January 18, 2013

Chicken Salad with Tarragon and Almonds




Ingredients:
4 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast
1/2 cup blanched, slivered almonds
2 stalks celery, diced

for the dressing:
6 cornichons, minced
1 tablespoon tarragon white vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
2/3 cup mayonnaise


Directions:
In large bowl, toss together the chicken, almonds and celery. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour over the chicken mixture and stir to combine. Refrigerate at least 1 hour prior to serving.

My thoughts:
For our 1920s festivities, I decided to make one of them a "ladies' luncheon" type meal. Seemingly popular during the 1920s and beyond, I noticed chicken salad on nearly every sample menu. In looking at old   cookbooks, it seems chicken salad with nuts was en vogue so I devised this salad to complement the flavors in other dishes I was making and added almonds, which give the salad a fun and somewhat unexpected (as they are nearly camouflaged among the chicken) crunch. I shredded the chicken (using the oft pinned shred-in-a-stand mixer method which shredded warm chicken to quite a fine texture) because many of the chicken salad recipes of the day called for cooked breasts that were nearly ground to a paste. Chicken paste salad didn't sound terribly appetizing so I struck a balance with my shredded chicken salad. I'm glad I did. The texture was different than what I was used to but the small pieces of chicken really held all of the ingredients together so the flavors melded really well. I served it on buttery crackers alongside  pimento cheese,  tomato aspic, carrot and celery sticks for a lady-like meal.