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Chicken salad with a twist

Transform a summer basic into a seasonal surprise.

By Adam Ried
July 10, 2011

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You know about Queen Elizabeth II’s jewels, palaces, limousines, and carriages, but did you know about her chicken salad? Developed for her highness’s installation as Great Britain’s monarch in 1953, Coronation Chicken was originally a dish of cold chicken in a creamy apricot-and-curry-spiked sauce. It has morphed over the years into a popular chicken salad laced with curry and mango chutney, as in the recipe below. Of course, chicken salad is a warm-weather favorite on this side of the pond, too, and it’s easy to tailor with various seasonings, herbs, fruits, nuts, and veggies.

I prefer to cook my own chicken, but you can certainly get away with using store-bought rotisserie chicken; a 2-pound bird will yield enough for the recipes here. Rotisserie chicken tends to be a bit dry, so you might want to use a little extra mayo or yogurt in the dressing. All of these salads are best when freshly made.

Coronation Chicken Salad

Makes about 7 cups

Cooking the spices briefly before mixing them into the dressing deepens the curry flavor and mellows the garlic and ginger slightly.

1 tablespoon safflower or canola oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup plain Greek-style yogurt

1/4 cup mango chutney

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 pounds cubed or shredded cooked chicken, skin and bones removed (about 4 1/2 cups)

2 medium shallots, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

2 large ribs celery, finely chopped (about 2 cups), plus about 3 tablespoons chopped celery leaves for garnish

1/3 cup currants

1/3 cup finely chopped dried apricots

1/2 cup cashews, lightly toasted and chopped

In a small skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring constantly to prevent browning, until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add the curry powder and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 45 seconds longer. Set aside off heat to cool for a few minutes.

Scrape the curry mixture into a large bowl, add the mayonnaise, yogurt, chutney, lemon juice, ¾ teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and whisk to combine. Add the chicken, shallots, celery, currants, apricots, and most of the cashews, and fold to coat all the ingredients with dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, or lemon juice, if necessary. Cover and refrigerate until serving time, or serve at once, sprinkling with remaining cashews and celery leaves before serving.
Tangy Lemon Chicken Salad with Apple and Scallions

Makes about 7 cups

1/3 cup creme fraiche

1/3 cup plain Greek-style yogurt

1 tablespoon grated zest plus 2 1/2 tablespoons juice from 1 large lemon

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 pounds cubed or shredded cooked chicken, skin and bones removed (about 4 1/2 cups)

3 large ribs celery, finely chopped (about 2 cups)

1 large Granny Smith apple, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)

In a large bowl whisk the creme fraiche, yogurt, lemon zest and juice, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and pepper to taste to combine. Add the chicken, celery, apple, and most of the scallions, and fold to coat all the ingredients with dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Cover and refrigerate until serving time, or serve at once, sprinkling with the remaining scallions before serving.
Fennel and Tarragon Chicken Salad with Grapes and Pine Nuts

Makes about 7 cups

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup plain Greek-style yogurt

1 tablespoon tarragon or white wine vinegar

2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 pounds cubed or shredded cooked chicken, skin and bones removed (about 4 1/2 cups)

2 medium shallots, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and finely chopped (about 2 cups), plus about 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fronds for garnish

1 cup halved seedless grapes (about 6 ounces)

6 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted and cooled

In a large bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, yogurt, vinegar, tarragon, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste to combine. Add the chicken, shallots, fennel, grapes, and most of the pine nuts, and fold to coat all the ingredients with dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Cover and refrigerate until serving time, or serve at once, sprinkling with remaining pine nuts and fennel fronds before serving.
Chili-Lime Chicken Salad with Mango and Avocado

Makes about 6 1/2 cups

1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 medium serrano chili peppers, seeded if desired, and finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)

Salt and black pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 pounds cubed or shredded cooked chicken, skin and bones removed (about 4 1/2 cups)

1 medium mango, flesh chopped (about 1 cup)

1 medium Hass avocado, cut into 3/4-inch chunks

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a small bowl, cover the chopped onion with cold water and set aside to soak for about 15 minutes, then drain and dry well.

In a large nonreactive bowl, mix the lime juice, garlic, chili powder, minced chili peppers, 1½ teaspoons salt, and black pepper to taste. Vigorously whisk in the oil. Add the chicken, mango, avocado, onion, and most of the cilantro, and mix gently to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary, sprinkle with the remaining cilantro, and serve at once.

Send comments or suggestions to Adam Ried at cooking@globe.com.

  • July 10, 2011 cover
  • July 10, 2011 cover
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KITCHEN AIDE
Seasoning chicken

My go-to for salad is boneless, skinless chicken breast. It’s mild, so it needs serious seasoning. When I’m poaching, I salt the water and flavor it with onions, carrots, celery, and peppercorns. If I’m roasting or baking, I sprinkle the chicken with kosher salt and let it rest in the fridge for 30 to 60 minutes before cooking. Wipe the surface of the salted chicken before cooking.