Growing up in Arkansas, there was a definite drive, especially once July rolled around, to make meals that were eaten chilled. My mother’s so-called “Summer Salad” was one; the ubiquitous canned tuna / pasta combination that was rolled out probably once a week.
One slightly more rare treat was chicken salad. Basically my mother made it the same way as the pasta stuff: a mayonnaise (well, Miracle Whip, actually) base with pickle juice or relish, with some sort of chopped veggies thrown in, usually celery and cucumber, and maybe a little something sweet-ish, like apple, raisins or grape halves.
When given the excuse to stew a whole chicken this week, I was determined to make it stretch into at least three separate dishes*. The first night Joel made chicken pesto pasta with some of the meat, and the rest was removed from the carcass and kept in the fridge until I mustered up the will to do something with it. It was a pretty typical me-version of things: dig around in the refrigerator until I found enough extras to throw in. What I found was a little more than normal: celery was there, but no cucumber; eggs, bacon and some Australian sharp Cheddar were on hand, however, so I went for more savory than sweet, as Joel isn’t the sweet fan I am. You could add chopped onion of any kind if you like, or bell pepper, or just about any kind of vegetable you’d eat raw.
Here’s the version I made a few days ago, and finished just before writing this post.
“Everything” Chicken Salad
Chicken, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip), to taste and desired consistency
Sweet pickle relish (or juice, or chopped sweet pickles), to taste
grape tomatoes, sliced
egg, hard-boiled and chopped
bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
sharp Cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4″ pieces
Combine basic ingredients until the chicken+dressing tastes like you want it to. Stir in add-ins as desired. Chill and eat.
*The third, incidentally, will be dumplings. Not chicken and dumplings, just dumplings, cooked in the broth. Comfort food extraordinaire.