If chicken salad is on the menu, I’ll order it. I’ve had decent chicken salad, bad chicken salad, and really bad chicken salad. But what I rarely find at a restaurant is a really good chicken salad.
I ask for a lot. I want big chunks of juicy chicken, not chicken obliterated into a fibrous paste. As much as I love mayonnaise, I don’t want a drippy mess when I bite into my sandwich but I do need something to hold it all together. I like a binder complimentary to the other flavors: mayo for traditional chicken salad or an Italian version with a little pesto added, plain yogurt for a Greeky twist, raspberry yogurt for a ladies’ lunch or shower brunch appetizer, and sour cream for either a South-of-the-Rio version or just when I’m out of mayo and yogurt.
There should be crunch. There must be crunch! Tart apples, roasted pecans, or roasted walnuts are good in a sweeter chicken salad and spicy nuts, onions, red bell peppers, and jalapenos are good in a more savory chicken salad. Loads of fresh herbs are a must: cilantro, parsley, basil, chives, or rosemary.
Mexican Chicken Salad
Spicy, Tex-mex inspired chicken salad.
- 2 cups leftover chicken, shredded
- 1/3 cup mayo, plus more as desired
- 2 Tbsp white onion, chopped
- 1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
- Small bunch of cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- liberal pinch of salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- Toss all ingredients in a bowl.
- Add additional mayo if necessary. Taste for seasoning and adjust.
- Serve on toasted bread spread with cilantro-pecan pesto and Monterrey Jack cheese.
- Refrigerate the leftovers.
Yields: 4 servings
Estimated time: 15 minutes