Makes 4 servings
I love a really good chicken salad. It’s so helpful to have a batch made to use all week – on toasted nut/whole grainy bread, scooped on top of a salad, eaten with crackers or just straight from the fridge. However, chicken salad is so subjective, everyone enjoys it in different ways: ground up/chunky, with/without nuts, with/without celery etc. Because of the innumerable combinations, I won’t even consider claiming this recipe as the best, but I will say it’s pretty delicious. The great thing is you can use it as a basis for your own and add whatever ingredients you want. And if your family is anything like mine, none of us likes it the same way. I will add walnuts and maybe chopped apple to mine, but my daughter wants it as is – plain and simple. My inspiration for this recipe comes from a very delicious and very expensive chicken salad that I buy from a local organic market in my town. It’s a pretty small container so I would hide it from my family so I didn’t have to share! I realized it was time to make my own. It’s creamy, delicious and made with only heart-healthy olive oil and none of the inflammatory vegetable oils store bought mayo is made with.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. dijon mustard
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 cup light olive oil
- 2 Celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1 green onion
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. fresh chopped tarragon or 1-2 tsp. dried tarragon
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- * Other key ingredients to add: chopped walnuts, slivered almonds, dried cranberries, chopped apple, sliced grapes
Cook the chicken:
- Brine chicken breasts (this makes them juicy and super flavorful): Fill a large bowl with enough water to cover the chicken. Add ¼ cup sea salt. Stir to combine until most of the salt is absorbed. Add the chicken breasts and let them sit in the mixture for 15 minutes. Or if you have the time you can also cover the bowl and refrigerate for up to 6 hours.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Remove the chicken breasts from the brine, rinse them with cold water and pat them dry with paper towels. (Some store-bought chicken breasts are now sold pre-brined. So double-check your packaging before doing this step. If it has already been pre-brined in a sodium solution you can skip this step.
- Place chicken breasts in a single layer in a large baking dish. Brush with oil. Combine salt, pepper and garlic powder and sprinkle mixture evenly over the chicken.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink. If you use a cooking thermometer, measure the temperature at the thickest part of the breast, it should be at least 165 degrees F.
- Remove from oven and set chicken aside.
Prepare the mayonnaise: (made with heart healthy olive oil instead of highly processed and inflammatory vegetable or soybean oils and some form of sugar).
- Combine egg, mustard, vinegar, ¼ cup olive oil and salt in a bowl. Using an immersion blender pulse for a minute to break up the egg. With the blender running, add the first ¼ cup of oil a little at a time.
- Make sure each addition of oil is blended in before adding the next. The mixture will start to emulsify. Once the first ½ cup of oil has been added, you can add the rest more quickly. Add as much of the oil as needed to reach the consistency you prefer. The more oil you add, the thicker the mayo will become. You may not need to use all the oil to reach your desired thickness.
Make the chicken salad:
- Tear cooked chicken into bite size pieces and put it into a big bowl.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Then add about half the mayonnaise. Give everything a good toss. Adjust seasoning if needed.
- Save leftover mayonnaise in a mason jar for up to a week in the refrigerator.
- Serve and enjoy!