Chicken salad is always a good way to use up leftovers, especially if you’ve just made chicken stock. A lot of the ingredients I use to add flavor to the simmering stock–onion, celery, celery leaves, parsley, thyme–go into the salad as well, so when I’m getting the ingredients for the stock I know I’ll have them for the salad as well. A bonus is that the chicken is moist and flavorful after simmering for a few hours.
Chicken salad, however, is one of those recipes which is easily varied depending on who’s making it and what they have on hand. Tarragon, for example, is a classic match for chicken–just don’t overdo it, unless you like your salad to taste like grass. Celery leaves are optional just because they can be a bit tricky to get–most packaged celery have the outer ribs trimmed so that there aren’t a lot of visible leaves, so I just pull the ribs apart far enough to rip out some of the inner leaves. (Lovage is a good substitute, but it’s a bit stronger, so cut back a little.)
I use just enough mayonnaise for the ingredients to hold together, and I add the salt afterwards, since the amount needed really depends on the mayo–the last batch I made needed no additional salt at all.
- 3-1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
- ½ cup chopped yellow onion
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
- ¼ cup chopped celery leaves (optional)
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 cup good mayonnaise
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Mix together chicken, onion, celery, parsley, celery leaves, and thyme.
- Stir in mayonnaise gradually until the ingredients come together.
- Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and, if necessary, a little salt.
- Refrigerate for a few hours (or overnight) before serving to let the flavors meld.