Here’s my twist on the Southern favorite…..Chicken Salad.
Our Chicken Salad evolved into something extra spectacular from its original conception after we hired a cook named Marion. Marion would quickly teach me about the importance of correctly seasoning food and to never be afraid to do so. Her tactics along side the spice rack would soon put this Deli favorite over the edge of perfection and it reined as the customer favorite for many years. Here’s the “skinny” on the Sweet P’s chicken salad.
*NOTE* contrary to what your mom and grandma taught you, you do not, I repeat do not need to wash your chicken! I know, shocker, right? This is a tip I learned during a class that anyone operating a commercial kitchen must be certified in. The program is called ServSafe. Their reasoning is that by washing your chicken under running water in your sink you’re actually splashing bacteria all over the surrounding surface area. So that means bacteria from raw chicken can splash on your counter tops, cabinets, even a window that may be located above your sink. Now that’s just gross. So tell mama and em’ to stop washing the chicken for heaven’s sake! It’s the ServSafe plea to save the world from germ destruction and chicken bacteria. You can find more food myth busters “here”.
Now, that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s get started!
Here are the ingredients you’ll need.
4 Chicken Breast (Boneless/Skinless)
1 cup Mayonnaise
1 cup Sour Cream
½ cup Celery (chopped)
1 ½ cups Red Grapes (seedless)
½ cup Toasted Pecans (medium pieces)
3 Tbsp Tony Chachere’s
Salt and Pepper
Serves 6-8 generous portions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Take (4) boneless/ skinless chicken breast and trim the fat and yucky parts off. (A good idea is to keep a cutting board that is reserved only for the use of raw chicken to prevent cross contamination)
Place the breast on a pan. (You will only need 4 breast for this recipe. I cooked additional seasoned breast this day for my family to enjoy for supper.)
Season the breast, front and back, with Tony Chachere’s and Pepper. This is where the magic is made in this recipe, so don’t mess this part up! No pressure, right? In all truth, if you properly season your chicken at this stage, little to no seasoning will be needed during the mixing stage.
Place slices of onion on top of the breast and drizzle with oil. Approximately 3 Tbsp of oil; give or take.
Cook the chicken in a preheated oven until it reaches the internal temperature of 165 degrees. (All ovens cook differently. I suggest keeping a meat thermometer on hand, especially when cooking chicken, to ensure it is fully cooked.)
While your chicken is cooking, you can prep the rest of your ingredients.
Chop the pecans. This is an example of the perfect size. You can also purchase prepackaged medium piece pecans “here” if you can’t find them in your local grocery store.
Toast the pecans in a preheated 350 degree oven on a sheet pan. Do not burn the pecans, I repeat……. do not burn the pecans! Doing so may cause convulsions and tears; I speak from experience. So watch these babies like a hawk! When they’re perfect, remove them from the oven and place on the counter to cool completely.
Slice your grapes in half.
Slice the celery.
And dice the celery.
I suggest keeping the celery and grapes separate. This way you can add as little or as much as you want to satisfy your tastebuds or your mama and em’s tastebuds.
When the chicken has reached the proper temperature, remove from the oven to cool. (If you’re getting ahead on the cooking for Sundays Dinner On The Grounds but it’s only Thursday morning, you can store the cooked chicken in an air tight container in the refrigerator up to 3-4 days. I promise the preacher will never be able to taste the difference. *Just be sure to consume all of the chicken by the fourth day.)
After the chicken has cooled, remove any fat that you might have missed and begin to pull apart.
( A food processor can be used, but be aware that you can over chop in a processor.)
After you’ve pulled apart all of the chicken you can give it a quick rough chop.
When the chicken looks like this, it’s perfect.
Now add the grapes.
Add the celery.
And finally my personal favorite; toasted pecans.
Toss these ingredients by hand. It’s o.k., I won’t tell the preacher you used your hands!
Now add the mayonnaise and sour cream.
Mix until everything has been incorporated or what I call “married”.
Taste and season if needed with salt and pepper. Please don’t double dip or I will tell the Preacher, the Deacons, and Sister Sara!
Now lather that deliciousness between two slices of Whole Wheat bread. Top with a slice of home grown tomato and a crisp leaf of romaine lettuce and by George you’ve got yourself a Sweet P’s Chicken Salad Sandwich.
Indulge and Enjoy!