As promised, here is the chicken salad recipe we use over and over again for showers and parties (notice the licked-clean plates above!). Feel free to make seasonal adjustments; we think this would be great with cranberries and almonds instead of grapes in the fall and winter. It tastes better on the second day – all the more reason to prep the day before (that, plus the time it frees up for a pre-party cocktail).
Classic Chicken + Grape Salad
From Nantucket Open-House Cookbook, by Sarah Leah Chase
- 3 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, poached just until tender and cooled to room temperature (see step one)
- 5 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
- 1 ½ cups seedless green grapes, cut in half
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder (fresh garlic is overpowering)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 3 cups (or as needed) Hellmann’s mayonnaise
Fill a large saucepan with water and spike it with a few splashes of white wine or dry vermouth. Scatter in several onion slices and/or carrot slices, celery leaves, and parsley sprigs over the top, season with a dash of salt and grinding of pepper, then add the chicken breasts. Bring the pan to a full boil, and then turn it off, letting the heat of the liquid finish the cooking process. When all has cooled, remove the chicken breasts with a slotted spoon and proceed with the salad making.*
Cut the chicken breasts into ¾ inch – 1 inch chunks, removing and discarding any tough tendons as you go along.
Toss the chicken, celery, and grapes together in a large bowl. Season with the thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mix in the mayonnaise. You want to use a lot of mayonnaise to make the salad very moist and creamy.
Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and refrigerate covered at least 1 hour before serving.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
*The poaching liquid can be strained and used for stock in soup recipes.