Dr. O and I finally had our first picnic of the summer last week. He loves – and I mean loves – ’80s music, so I thought it would be fun for us to check out That Eighties Band (music will play when the window opens – beware! ) when they played a free outdoor concert at the Streets of Southglenn. An outdoor concert definitely equals a picnic event, so I set to planning the perfect menu.
I decided to plan the meal around a recipe I’ve wanted to try for a long time: Ina Garten’s Curried Chicken Salad. For sides, I went with extremely easy, portable treats: grapes, pepper strips with hummus, and homemade chocolate chip cookies. It was picnic perfection. I enjoyed the chicken salad so much that I made it again on Monday, but this time I took pictures. Here’s Ina’s recipe if you’d like to give it a try:
Curried Chicken Salad
3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good mayonnaise (recommended: Hellman’s)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chutney (recommended: Major Grey’s)
3 tablespoons curry powder
1 cup medium-diced celery (2 large stalks)
1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and dice the chicken into large bite-size pieces.
For the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, wine, chutney, curry powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until smooth.
Combine the chicken with enough dressing to moisten well. Add the celery, scallions, and raisins, and mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Add the cashews and serve at room temperature.
Source: Ina Garten/FoodNetwork.com
If you like curry, this chicken salad is simply the best. It’s creamy (mayo), crunchy (celery and cashews), sweet (raisins), and spicy (curry and scallions). I could happily eat it at least once a week for the rest of my life, and it’s my new go-to summer recipe. Yum, yum, yum!
In the interest of full disclosure, I did modify the recipe a bit the second time around since it has three small issues: One, the full-fat mayo and the olive oil are heavy on calories; two, you end up with far more dressing than you need if you make the recipe as written; three, there’s absolutely no need to dirty the food processor in order to make the dressing. Here’s my lightened, easier version, which is still incredibly delicious:
Lighter Curried Chicken Salad
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Curried Chicken Salad
Makes four 1-cup servings
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
3/4 cup light mayonnaise (recommended: Hellman’s Light)
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons chutney (recommended: Major Grey’s)
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 cup medium-diced celery
2 tablespoons chopped scallions, white and green parts (1 large scallion)
2 tablespoons raisins
1/4 cup whole roasted, salted cashews
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the chicken breast and boil for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside until cool enough to handle. Chop the chicken into bite-size pieces.
For the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, wine, chutney, curry powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine.
Combine the chicken and the dressing. (You’ll use most, if not all of it.) Add the celery, scallions, and raisins, and mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon of cashews and serve at room temperature.