Dec 04

Festive Chicken Salad





The inspiration for this recipe comes from post-Thanksgiving leftovers. You could use all that extra turkey you have lying about in the fridge … or simply poach chicken breasts in a court bouillon. If you are using roasted poultry then obviously there will be no cooking necessary and all the flavour would already permeate throughout the meat. Plain (raw) chicken breasts need a little help in the flavour department, hence the flavoured poaching liquid. To a saucepan of cold water I add enough salt to make it taste slightly oceanic, along with one bay leaf, a whole shallot (skin and all), 10 peppercorns and a small sprig of thyme and rosemary. Place the chicken breasts into the cold water and place it on medium high heat until it juuuuust boils. Poaching in rapidly boiling liquid risks toughening the meat so the minute the water threatens to boil, lower the heat to a gentle simmer, covered. Leave to cook for 5 mins, then turn off the heat and leave everything to cooldown on it’s own. The residual heat in the liquid will continue cooking the chicken without overdoing it or drying out the meat.



Every year we have leftover chicken and Mum would try to salvage what she can from the carcass, either by chopping it up and turning it into soup, pie filling or pasta bake. If you haven’t the energy to cook up any of the above as your body frantically reminds you it’s on a break from the previous days festivities, turn it into an easy-peasy sandwich filling. Make a big batch and you can even serve it on its own as a cold salad along side fresh baby greens. The nice thing about chicken salad is not only can you make it a day in advance (in fact it is highly recommended you make it 24 hours ahead to allow for maximum flavour melding), but you can personalize it in any way you want to suit the occasion and your taste. Today I am keeping things simple by using avocado, celery and pomegranates but you can use green apples, walnuts, raisins and even hard boiled eggs.





  • 2 chicken breasts, skinless
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 2 tbsp cornichons, well drained
  • 1 shallot, diced finely
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper





Chicken Salad




The key to good chicken salad is nice moist and juicy chicken pieces, so it is important you do not overcook it during the poach. Tough and stringy chicken simply ruins the whole experience and then it just ends up in the dog bowl … not that he’s complaining either. Oh, by the way Doopey is doing soooooo well four weeks into his recovery from emergency gastric surgery. He even had friends come over to see him at home and to wish him well, both humans and canines alike.




Festive Chicken Salad6 Bernese Mountain Dog1




His first human visitors were Eva and Richard, who absolutely adore him. The feeling is very clearly mutual as Doopey spent the rest of the afternoon sitting with them and not us. Then we had Doopey’s old pal, Charlie, stay with us for ten days while his parents were away in Kuala Lumpur.




 Chicken Salad4 Bernese Mountain Dog Poodle





Festive Chicken Salad5




While Doopey wasn’t every entertaining for his guest’s benefit, Charlie didn’t mind and he stuck close to Doopey anyway … ensuring he always had a warm body to sleep next to, whether he liked it or not. Hehe.


For most of his recovery period Doopey had to sleep in the lounge because he was not allowed to use the stairs until his doctor said so. Unable to sleep in our room as he always does, R. volunteered to keep Doopey company during the night as he likes to be in the same room as his ‘hoomans’. However, this was what I discovered one morning … not exactly what I had in mind when I said “accompany the dog“.




Festive Chicken Salad6 Bernese Mountain Dog





With all the love and comfort he received at home, not to mention the exceptional medical care he received from the vet team who operated on him, Doopey has made a rapid recovery and is practically back to his old goofy self. For that we are thankful and will be forever grateful for. He’s only just turned five, and we intend on having him around for a good few years yet.



Anyway, I digress. Back to chicken salad. Where was I??

Oh yeah! So once you get your juicy chicken (or turkey) all prepped and diced, throw in everything else and stir in the mayo. I added the pomegranate to emphasize the Christmas season. If you are unable to get pomegranates then dried cranberries or sweet red grapes will be an excellent substitute.


Cover everything in cling film and chill in the fridge for 4 – 8 hours. Next day simply serve it over sandwiches to take with you for a picnic (in case you live in the southern hemisphere, where Christmas is usually spent outdoors), or serve it on a crisp bed of lettuce for Boxing Day brunch.




Festive Chicken Salad7





Tip : If using avocado, toss them in a bit of lemon juice before adding them to the salad in order to retain their colour. 



Well that’s my new recipe for this week. Can’t wait for Christmas to finally get here … still no sign of snowfall which is a total bummer. It’s not even that cold outside. I do hope I don’t have to wait until the new year to see snow in Amsterdam this year.


Until next time anyway, folks. Stay tuned for more holiday baking in the coming weeks. I have a hunch iced gingerbread cookies will be up next.



~ Enjoy! ~


Permanent link to this article: http://foodflurries.com/savoury/festive-chicken-salad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *