Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Chicken Salad (or my attempt at Stanley J's Chicken Salad)

There's a little place in KY that I love called Stanley J's. It is a family owned deli that sells yummy sandwiches on Great Harvest bread, desserts, soups, dips, potato salads and the best, best chicken salad. It is simple, tasty, and no weird fruits or nuts.

The problem is, "There WAS a little place in KY that I LOVED...they USED TO MAKE the best, best chicken salad..." sad! Stanley J's closed in the fall and all they left me with were delightful memories...a vague list of ingredients from the container and my own observations of the chicken salad's physical appearance.

             "Very finely shredded chicken (Maybe food processed?) chopped fresh
              parsley, fine chopped celery, chopped green onions"

So! I set about recreating this delicious dish! Here it goes! (I'm not going to share it today, but whenever I make chicken salad I also make chicken noodle soup. It's crazy to waste that delicious broth and a lot of the ingredients overlap.)

2-3 lbs of chicken (bone in breasts or whole chicken, with or without skin, if you buy a
                                  large value pack, just cook all the chicken  together and use it for
                                  other recipes or soup)
2 stalks of celery (with leaves, etc..)
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped (with skin,etc...)
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 T dried basil
1 T whole black peppercorns
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried dill
2 bay leaves
1 T dried tarragon
1 tsp sugar

1/2 c of homemade stock (strained)
good quality mayo (start with 3/4 c then more if needed)
1/4 c lemon juice
3 green onions, chopped
1 stalk of celery diced
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1T of fine chopped fresh parsley (just use 1/2 tsp of dried unless you already have fresh around for another recipe)
salt and pepper to taste

1) Cook the chicken. We are going to take this opportunity to add tons of flavor and make a whole big batch of chicken stock that you can use right away for soup or freeze for another time. In a large stock pot, bring about 5 quarts of water to a boil with  the chicken and the first 11 ingredients on the list above. Throw in all the carrot peels, onion skin celery leaves, etc... Cover and simmer for about 2 hours. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

2) Transfer the chicken to a cutting board (strain all that lovely stock and keep it for later, reserving about 1/2-3/4 c for use now), pull the meat off the bones and chop it finely. You should have about 4 cups.

3) Add the stock, mayo, lemon juice and 3-4 T of the diced celery to the chicken. Pulse in a food processor or use an immersion blender like I did (although this was a little challenging) until you get the consistency of a spread.  Add more mayo and/or stock by the Tablespoon if needed.

4) Add the rest of the diced celery, the chopped green onions, parsley, onion and garlic powder and stir to mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. (I sometimes add another dash of lemon juice and even a tiny sprinkle of sugar at the end.)

It looks really simple but it packs a huge punch of flavor! Now all I need are thin slices of a summer ripe tomato from my garden and a couple pieces of Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat to make it absolutely perfect.

Yummy, yum!!

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