Many of the Chinese restaurants I frequented when I was growing up offered something called kitchen sink soup.
No, it wasn’t made of whatever was dumped down the drain, but it featured a little bit of everything, as if not a single leftover morsel were going to waste.
Each bite would be different because you never knew what you were going to find, a shrimp or a strip of pork, a lone pea pod, a few strands of bok choy or water chestnuts all in a clear broth.
I use that approach whenever I make chicken salad, which is fairly regularly, given my fondness for roast chicken. I always use what I have on hand that seems complementary to the chicken and the mayonnaise.
It could be fairly standard, such as celery, onion and pickle. Or it could be exotic: hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, slivered radish (both red and daikon).
Nothing wrong with a touch of bell pepper (your choice of color), fresh hot pepper if you want your tongue to tingle, hard-cooked egg, chunks of apple or your choice of nuts. Dried cherries or dried cranberries add a sweet-tart touch.
Just don’t let the dish get too busy.
For a dressing, I prefer a nice mix of sour cream and mayonnaise (Duke’s, preferably). But that doesn’t always work out either. Whenever I don’t have sour cream on hand, I merely added a touch of heavy cream or buttermilk to the mix.
Make sure you add the mayonnaise and sour cream in small amounts. You’d be surprised as how little mayo is needed to cover a relatively large bowl of chicken. Plus, you can always add more to taste.
Salt and pepper, either black or red, are the only seasoning needed unless you want to get fancy, which is the antithesis of chicken salad to me.
Then comes the hard part: Let it set for awhile for those flavors to mingle and coalesce into whole. Go off and do something for 20 minutes, at least. That’s the real reason for this blog entry. I just needed to bide my time until lunch was ready. Enjoy.