make enough for two or three more meals.
Today, I'm making soup so I have chicken stock, which is essential to making a good chicken salad. I started by poaching boneless, skinless chicken breasts in hot stock with a couple cloves of garlic for added flavor. I use stock for poaching to re-infuse the chicken with flavor from the stock. Poaching in water would leech flavor out of the meat.
While the chicken cooled, I diced half a red onion and put it into a bowl with some milk. Soaking onion in milk will mellow the flavor so that it doesn't overpower the other ingredients or taste raw. It needs half an hour in the milk.
I selected diced Granny Smith apple to provide a tart note, walnuts for some crunch, and raisins to add some sweetness. I tossed those ingredients with the diced chicken and the drained onion, then added some lemon thyme fresh from the herb garden. I used just enough mayonnaise to hold the ingredients together, but not so much that it was overpowering.
To serve, I sliced a kaiser roll in half, laid down a bed of lettuce greens and nasturtium leaves, topped the greens with chicken salad, and added a few cherry tomatoes from the garden. Lunch is served!