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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Chicken Salad Veronique

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 I was first introduced to chicken salad in college when I headed home with my best friend turned roommate turned maid of honor Kacey. We could always count on a few things when we made the trip from Kirksville to St. Louis: no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies (I have yet to taste any as good as Mama Burk's!), at least a dozen new and hilarious stories, and chicken salad from Dierbergs

Kacey and I would sit at the kitchen island with her mom who would entertain us with tales of her crazy co-workers, her crazier neighbors, and her craziest family members, while she and I would pile chicken salad onto soft bread that went immediately into our mouths--no need for plates, napkins, or utensils!

It's been almost six years since Mama Burk passed away and to say she continues to be missed and loved is an understatement. While a lot of things remind me of her (the best being her pretty fantastic daughter who she'd be so stinking proud of!), chicken salad remains near the top of that list!
When my mom made this chicken salad last time I was home, I was struck by how similar it tasted to the one from Dierbergs. Large chunks of chicken? Check! Light on the mayo? Check! Grapes? Check (I swapped green for red to make it more like Dierbergs' version)! Pecans? Check (my addition, also in an attempt to recreate)! I don't know if the original version featured tarragon, but the herb absolutely brought everything together--don't exclude it when you make this!
I'm so excited to make this recipe time and time again, not only because I have a serious obsession with how good it is, but also because of the memories it evokes! Kace--when ya coming over for chicken salad?!

One Year Ago: Quick Turkey Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash
Two Years Ago: Cookies and Cream Ice Cream
Three Years Ago: Asparagus Soup

Chicken Salad Veronique
slightly adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa at Home

-4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone-in and skin-on
-olive oil
-kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
-1/2 cup mayonnaise
-1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon leaves
-1 cup small-diced celery
-1 cup purple grapes, cut in 1/2
-1/3 cup chopped and toasted pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Rub chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place on a sheet pan and roast for 35-40 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Set aside until cool.
2. Once chicken has cooled, remove the meat from the bones and discard the sin and bones. Cut the chicken into a 3/4-inch dice. Add the chicken to a large bowl.
3. Add the mayonnaise, tarragon, celery, grapes, 1 1/2 to 2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper. Toss well. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, mix in the pecans.