March 01, 2010

March 1 THE MONDAY MENU Tarragon Chicken Salad

Consider the salad.

Salads are amazing. When thought and care go into designing a salad, God's wonderful, rich natural flavors are layered one on top another forming a grand and glorious edible edifice that radiates with beauty, and dances upon the pallet like a ballet.

Or maybe not.

If salads were that incredible I would not be sitting here weighing over three hundred pounds trying to convince you and me both of the glories of lettuce. This is not to say, however, that with a little thought and creativity some salads can really stand out.

Personally, I like salads that eat like a meal. Cobb Salad, Caesar Salad, and of course the world famous Chef's Salad come to mind. Still, there are times when the old standards simply are not enough and I want something different, something bold. So, believe it or not, that is when I turn to chicken and make a great big bowl of my chunky Tarragon Chicken Salad.

Conversation starter: Chicken is one of the most diverse foods on the American menu, and unless you're a vegetarian, you've probably eaten a lot of chicken dishes. Go around the table and see who can name the most chicken dishes in 20 seconds. With each round cut the time 5 seconds. Dishes can not be repeated. Players are eliminated when they have the least number of responses or run out of time. The last two players have two seconds to come up with an answer.

Tarragon Chicken Salad

2 pounds poached chicken cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tablespoon Tarragon - preferably fresh and minced fine
1 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 cups finely diced celery
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup mayonnaise
Juice from one small lemon
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Poached Chicken

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
1 large carrot
1 medium onion
1 stalk celery (rib or branch - not a bunch)
2 cloves garlic
4 cups chicken broth - or water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Prepare vegetables by cutting them into large pieces. Peel the garlic, but leave it whole. Trim chick of any excess fat and set aside. Leave chicken breast whole do not cut it up at this time.

In an 8 or 12 quart stock pot add broth or water, salt, pepper, vegetables and garlic and bring to a boil. Add chicken and return to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and cook for an additional 15 - 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the breast.

Remove chicken and allow to cool to room temperature before cutting. Retain poaching liquid and use as stock in other recipes.

To serve: There many ways to serve this salad. The dish can be combined with a bed of Romaine lettuce or baby spinach, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers, to make a light delicious lunch. It can also be stuffed into an tomato picked fresh from the garden, or served on your favorite bread. This salad can also be served a topping in a bruschetta, or on a cracker as tasty snack.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, the recipe is wonderful and delightful, but the woman herself is something else. Let me tell you we work with Harmony and oh boy, some of her creations are as wild as she is. Let's just say she is a bit out there. All joking and all kidding aside she is wonderful and charismatic as are her creations. However, be fair warned, for those who criticize her work with out reason should duck.