Tag Archive | "chicken"

Serve a Healthy One-Pot Chicken Blanquette

In France, this dish is traditionally made with veal. Chicken proves equally delicious and is low in acid, in case acid reflux is a problem.

Healthy One-Pot Chicken Blanquette

4 chicken thighs (see note)
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced into ½-inch pieces
1 cup celery, diced into ½-inch cubes
3 cups potatoes, peeled and diced into ½-inch cubs (keep in cold water to prevent oxidation)
1 cup frozen corn kernels (or fresh if available)
4 cups chicken stock
4 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme
Salt, to taste
2 whole cloves or ½ teaspoon ground cloves
Dusting of nutmeg
½ cup oatmeal, or more if a thicker consistency is desired
1 cup frozen baby peas
4 sprigs tarragons leaves (stems removed, chopped fine)
4 sprigs parsley (stems removed, chopped fine)

Remove the skin from the thighs and place meat in a large stockpot.

Add the carrots, celery, potatoes and corn. Cover with the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Skim off the impurities that come to the surface.

Bring to a boil and skim. (If you slowly bring the stew to a simmer, the liquid proteins, or albumin, coagulate and float to the top of the broth.)

Add the bay leaves and thyme, which can be bundled with butcher’s twine or in cheesecloth for easy removal after cooking.

Add salt to taste, then the nutmeg and cloves.

Simmer about 45 minutes. Add the rolled oats. If you use instant oats, it will thicken faster.

Five minutes before serving, add the peas, tarragon and parsley.

Serve in a crock or soup bowl.

Note: Use chicken breast, if you don’t like thighs. You will need about 2 pounds. The beast tends to dry out when cooked for an extended period. The thighs stay moist due to the “silverskin,” or connective tissue, that turns into gelatin when cooked.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Approximate nutritional value each serving: 295 calories, 21 g protein, 41 g carbohydrate, 4 g fat

From “Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure” by Jamie Koufman and Jordan Stern with Marc Bauer

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New Cookbook Addresses Problem of Acid Reflux

If you’re having problems with acid reflux, there is help. Doctors Jamie Koufman and Jordan Stern have come up with a new guide, “Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure” (BRIO Press, $29.95), which takes into account various types of reflux symptoms or conditions that range from heartburn to sleep apnea.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, is no laughing matter. Nor is it something to ignore or simply feed antacids. “At present, reflux-related esophageal cancer (most common in white males) is one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States,” the authors write.

To get GERD under control can take a serious look at what you consume. Some of the foods that are notorious for causing reflux, the authors say, are chocolate, soda (with diet sodas having more acid than regular), deep-fried food, alcohol, fatty meat, cream sauces, anything with caffeine, citrus fruit and juices, and hot sauces.

I can say from personal experience that eliminating caffeine, except for an occasional bit of chocolate, has worked for me, but the causes will vary from person to person.

The cookbook portion was written with the help of French master chef Marc Bauer, who has created 75 recipes in the following categories: breakfast, salads, soups, entrées, hors d’oeuvres and snacks, and desserts. They all seem fairly easy to make, too, from one-pot stews to simple snacks. Just be careful of the carbohydrate counts, as many seem fairly high.

Here are two recipes to sample: Healthy One-Pot Chicken Blanquette and Watermelon and Ginger Granité.

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Chefs’ Corner: Frost Pot Pie

Frost Pot Pie

Few foods are as comforting on a cold evening as a chicken pot pie with a flaky crust on top and a creamy filling chock full of meat and vegetables. This Southern-influenced version is now available at Frost, the outdoor ice-skating rink at the Westin La Cantera, and throughout the resort at 16641 La Cantera Parkway.

Sous chef John Herdman says you can use leftover turkey in the recipe. Just add it after the cornstarch slurry.

Frost Pot Pie

1 tablespoon clarified butter
1 cup white onion,  diced small
3 bay leaves
4 (6-ounce pieces) chicken breast, cleaned and diced small
1 cup carrots, diced small
½ cup celery, diced small
½ cup parsnips, diced small
2 cups green peas
2 tablespoons sugar
1 quart chicken stock
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ tablespoon black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons Tabasco
1 quart cream
1 quart whole milk
½ cup cornstarch (mix with ½ cup of water to make a slurry)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Salt, to taste

For plating:
6 to 8 large mugs
6 to 8 pieces of puff pastry cut into rounds that fit the tops of the mugs.
2 whisked eggs


Bring a heavy bottomed pot to medium-high heat on the stove.

Once pot is hot, add butter and allow to warm for 10 seconds.

Add the onions and bay leaves and then caramelize them for about 4 minutes.

Add the diced chicken and sauté in the pot for 2 minutes.

Once the chicken is sautéed, add the carrots, celery, parsnips, peas and sugar.

Allow to cook together for 8 minutes.

Add the chicken stock to the pot, and bring to a simmer.

Simmer chicken stock until it reduces by half.

Whisk in garlic powder, turmeric, white and black pepper, and Tabasco.

Once spices are fully incorporated, pour in cream and milk, then bring to a simmer.

Once mixture is simmering, slowly whisk in cornstarch slurry, it will begin to thicken.

Thicken pot pie to your desired consistency, I prefer for it to heavily coat a spoon.

Season thickened filling with rice wine vinegar and salt to taste.

To plate: Ladle pot pie filling into large mugs and top with puff pastry round.

Brush tops with egg and place into a 350-degree oven for 6 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes and serve.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

From John Herdman/Westin La Cantera

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Beer Adds to Rio-style Grilled Chicken

Brush Rio-style Grilled Chicken with beer.

Brush this Brazilian chicken dish with beer to give it an extra layer of flavor. Instead of a brush, use a bundle of herbs, such as cilantro, parsley, rosemary or whatever you enjoy.

The dish is traditionally served with a side of toasted farofa, which is powdered manioc root and can be found at Las Americas Latin Market, 6623 San Pedro Ave.

Rio-style Grilled Chicken (Galeto)

3 whole spring chickens

1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, roughly chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, finely ground

1 bottle ale
An herb brush

Farofa, toasted

Cut chickens in half. Set aside.

Place white wine, cilantro, parsley, onion, garlic, oil, salt and pepper in a blender and purée until smooth. Marinate chicken for up to 2 hours.

Skewer the chicken halves and season with additional salt and pepper. Grill the chickens over a charcoal fire and baste the chicken with the ale, brushing the meat every 5 minutes with an herb brush. Serve with toasted farofa.

Makes 8 servings.

From Almir Da Fonseca/Culinary Institute of America

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Grilled Skin-On Chicken Breast

Grilled Skin-On Chicken Breast

Chef Tim Love of Fort Worth created this recipe to be served with Bush’s Grillin’ Beans. Don’t fill your grill with meat. Save half, so the grill will be hot when you have to flip the meat, Love says.

Grilled Skin-On Chicken Breast

Serves: 4 to 6

1 gallon of water
½ cup salt
1 tablespoon chile flakes
3 garlic cloves
¼ cup sugar

4 medium chicken breasts with skin
3 tablespoons minced garlic
¼ cup chili powder
¼ cup peanut oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Combine water, salt, chile flakes, garlic cloves and sugar in a container. Mix until salt and sugar dissolve. Add chicken breasts to mixture, cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Heat grill to at least 350 degrees.

Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Combine minced garlic and chili powder in a small bowl, add peanut oil and mix together. Rub chicken breasts with chili powder mixture and lightly season each breast with salt and pepper.

Place chicken breasts on grill, searing each side for 9 to 11 minutes. Cook breast skin side down first, searing it until skin is crispy brown. Move chicken to warm side of grill (not directly over hot coals) and finish cooking for 13 to 16 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees (juices should run clear). Or, if you need more time indoors, sear the chicken, then finish off in the oven by cooking it at 350 degrees for 13 to 16 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees (again, juices should run clear).

Serve with 1 (21-ounce) can Bush’s Black Bean Fiesta Grillin’ Beans and with Citrus-Arugula Salad (recipe follows).

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From Tim Love

Citrus Arugula Salad

½ pound arugula
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 limes, juiced
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Place arugula in a bowl and drizzle olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper over it.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From Tim Love

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Rice Rules at Pearl Paella Party

Waldy Malouf’s Paella is artfully arranged with seafood and vegetables on top.

It was a beautiful day for a cook-off Sunday and the Pearl Brewery, in front of the Culinary Institute of America, offered a perfect setting for the first ever Cocina de las Americas. The big event was a Paella Cook-Off.

Rene Fernandez of Azuca stirs rice into a paella that he made out of competition during Sunday’s paella cook-off.

When the flames under the huge paella pans were extinguished in the afternoon, judges chose their winners. First place went to chef and restaurateur Ben Ford, of Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City, CA. Peter Holt and crew from Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurant in Houston,  took second place and San Antonio chef, Jeffrey Balfour of Citrus, at the Valencia Hotel, took third.

There were as many imaginative takes on paella as there were teams — 16 in all. These included celebrity chefs Waldy Malouf of New York (Beacon and Waldy’s restaurants in New York City) and Ford. Each team drew long lines, as attendees waited patiently for tastes of the famous, saffron-laced Spanish rice dish.

SavorSA was there, too. The writers of this article admit they had a few minutes of high excitement when the chef we’d been assigned to help ran late. Michael Gilleto, chef of a private club in New Jersey, flew in Sunday and arrived in the nick of time, but not before his two nervous assistants had dashed off to the huge food pantry in the middle of the grounds to snatch up ingredients. If Gilleto didn’t make it, we figured we’d pinch hit and make our own paella.

Chef Michael Giletto plates his paella for judging.

Gilleto showed up, though, and we were off — slicing, dicing, killing lobsters, cutting up whole chickens, cleaning shrimp and dashing around looking for a few ingredients we’d missed during the first mad rush.

Gilleto liked a classic-style paella, one traditionally more about rice and olive oil than about masses of seafood, chicken, chorizo and more ingredients piled high. We were with him on that.

Along with the usual ingredients in the pantry we noticed bags of chopped pineapple, hoja santa plants (sometimes called the root beer plant), ancho chiles and more. We said “yes” to the ancho chiles, which Gilleto wanted to flavor the stock, but we all tacitly agreed “no” on the pineapple.

One crew decorated their paella with julienned carrots. Another crew had help from one of their member’s grandmother, who hailed from the northern principality of Asturias, Spain.

bout 1,000 people, including families, turned out to the first paella cook-off.

Shelley Grieshaber, culinary director at the Pearl Brewery and CIA graduate, made her way from table to table doing the “color” interviews for the day. Johnny Hernandez, chef and owner of Pearl’s upcoming La Gloria restaurant, and driving force behind the cook-off, alternated roles between host and trouble shooter.

“We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day,” said Grieshaber, who was excited at the success of the event.

San Antonio Food Bank culinary students were on hand to assist. Chef Rene Fernandez of Azuca made a huge paella prior to the contest to serve to the hungry masses. Other San Antonio chefs in the competition included Jason Dady, Dave Souter and Brian West, as well as a crew from the R.K. Group and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Ben Ford, right, shakes hands with a fellow chef after winning the paella cook-off.

Proceeds from ticket sales will be going toward scholarship opportunities at the CIA San Antonio to benefit local chefs.  A portion of proceeds will also go to the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Office of the Honorary Council to Spain for educational initiatives benefiting San Antonio students. H-E-B/Central Market were presenting sponsors of the community event, in partnership with the Culinary Institute of America.

It was a fun competition, and one we hope to see again next year.

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Ed’s Is Smokin’ Hot

3-meat plate with brisket, sausage ring, pork ribs, macaroni salad, and green beans.

I first met Ed and Waldean Ashford when they sold their barbecue from a mobile trailer that was usually parked on Houston Street. One plate convinced me that this was some of the best ’cue in town with its healthy infusion of mesquite smoke into meats that were moist yet deliciously tender.

But the trailer disappeared and so, I thought, had the barbecue.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

It seems the couple found a permanent space on South W.W. White Road, where Ed’s Smok-N-Q has been in operation for the past 14 months, building up a devoted clientele. The trailer is still there, parked at the back, where it serves as smokehouse.

Food: 4.0
Value: 4.0

Rating scale:
5: Extraordinary
4: Excellent
3: Good
2: Fair
1: Poor

Stacy (left), Ed and Waldean Ashford.

Inside, you’ll find the big board listing your meat choices, which include ribs, brisket, chopped pork, sausage or sausage rings, turkey legs and chicken. Sides include macaroni salad, potato salad, and a host of bean options: green, baked, ranch or pintos.

In two visits, I’ve pretty much had the lot and have come away smiling both times.

The barbecue, in many ways, was better than I had remembered it being. Favorites included the ribs, with an excellent outer crust leading to a deep, juicy, smoky layer of meat underneath; the sausage rings with an evenly ground meat tightly packed in its casing; and the dark meat chicken, with a crispy skin that seemed lacquered onto the thigh.

A friend who is a true brisket aficionado just sat there barely making a sound as she devoured bite after bite. A low, contented sigh escaped her lips and she shook her head in amazement. “This brisket is just perfect,” she said, before heading back for another forkful.

She liked it for the same reason that I liked the ribs: the almost-black, crusty edge, the smoke layer, the tender meat inside. None of it was overcooked to the point where it was mealy or would literally fall apart at the touch of a fork.

The thick cuts of brisket admittedly can be on the fatty side, which I love and I know others do not. So, if you’re bothered by that little extra fatty flavor, you may want to ask to have the fat removed beforehand.

The turkey leg was enormous. Big enough to feed a family of four, one friend cracked. Think of Bamm Bamm’s ever-present club on “The Flintstones” – that is, if you’re old enough to know who the Flintstones were – and you’ll have an idea of what I mean. The flavor was dense and smoky, if the texture was a little like jerky.

Smoked turkey leg

The chicken breast dry, too, and not too flavorful, but a dip or two into the tangy-sweet barbecue sauce helped revive it.

Among the side dishes, I’d suggest trying the green beans, if you want something savory. I loved the touch of heat and vinegar on the broad, fresh beans. The macaroni salad was loaded with mayonnaise and pickle, while the ranch beans had the right touch of chili powder and smoke. The potato salad was fine, but your taste for it will depend on if you like that particular style, which is ultra-creamy and slightly sweet.

In the end, the side dishes don’t matter much to me when placed in the presence of that brisket or those ribs. In fact, a three-meat plate ($11.75 with two sides) is calling me right now.

Ed’s Smok-N-Q
902 S. W.W. White Road
(210) 359-1511
Open Monday-Saturday for lunch and dinner

(photos: Nicholas Mistry and John Griffin)

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Buffalo Wings: The Original From The Anchor Bar

BuffaloWingsThis recipe is attributed to Teresa Bellissimo, who is owner of the Anchor Bar and Restaurant in Buffalo, NY, reportedly the origin of this popular style of wing.

Original Anchor Bar Buffalo Wing

4 to 5 pounds chicken wings
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt (if desired)
4 cups good quality vegetable oil
4 tablespoons butter or margarine (1/2 stick)
5 tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot Louisiana Sauce
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

BuffaloWings3Chop off the tip of each chicken wing, and discard it. Chop the wing in half (cutting at the joint) to make 2 pieces. Grind on fresh black pepper and sprinkle with salt if desired.

Heat the oil over high heat in a deep skillet, Dutch oven, or deep-fat fryer until it starts to pop and sizzle (around 400 degrees).  Add half the chicken wings and cook until they’re golden and crisp, stirring or shaking occasionally. When done, remove them to drain on paper towels and cook the remaining wings.

Melt the butter or margarine over medium heat in a heavy saucepan, add the hot sauce and the 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Stir well and remove from the flame immediately.

BuffaloWings2Place the chicken in a plastic tub with the sauce, shake well, dump onto a warm serving platter, pour the sauce on top, and serve.

Source: St. Sam’s and St. Bede’s Recipe Pages from “Totally Hot! The Ultimate Hot Pepper Cookbook”

Part of the wing series: Take Wing: The Essential Party Food Has Many Flavors

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WalkerSpeak: Easy, Elegant Crepes

crepes4For something a little fancy but not at all difficult to make, why not not whip up batch of crepes?

I haven’t made crepes for years and I really don’t know why. In honor of Bastille Day, which was Tuesday, I pulled down one of my favorite cookbooks, “Simple French Food” by author and cooking teacher Richard Olney. Then I set out to make something a little different for dinner.

Olney, who died in 1999, was an American writer whose specialty was French country cooking. His recipe calls for a simple batter of flour, eggs, milk or cream, a dash of cognac, a pinch of salt and butter or olive oil. I chose olive oil, which worked quite well. After whisking the ingredients in a batter bowl, I let it “rest” in the refrigerator for a few hours.

About an hour before dinnertime,  I heated up my trusty omelet pan and turned out 12 eggy, lacy-edged crepes.

We had fresh spinach and some chicken breast left over from a meal the previous day. (Crepes are also great for using up leftovers in fillings.) I made cream sauce to bind these together for the filling.

One can create just as many filling variations with a crepe as with a flour tortillas. Make a filling of seared fresh scallops in a light saffron cream sauce,  fill your crepes and sprinkle a little Parmigiana-Reggiano on top. They’ll make an elegant first course or lunch dish. Fill them with lightly poached, sweetened fruit and that’s dessert. Or,  give them the Italian treatment and turn them into manicotti, stuffed with herbed ricotta and topped with a light tomato sauce.

It took me about an hour, start to finish, to make the crepes (including time to prepare the filling). Those we didn’t eat will hold well in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, for a couple of days.  You also can separate them with squares of parchment paper, put them in a freezer bag and freeze them. In fact, if I were making crepes to freeze ahead, I’d probably make two batches.

crepes2Don’t let the proper pan be a big issue. Years ago, while working for a particularly exacting (nasty) British chef, I learned the hard way that the cook treats the chef’s crepe pan with great honor. You don’t pull it down to make an omelet or sauté the veal medallions. It is for making crepes. Only. Afterward, it must be carefully cleaned and stored. I was, in fact, pretty scared to even look at that crepe pan.

In his book, Olney said a good crepe pan is made of heavy iron. “They differ from omelet pans only in that the sides are lower and more oblique; in their absence, small omelet pans will serve, ” he wrote.

My omelet pan has always made good crepes.  It was built to last and is still in great condition after 35 years. After the first crepe or two, I simply had to lift one edge of the cooked crepe up, shake the pan lightly back and forth, and the crepe slipped neatly out of the pan.  If I didn’t have my fine omelet pan, I’d probably consider using a good quality, small-to-medium-sized nonstick skillet. I’d use a little butter on the bottom for the first crepe or two, though.

Another couple of notes: Don’t bother to put sugar in a crepe batter that is going to be used for a dessert. Olney said it took him years to come to this realization. “Whatever their ultimate treatment, they will receive a large sufficience of sweetening.”

Also: Olney, in his recipe, says to turn the crepes. I will depart from his instructions here and suggest leaving this step out. This is how I was taught.  Just cook the bottom of the crepe to a golden hue. The top will have set enough by that time if your batter is thin enough (and the following recipe will make a batter of perfect consistency).  Slide the crepes, as they are made, onto a plate. They won’t stick together. When you fill them, wrap the crepes with the browned side out.

The best part about making crepes on Bastille Day was patting myself on the back. I have crepes for two more meals in the fridge — and the “hard” part is already done.

Crepe Batter

crepes11/3 cup flour
Salt, to taste
3 large eggs
1 cup liquid (you can use milk, beer, half-and-half, water or any of these enriched with heavy cream)
1-2 tablespoons Cognac
3 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter (butter suggested for dessert crepes)

Put flour in medium bowl and add pinch of salt, to taste. Add eggs to the flour mixture and whisk from the center of the bowl, working gradually out, until no lumps remain. Then stir in, with the whisk, the liquid, Cognac and olive oil or melted butter.  Cover the bowl and let the batter rest in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

When you are ready to make the crepes, put the pan on the stove and coat it lightly on the bottom and a little up the sides with butter. Heat over medium until the butter starts to spatter.  For 8-inch crepes, use a 1/4-cup measuring cup, and fill it about 3/4 of the way up (about 3 tablespoons). Pour it into the hot pan. Immediately, with your other hand, lift the pan up and turn it this way and that so that the liquid batter covers the bottom of the pan and, if the pan sides are sloped, a little ways up the side of the pan. The batter is thin, so it should be completely cooked within 15-20 seconds or so. Lift or slide the crepe from the pan and put on plate.  Take the pan off the heat for a moment or two before replacing and heating for the next crepe.

crepes3If you wish to turn the crepes, here are Olney’s instructions: The crepe is ready to turn when the edges become almost dry, tacky, and beginning to curl. Slip a heat-resistant spatula under one edge, working it gently around the pan until the crepe loosens. Carefully lift crepe and turn over.

Stack the cooked crepes on a plate. If you are using only part of the batch of crepes, cover the remaining ones with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Makes 10-12 crepes.

Adapted from  “Simple French Cooking” by Richard Olney

Spinach and Chicken Filling for Crepes

White Sauce
1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon flour
2/3 cup milk or half-and-half, hot but not boiling
Salt, to taste
Small pinch white pepper
Small pinch nutmeg

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
3 tablespoons dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Salt, to taste
1 (5-ounce) box fresh baby spinach, steamed and drained, with excess water pressed out
8 ounces cooked chicken, diced
4-6 crepes
Melted butter, for brushing
Grated Parmigiana-Reggiano

For white sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour, stirring well until butter and flour are well blended and just beginning to lightly brown.  Add warmed milk or half-and-half. Raise heat to medium and stir or whisk until mixture is smooth and beginning to thicken. Turn heat down and continue to let cook, another minute or so, stirring until thick. You can add a little more milk if the mixture is too thick (pasty). Turn off heat.

For filling, warm butter or oil in small skillet or saucepan. Add minced shallot and sauté for a minute or so until it is cooked through. Add white wine and turn heat to medium. Let the wine reduce down to about 1 tablespoon. Add paprika and salt.  Take off heat.

In a bowl, mix together the spinach, chicken and shallot/wine mixture. Then, pour in the white sauce and mix together gently until the filling is well blended.

For serving, fill 4-6 crepes with the spinach and chicken mixture. Roll up into a cylinder. Lightly brush with a little melted butter, if desired, and top with sprinkling of Parmigiana-Reggiano.

Makes 2-3 servings.

From Bonnie Walker

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Griffin to Go: Kitchen Sink Chicken Salad

Chicken SaladMany 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.

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