Friday, September 9, 2011

Curried Chicken Salad

I wanted something delicious for lunch today, and this ended up hitting the spot perfectly (with plenty of leftovers!). I've been wanting to make chicken salad for a long time, and my favorite part about this recipe is that I didn't have to shred any chicken. Plus all the fresh fruit.

It turns out that being out of school and hitting the market before noon results in you being the only person there under fifty. But we all got along marvelously, and I even convinced an elderly woman to buy some mangoes with me! One niggle that I'm working on: everyone else was saying hi to each other and having conversations except for me. But I will make them my friends (the same way I'll never go hungry again!)

Once home, I started off by coating my chicken quite thoroughly in kosher salt. I let it sit for fifteen minutes, turning it over every five minutes, then rinsed all the salt off the chicken.

Meanwhile I peeled, pitted, and cut up my mango. This proved difficult both because of the messy process itself and because I kept munching on the mango I had managed to surgically remove.

Then I poached the chicken for a year and a half. Seriously, this took forever. First I brought a large pot of water to barely-a-simmer. I think my mistake was that I had too much water and maybe I didn't get it hot enough in the first place. But it all worked out okay. The recipe calls for you to poach the chicken for six minutes uncovered, then remove it from heat and cover it and let it finish cooking for 10 to 12 minutes. 10 to 12 minutes is a lie. For me and my inadequate cooking water, it was more like twenty minutes. Then I took it out, cut it into smaller pieces, and let it cook for a little longer. In the end, I ended up with very tender chicken, all the way cooked, so it was a sort of blessing.

For the dressing, I combined mayonnaise, plain Greek yogurt, curry powder, fresh-squeezed lime juice, honey, ginger, salt, and pepper in a bowl and whisked it together. The curry taste was a little overpowering, so I added a bit more yogurt and mayonnaise to even it out. (The remainder of the lime went into my Diet Coke.)

While the chicken was wandering around the desert with the Jews, I halved a bunch of red grapes, chopped a red onion, and chopped up the cashews as well, tossing this all into the same bowl as the mango.

I let the finally-cooked chicken cool for several minutes, then sliced it into 1/2-inch pieces. These pieces were stirred into the dressing, which was stirred into the mango mix, which was all shoveled into my mouth (practically).

Good for sandwiches too!

Curried Chicken Salad (via the Gourmet cookbook)
For salad:
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (1 1/2 lbs)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 firm but ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup red seedless grapes, halved
1/2 cup salted roasted cashews, coarsely chopped

For dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup plain yogurt
5 teaspoons curry powder
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Poach the chicken: Coat the chicken  with kosher salt in a bowl. Let stand at room temperature, turning once or twice, for 15 minutes.
Rinse the salt from chicken. Poach chicken in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan of barely simmering well-salted water, uncovered, for 6 minutes. Remove  from heat and let chicken stand in cooking liquid, covered, until just cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and cool for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile make the dressing: whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, curry powder, lime juice, honey, ginger, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
3. Assemble the salad: Cut chicken into 1/2-inch pieces and add to dressing. Add onion, mango, grapes, and cashews and stir gently to combine.

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