Chicken Curry Salad Paradigm / by Anne

curry powderDid I ever eat chicken curry salad before this recipe?  It's hard to even imagine.  This recipe is a Platonic Ideal--the ultimate curried chicken salad paradigm.  It's the kind of salad that people will get seconds for, and if they don't, they might be haunted by it later, kicking themselves for not getting another plateful.  This may sound extreme, but a friend of mine actually said this after doing some self-kicking.  So. Thanks, Barefoot Contessa, for hooking me up with this awesome recipe.  The kind of curry powder you use is one of the keys to this salad's magic.   For me, the magical powder is Muchi curry powder, an Indian blend.  It has a little bit of heat from the  cayenne, white pepper, and black pepper.  The brand I use is Frontier.  If you are curious about this flavor but it's not at a store near you, it is available online.  Frontier brand's Muchi curry contains: Turmeric, cumin, ginger, black pepper, coriander, fenugreek, dehydrated garlic, celery seed, cloves, cayenne, caraway, white pepper, and mace.  If you're ready to make this salad right this moment and feeling adventurous, you could doctor up that curry powder in your cabinet--or even make your own.

*****

Edit!!  Actually, the brand that I have been using from the bulk section of a gourmet-ish grocery store, Frontier, has a couple varieties of Indian-inspired curries.  I was using "Curry Powder," not the "Muchi" variety.  However, "Curry Powder" still has a fair amount of heat because it contains cayenne. The ingredients are different: Organic coriander, organic turmeric, organic mustard, organic cumin, organic fenugreek, organic paprika, organic cayenne, organic cardamom, organic nutmeg, organic cinnamon, organic cloves.

 The next time I make this chicken salad (which will be doing soon), I am going to try it with Muchi, as I recommended above.  Might as well follow my own advice!

 *****

Another secret to this recipe is the use of roasted chicken breasts that still have the skin on and bone in.  The flavor of the meat is so much more rich and juicy when prepared this way.  And then you have an extra bonus: I use the skins and bones to make a small amount of quick chicken stock while I'm making the rest of the salad.  It's not a big deal--I just throw in the chicken parts, cover them with water, then add the tired-er scallion leaves from the recipe, along with old carrots and celery and some herbs.  I bring the water to boil and let it simmer for a couple of hours while doing other things.  Then I strain the stuff into a bowl and put it in the refrigerator.

Curried Chicken Salad

Adapted fairly faithfully from the Barefoot Contessa's recipe; modified to make a finer texture.  I have modified the texture to fit in the cones from yesterday's post.  If you wish to serve this salad as an entree salad or on a sandwich, coarsely chop the chicken, and dice the celery and scallions more coarsely as well, and leave the cashews whole (still adding cashews at the last minute for a good crunch). 

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 lbs chicken breasts (6 split breasts or so) with bone in & skin on
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 Major Grey's Chutney
  • 3 T curry powder -- one that you love!
  • 1 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions, both white and green parts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 cup roasted, salted cashews, chopped

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚.
  2. Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and pepper.  Roast the chicken breasts until they are cooked and still juicy, about 35 minutes.  Set chicken aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a food processor combine mayonnaise, chutney, wine, and curry powder and process until completely smooth. 
  4. Remove chicken from skin and bones, then pulse 8 to 10 times to create a fine texture.  Combine the dressing with the chicken until well-coated.  Stir in the celery, scallions, and raisins.   Refrigerate for a couple of hours to give the flavors a chance to meld. 
  5. Right before serving, stir in the cashews.
  6. If stuffing into cones, spoon salad into a ziplock baggie and snip a hole in the bottom corner of the baggie.  "Pipe" chicken salad into each cone, giving enough pressure to fill in the bottom tip of the cones.

Makes about 6 cups.  If filling cones--fills about 80 - 90 cones.