Updated: Oct 16
Chicken salad sandwiches are quite popular in the US, aren't they? Especially during the warm months, it’s a quick and easy on-the-go sandwich. I think every grocery store even carries at least one kind of chicken salad.
Over the years I've tried so many kinds, and the recipe I want to share with you today is very special to me because this is the very first sandwich I tasted in my new home country. In the summer of 2009, two weeks after my arrival, my then-future husband took me to Cape Cod, which is known around the world for its cranberries. That’s where I had my first chicken salad sandwich Cape Cod Style.
This salad is not only delicious, but it’s good for you too. One of the best-known benefits of cranberries is their use in promoting urinary tract health. Cranberries contain Proanthocyanidins, which are unique bioactive compounds that are linked to a long list of health benefits. Some of these benefits include: promoting heart health, protecting the urinary tract, decreasing inflammation, and supporting digestive health.
I love cranberries in any form, but I especially love them when they’re fresh. During the holidays I usually pick up a bag or two every time I go to the grocery store, and I freeze them immediately. They last me all year, and I can use them in so many ways. The recipe I’m going to share today calls for dried cranberries, so don’t worry if you don’t have fresh ones today.
Cranberries are definitely one of the best parts of this salad, but let’s talk for a second about the star of the dish: Chicken. In this recipe, any part of the chicken will do. If you are a chicken breast person, go ahead and use the breast. I happen to like chicken thighs because they are more flavorful and the darker meat has more nutritional value than the whtie parts of the bird do. Regardless what part of the chicken you use, poached chicken is the key for any good chicken salad.
Poached chicken is super easy. Poaching is a gentle cooking method that results in soft, delicate meat. It involves simmering chicken in water (or another liquid) to cook it. I’ve poached chicken so many different ways. Instead of water, I sometimes use apple cider or wine. If I’m using water, I like to add whatever aromatics I have in the kitchen to boost the flavor. It’s great with bay leaves, anise star, of allspice. You can also use vegetables like garlic, onion, fennel, celery . . . Anything is better than plain water!
Let's do it...
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Making salad time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Author: Inna of innichkachef.com
8 cups cold water
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon allspice
Few sprigs of thyme
3 stocks green onion (white part only)
1 chili pepper
1. Fill the pot with 8 cups of cold water.
2. Add the chicken and the rest of the ingredients to the pot.
3. On low heat with the lid on, bring the pot to a boil. Once it starts boiling slowly, slightly lift the lid.
4. Simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Remove the chicken, and let it cool until it’s comfortable to touch.
6. Shred with your fingers or use a knife.
I recommend you save your cooking liquid. You can use it for any recipe that calls for chicken broth (NOT stock). The liquid freezes easily for up to 3 months.
Chicken Salad Ingredients
5 chicken thighs (no skin)
¾ cups of mayonnaise (2 tablespoons for the bread)
1 cup roasted pecans, roughly chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
½ red onion, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
16 slices of bread to assemble sandwiches
Chopped herbs (optional)
Check out my Mayonnaise - 3 Ways for how to make mayo yourself. I show you how to make classic mayo, but I also show how you can make it probiotic by using kefir or how to make it egg-free by using oysters.
Chicken Salad Directions
1. Shred the chicken into a bowl (see video clip above).
2. Add salt and freshly ground pepper, then mix.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the bread) and mix together.
4. Taste the salad to make sure you like the flavor balance. If you need to add more seasoning, please do.
5. Lightly toast the bread and smear the mayo on both pieces of bread for each sandwich. Add the chicken salad to your sandwich and finish with your favorite toppings such as herbs, lettuce, etc.
Instead of making sandwiches, I often serve chicken salad on a bed of greens or turn it into a lettuce wrap. If your greens looks sad, just soak them for half an hour in ice water, and then they will become crisp and fresh, as if you just got them from the garden 5 minutes ago.
Also, did you know you can freeze chicken salad? You totally can! You just may need to add a little bit more mayonnaise and adjust the salt and pepper after defrosting.