My mom makes the best chicken salad because Uncle Nick made the best chicken salad. They passed on the easy and fresh recipe to me in just a few words over the phone. I have changed it through the addition of hot sauce, cilantro, avocado oil and lime juice for this particular version, but you can season it a variety of ways depending on the rest of your meal. It’s easy! The only real work is incorporating the oil into the egg yolks, but that is mostly about consistency: if you don’t get it right, it still tastes great!
- 3-4 cups shredded, pre-cooked and chilled meat such as turkey, chicken or tuna
- 3-4 egg yolks separated from the whites
- a few teaspoons of mustard (spicy brown, Dijon, horseradish or your choice)
- About 3/4 a cup olive oil or a mixture of mostly olive oil and a little avocado oil for a twist
- Sriracha Hot sauce to taste
- 1-2 stalks celery, diced
- 1-2 cups Other veggies, such as red and green cabbage, shredded and diced
- A handful of almond slivers
- Coarsely ground salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Dash of cayenne pepper
- Several dashes of dill
- Cilantro, if desired
- Juice of 1/2 a lime
- A few teaspoons diced fresh ginger
First, a word on the meat. I have used chicken, turkey and tuna in this recipe. When mom makes her chicken salad for me, she roasts 2 whole chickens in the oven and then picks all of the meat from the bones and makes a huge batch since she knows how much I enjoy it. That’s love!!
I’ve also roasted turkeys or chickens, used most of the meat for other purposes, and then picked just the back meat and other scraps off of the bones for the salad, since those pieces get shredded naturally. Plus, after working in a hot kitchen to roast a big bird for hours, cold refreshing chicken salad seems like the perfect meal to end the day.
Any of these meats work fine. Precook the meat to your liking (or grab some leftover out of your fridge) and shred 3-4 cups of it for this recipe. This time around, I used frozen chicken breasts that I cooked in balsamic vinegar with sea salt and freshly ground pepper in my cast iron skillet. I like to “put a scald” on the outside of some of the meat when I’m making chicken salad. Basically, I like to sear a few of the pieces to get that supposedly-bad-for-you but delicious crispy edge.
Next, separate 3 egg yolks from the whites and save the whites for some other goodies later. Whisk the yolks until they are broken, then drip in a few drops of avocado oil and continue to whisk. Drip in a few more drops and whisk some more. Keep at this until you’ve mixed in about 1/4 a teaspoon of avocado oil. Then continue whisking in 1/4 a cup of olive oil in the same fashion, drop by drop. Squeeze in a bit of lime juice (about 1/4 to 1/2 a lime’s worth.)
As a side note, I purchased the avocado oil as a gift for Blake last year. I read about how it is delicious like olive oil, but that it can stand up to a higher cooking temperature. It’s been a great addition of flavor to meals! It can overwhelm other flavors easily, though, so take it easy when adding it to recipes in place of olive oil.
Slowly drizzle a very thin stream of the next 1/2 a cup of olive oil into the eggs as you whisk constantly. This should be a slow process, gradually fluffing up and the yolks while adding the oil in thin streams. Most homemade mayo recipes use less egg yolks to more oil. I honestly don’t even usually measure. I just whisk and slowly add oil until the consistency seems right. It takes about 10 minutes to bring it up full, so just be patient and whisk away…
Stir some Sriracha hot sauce and some mustard of your choice into the mayo once it is done. Then, mix in the salt, pepper, cayenne, dill, cilantro and some diced ginger.
Dice a stalk of celery. This gives a great CRUNCH to the mixture. I had some red and green cabbage, so I shredded some of that up, as well. It’s also yummy to add a fresh tomato or two to the mixture. Really, you can put in whatever veggies you like. I’ve also used cucumber, shredded carrot and have added a bit of mint to the mixture for a fresh taste.
Add the veggies and the shredded meat to the mixture, stir it around until the mayo is well distributed, and you’re done! With leftover meat, you can have this salad done in about 15 minutes depending on your chopping skills.
You can eat the salad served on lettuce, romaine or Napa cabbage leaves, on bread, on crackers or on its own. For this meal, Blake made a mango pineapple salsa to go on the side, and we served the salsa and salad on Mission Carb Balance Tortillas, toasted in the oven and then broken into chips.
We mixed some pineapple, mango, cilantro and lime in with our gin and tonics, as well!