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Southern Chicken Salad and Variations

Mike Amason

This is one of the recipes my Mother grew up with.   A lot of the recipes from her childhood, had they been written down, would have started with, “First, kill a chicken”.

To all the fowl who have given their all over the years, I salute you.  To Mom, Thanks for the recipe, one of my all-time favorites.  Duke’s Mayonnaise, BTW, is the Southern Standard.  Hellman’s is not bad.   Just don’t suddenly decide to trim your budget when you buy mayo.   Use the best available whether you can afford it or not and turn the heat down to do penance for the extravagance.  I have seen lots of chicken salads, especially in Zabar’s and other delis in New York, but I have never seen one made like this outside the South.  It is really simple to prepare.  If you can stick things in a bowl, you can make this.

Serves 4-6 or around  8-10 sandwiches. Leftovers do not freeze well

Basic Ingredients:

  • Two pounds chicken, dark or white meat as desired.  Turkey is interchangeable.
  • One stalk celery
  • One large yellow onion
  • Two hard boiled eggs
  • ½ cup Mt. Olive sweet salad cubes.  DO NOT use sweet pickle relish. It is far too wet. If salad cubes are not available, buy whole sweet pickles and drain and chop them yourself.
  • ¾ -1 cup mayonnaise, Duke’s if available
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt, if needed

Directions:

Roast or boil chicken as desired. Remove skin, bone and chop finely.  Put chopped chicken into a two quart bowl.
Chop onions, celery, and boiled eggs into small cubes and add to chicken
Add a couple dashes worcestershire sauce and black pepper
Drain the salad cubes well before adding to bowl
Add thyme and garlic powder and toss ingredients to mix well

Add the mayonnaise a large spoonful at a time and turn into chicken and vegetable mix before adding more.  There is a tendency for this salad to be very moist, and any extra liquid will drain in the bowl and be a nuisance.  You need just enough mayo  so that when you scoop up a spoonful of salad it holds together as a ball.  You can always add more mayo to a sandwich if you wish.  Taste and adjust seasonings. Be careful with the salt. You get some in the pickle, in the worcestershire, and in the mayo.  You may not need to add any.

Variations:

There are more variations than ingredients.  Here are a few I have tried.

  1. To increase the recipe, add one egg for each pound of chicken
  2. Red onion gives it a bit more bite than the yellow ones.  Spring onions are milder and the chopped greens are a great addition to the mix.  I have added all three types of onion at once, but I’m an onion freak.
  3. I personally love to chop ½ cup or so red and/or green bell peppers to add color and flavor.  Especially attractive option for a holiday lunch.
  4. This is a chunky salad that looks great on a bed of lettuce.  For a creamier salad to spread for sandwiches, take ½ of the chicken and hit it for a couple of seconds with a food processor before adding to the bowl.
  5. Add Soy sauce and bell peppers and a handful of  unsalted roasted  peanuts for an oriental flavor.
  6. Add bell peppers and sliced pickled jalapenos for a Mexican twist.
  7. ½ cup slivered almonds or toasted pecans will decorate it a bit for special company
  8. ½ tsp cayenne pepper will punch it up but is not to everyone’s taste
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