I have this memory of eating some amazing Chicken Salad at the Auroville Visitors Center Cafe. Ever since then I have been trying to recreate it without getting as close as I would like. While there is no reason why mayo, chicken and potatoes thrown together in any format will not taste good, I haven’t quite hit the exact taste I remember. This week I tried yet another recipe. Here is what I found..
I started with a Julia Child recipe that I everyone on Epicurios was raving about. By the time I was done though, the recipe had morphed into a bit of a different entity. While very different from the AV salad, I love this one too. And this is why:
1. A great recipe to me is one where simple techniques find a way to juice the very best flavour out of its ingredients. Like how the Zuni Cafe salad recipe uses the red wine vinegar soak to zing up the raisins or the way salting brings out magic juice in tomatoes. The addition of vinegar to the boiled potatoes in this salad adds to the flavour and texture in a way that I cannot quite define. You will just have to try it out to experience how lovely plain boiled potatoes can taste on their own. In fact, if I wasn’t the very disciplined person I am, I might have wolfed down half of the potatoes while ‘tasting’ it. Hey! Don’t roll your eyes.
2. The other interesting thing here is the addition of pickles which I have in the past shied away. But since I had some ready from when I made a batch from Smitten Kitchens recipe, I added some here. Lovely! the crunch and sharp-sweet contrast add little hits of flavour that tease.
3.The spring onions balance the creamy-sweet-chickenyness of the recipe with a bit of a sharpness which is welcome
4. The boiled chicken. Just the juicy juicy jiiiiuucy boiled chicken. Yum!
- Potatoes - 5 Vinegar, preferably Apple Cider - 1T
- Chicken with bone in - .5 kg
- Onion, sliced - 1
- Rosemary - ¼ t
- Spring onion including the greens, finely chopped - ⅓ cup
- Pickle, sweet or dill, finely chopped - 2 to 3 T
- Black raisins - 1T
- Boiled peas - a handful
- Red wine/Balsamic vinegar - ½T
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper
- Mayonnaise, homemade if possible - 3T or so
- Beaten thick curd/cream cheese/cream/sour cream (optional)
- Cherry tomatoes, halved - 5
- Garlic cloves - 6
- Peel the potatoes and slice each one lengthwise in half,then lengthwise in quarters. Now slices, about ½ inch thick.
- Put the chicken with water, sliced onion, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper in a pot and slowly bring to a simmer. Do not let boil.
- Remove the chicken when tender (but not too cooked) and put in the potato slices in a saucepan with water. Simmer and cook the potatoes for 4 to 5 minutes, or until just cooked through. (It is essential that they be just cooked through. Bite into a slice or two to be very sure.)
- Immediately remove from the heat and drain the potatoes into a colander, save the cooking liquid to use as stock for some lovely soup. Tear up the chicken flesh into bite size chunks.
- Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl. Stir in the cider vinegar with ⅓ cup of the stock, turning them gently to distribute it evenly. Let sit 10 minutes to absorb the liquid.
- Put the black raisins with ⅛ c water and the red wine vinegar in the microwave and heat through well. Let stand for 10 mins.
- Add the chicken, spring onions, pickle, drained raisins, boiled peas and season carefully to taste. Top with the mayonnaise (or a mix of mayonnaise and yogurt/cream cheese/sour cream) and, with a large rubber spatula, gently fold everything together until well blended. Taste the salad and add more salt, pepper, or mayonnaise as needed.
- Cover the salad and set aside in the refrigerator for at least an hour or so before serving. If it is refrigerated longer, let it come back to room temperature before serving. Taste and adjust the seasoning again.