Sunday, May 9, 2010

Curried Chicken Salad

Curried chicken salad, cucumber, and feta in whole-wheat wrap
Lately I am obsessed with curry powder -- the yellow-orange, vaguely Indian, commonly-found-in-supermarkets kind rather than any of the myriad other varieties. Contrary to popular belief, it is not "spicy" in the sense of being hot -- there's actually a sweetness to it. Curried chicken salad is super-simple to throw together, and in about five or ten minutes, will yield you the fixings for a five-day workweek's worth of sandwiches (yes, squeamish types, a chicken-and-mayo-based mixture will keep that long) that you can throw together in minutes in the morning. And, of course, it will be a lot cheaper than buying comparable sandwiches day to day.

I start by shredding leftover chicken, which means pulling it off the carcass with my fingers and then pulling apart those scraps so they're like strands. (You could use store-bought roast chicken, but that kind of defeats the point of this blog, now, doesn't it.) I shred the chicken directly into a large Tupperware container, so as not to have to dirty a bowl. (Note: The curry powder might stain your Tupperware yellow. If you care about this, you're really neurotic.)

Assuming you have a couple of cups of chicken, add a dollop of mayonnaise*** ("dollop" defined by your taste -- remember, though, that you can always add more, but you can't take it away once it's in there), about a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and either finely diced red onion or thinly sliced scallion (again, to taste -- and/or, depending on whether you plan to make out with someone immediately after lunch). You might add about half of a red or yellow pepper, diced. And if you're some kind of psycho freak, I guess you could add a handful of golden raisins. I guess. About a teaspoon of curry powder should do it. Oh, yeah, and salt and pepper -- duh.

Mix all this together, taste and adjust your mayo/seasoning/onion-or-scallion proportions accordingly, and you've got your chicken salad all ready to be stored in the fridge.

This chicken salad works well over salad greens, or in a sandwich; I like pita or a tortilla wrap for this, but you could of course use any sandwich bread you like.

Here are some items I like to include in my sandwich:

  • Thinly sliced cucumber (I am half WASP, you know -- and the crisp texture and clean flavor make a great contrast with the curry and onion)

  • Sliced avocado (the curry brings out its flavor)

  • Crumbled feta cheese (though feta was recently called a "bullying" flavor on Top Chef Masters, curry can stand up to feta on the proverbial playground)

  • Baby arugula (why, yes, I am a liberal elitist who grew up in Massachusetts ... why do you ask?)

  • Crumbled bacon (cooked, not raw...look, we're not making any assumptions about kitchen proficiency here)

  • Now, tuck that all into your wrap or pita, bring it to work, and smirk at your colleague who just spent $8 on a similar sandwich from Pret a Manger, while your ingredients may have cost that total but will stretch five days. Smug self-satisfaction always makes a meal that much more, well, satisfying.

    ***Mayonnaise note: I'm a Hellman's girl all the way. Miracle Whip is ... I don't even know what that unholy swill is, but there's a reason it is not actually called "mayonnaise." Hellman's marketing department, please feel free to contact me for a lucrative endorsement deal. If product placement is good enough for 30 Rock, it's good enough for us! Resume reading


    1. You guys are totally reading my mind these days. I just made chicken salad tonight... but not with curry. Interestingly, curry *is* easily available here in Nicaragua and I've got some on hand, so next chicken salad I will try it out.

      PS - I'm with you on the Hellman's. There's no other way, and thankfully I found that too here!

    2. I just made this! I used a lemon & garlic rotisserie chicken from fairway ($4.99) which had more than enough chicken. It was great on a baguette with cucumber slices.