I am convinced that when chicken is mixed with mayonnaise, fruit, nuts and herbs, the result is absolute southern bliss. Chicken salad is a masterful combination of flavors and textures: savory, tender chunks of chicken, creamy mayonnaise, sweet fruit, and crunchy nuts, all enhanced with a sprinkling of salt, pepper and herbs like tarragon (my hands down favorite). A quintessentially southern dish, chicken salad is an ever welcome guest at most tables where ladies “lunch.” No celebratory gathering is quite complete without it. It’s as delicious on fine china at a formal ladies’ luncheon as it is when nibbled directly from the bowl while standing in front of the refrigerator for a late night snack (yes, I’ve done that.) I love the flavor of a chicken cooked slowly in a pot with onion and celery, however if you are short on time, pick up a perfectly good rotisserie chicken from the store and make no apologies. A good cook is, after all, always versatile.
Just about any chopped fruit can be mixed into chicken salad with a good result. Apples, berries and dried cranberries are great additions. Tarragon adds a wonderful anise-like flavor, making it my go-to herb for chicken salad.
-2 cups chicken, cooked and cut up
-1/2 cup red seedless grapes, halved
-1/2 cup mandarin orange segments
-1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced
-1/2 red onion, finely chopped
-1/2 cup pecans, chopped
-3/4 cup good quality mayonnaise
-1 Tbsp. lemon juice
-1 Tbsp. dried tarragon
-1 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. pepper
-In a large bowl, toss together the chicken, grapes, oranges, celery, onion and pecans. Set aside.
-In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, tarragon, salt and pepper. Pour the
mayonnaise mixture over the chicken and toss lightly.-Place in the refrigerator until chilled.