Southwestern Chicken Salad with Homemade Mayo

Southwestern Chicken Salad

I’ve been thinking about making homemade mayonnaise for a long time.  But I hadn’t gotten past thinking about it until I used my Barnes and Noble Christmas giftcard to buy Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain.  Not only do I highly recommend the latest cookery book (as they say in the UK) from the good-natured Essex maverick, but I also insist that you make this mayo immediately!

Other food-obsessed friends had been telling me for years.  But I don’t eat that much mayo, and figured it wasn’t worth the trouble.

I was wrong.

Not only was it quick and easy, the result was so rich that Eric and I were desperately trying to think of things to use mayo on or in!  We ended up making a huge bowl of chicken salad, and it was so good, I had to share the recipe (see below).

I also used Eric as a food taster, making him do a blind test.  It was quite simple to tell the difference between the mass produced, processed mayo in our fridge and this stuff.  I was afraid the olive oil would be too overpowering (you can cut it with half rapeseed oil for a less robust flavor), but we really liked it.  I’m going to make some of Jamie’s variations soon: basil, garlic, and curry!  Mmm, curry.

Somehow, I didn’t take any pictures of the process; but it’s so straightforward (really, stop worrying and just whisk!).  Here it is.

Stella’s Homemade Mayonnaise
adapted from Jamie Oliver
3 egg yolks
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1.5 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
juice of one lemon
salt, to taste

1. In a medium mixing bowl, lightly whisk egg yolks and Dijon mustard. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, only a little bit at a time, while continuing to stir. It’s best if you take up to ten minutes to do this, so the ingredients won’t separate.

2. As the mayo begins to thicken, add the vinegar and lemon juice while continuing to whisk. Continue until it is well mixed and smoothly textured.

3. Add salt to taste; scoop mayo out into a Mason jar or other sealable, refrigerator-safe container.

Yields approximately two cups of mayonnaise. Will keep for two weeks in the fridge.
 

Southwestern Chicken Salad
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup homemade mayo (see above)
1/4 white onion, finely diced
handful cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp Cholula hot sauce
dash of balsamic vinegar
2 tsp chili powder, plus more to garnish
4 Tbsp crushed pecans
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Meanwhile, prep other ingredients.

2. Bake chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet for approximately 30 minutes, or until fully cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about five minutes.

Southwestern Chicken Salad3. Chop or shred chicken to desired consistency. Sometimes, I pull it by hand; for this dish, I cubed it on a cutting board with a knife. Place cubed chicken in large mixing bowl.

4. Add mayo, onion, cilantro, and lemon juice, and mix thoroughly. Then add hot sauce, vinegar, and paprika, and stir again. Taste, then add salt and pepper as desired.

5. Spoon out chicken salad onto serving plates and garnish with a dusting of chili powder, crushed pecans, and additional cilantro sprigs. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6. Refrigerates well; eat within a couple of days.

Southwestern Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad on Challah

This isn’t really a recipe, more of a quick pic to file under This Week’s Eats. But it’s pretty simple, so here it is, in case you want to try it yourself!

Take some pre-cooked or leftover chicken and shred it into bite sized pieces; I used some chicken breasts that had been baked with salt, pepper, garlic, and cumin. In a mixing bowl, stir it up with equal parts mayonnaise and Hal’s Hot Love. Refrigerate for at least thirty minutes (the longer the better, though, up to 24 hours), then spread on freshly sliced challah with a couple of pieces of raw onion and enjoy!

Stella’s Chicken Salad

There are a million chicken salad recipes, but here’s mine! I think the tiny bit of Dijon mustard and splash of balsamic vinegar really make it extra tasty. I also love slivered almonds.

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken*
2 Tbsp olive oil, separated
1 cup celery, finely diced (one regular sized celery rib)
2 Tbsp minced white onion
1/4 cup crushed pecans
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup kefir
1/4 cup full fat mayonnaise
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 black pepper

1. Preheat your oven to 375°. Place the chicken in an oven-safe dish and drizzle with half the olive oil. Lightly salt and pepper. Bake for about twenty minutes, turning once or twice, or until chicken is fully cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the other ingredients. In a large bowl, toss celery, onion, pecans, and almonds. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine kefir, mayonnaise, mustard, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice. Whip with a whisk until well combined, then add sugar. Keep whisking until it becomes silky smooth, then add dill, salt, and pepper. Stir thoroughly and taste; add more salt and/or pepper as desired.

3. Chop the cooked, cooled chicken into chunks of desired size (or shred, if preferred) and mix with the vegetables and nuts in the large bowl. Then pour the dressing over the salad, tossing gently until the ingredients are well mixed.

4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and cool in refrigerator for at least two hours, or even overnight. To serve, re-stir with a large wooden spoon and eat as a main course, sandwich filling, or green leaf salad topping.

*I used white meat here, but you can use either white or dark; the latter will give your salad a slightly richer flavor and fattier texture.  I wanted a light, crisp, cool salad for summer, so I went with white meat—it’s supposed to hit 106° today!

Homemade pulled pork salad

I bought a four pound pork shoulder at Central Market for $11.41, and, adapting several recipes from the old Internet, came up with this one.  I used a lot of spices (cumin, chili powder, paprika), garlic, and Texas oranges that were on sale.  I cooked that sucker for about twelve hours.

Slow cooked pork (especially a tough cut like shoulder) may be the perfect meat for me.  I tend to be paranoid, and thus overcook meat.  However, pulled pork just gets better and better the longer you cook it!  Twelve hours resulted in a tender, falling apart hunk of meat.  I had this salad for dinner–chopped lettuce, pulled pork, red bell peppers, orange slices, and a drizzle of Hal’s Hot Love.  And I have four more portions of same for lunch this week!

I will definitely make this again.