Monday, May 17, 2010

Cherry Walnut Chicken Salad

After my Saturday night spatchcock chicken, I am going to need to come up with a few ways to creatively (hopefully) use up the substantial amount of leftover chicken meat tucked away in my refrigerator.  Chicken salad used to be one of my very favorite sandwich fillings when I was young, though I have never been able to recreate the exact flavor and consistency.  Perhaps it just the perfect image I have of it in my mind.  Anyway,  later on in life, when I worked at a local gourmet grocery/deli, I was introduced to apricot chicken salad which was one of the most delicious things I had ever tasted.  The perfect amount of sweetness from the dried apricots against a tiny bit of tang from Dijon mustard mixed with sour cream and mayonnaise.  Since then, I have tried many creating and experimenting with many chicken salads including curried varieties, versions with fruit, without nuts, onion, no onion, vegetables, different name it.  They all are very good, though I still have not settled on a favorite.  This one, is pretty close to the top of the list, however.    

I chopped 1 chicken breast (which in my case was left over from a roasted whole chicken, you can certainly substitute boneless, skinless chicken breast or supermarket rotisserie chicken) into substantial bit sized pieces and placed them in a big mixing bowl.  To the chicken I added diced celery, diced red onion, a handful of tart and sweet dried Michigan cherries, and a handful of walnuts freshly toasted in a 375 degree oven for 5-10 minutes and salt and pepper.  I made a dressing of equal amounts of mayonnaise and sour cream added it a spoonful at a time to the chicken salad until it was dressed just enough to hold the everything together. 

I grilled two slices of a hearty French peasant bread and slathered both sides with mayonnaise.  I added a bed of shredded lettuce on which I placed a heaping spoonful of chicken salad.  Topped it with sliced tomato, a red onion ring and several slices of cucumber.  The perfect combination of sweet cherries and salty walnuts, tender white meat chicken and crunchy fresh vegetables on perfectly toasted artisan bread.  To me, an ideal sandwich.

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