Chicken salad with cranberries, walnuts and tarragon - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I love when things just come together.  Last week I wanted to take some summer salads to a friend and her husband who recently had a baby.  I had most of a rotisserie chicken in the fridge and thought “chicken salad”!  But then felt a little discouraged because I’ve only made very simple chicken salads in the past – I love them, but would not feel good about giving them as a gift.  So I went to Smitten Kitchen, where I go when in need of some good ideas, and was delighted to find this recipe.  My friend Jane is of Ukrainian/Georgian heritage where lots of dishes have walnuts and tarragon in them.  Shazam!  Everyone, me included, deemed it a hit!  When Margaux saw it on Pinterest, she said “Yum”, so decided to try it out with her family.  One thing that Deb of SK said is that her husband doesn’t like chicken salad, so I was wondering about Jason’s reaction.  Jane’s hubbie, Cameron, liked it a lot.  Randy already said he’s not interested in trying it, but that won’t stop me from making it again!

Margaux says . . .

I was a little worried, actually, about whether Jason would like it or not.  Sometimes he’s really picky about things like that, and will only like traditional style, especially if it has something sweet in it like craisins or grapes.  But, to my surprise, he loved it!  I think it was the brined chicken…it was very tender and delicious (see instructions below).  This salad will definitely be on heavy rotation this summer.

Ingredients

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

4 cups cubed (1/2 inch) cooked chicken (AS used leftover rotisserie chicken, Margaux brined some chicken breasts, see below)
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 celery rib, diced into small bits (1 cup) (AS used 3 medium celery ribs, Margaux used just one)
2 or more tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 cup dried cranberries (AS would use less next time, but everone else liked this amount)
1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise (AS used 1/2 cup mayo, Margaux used 3/4 cup…she likes mayo!)
3 tablespoons vinegar, tarragon, if you have it,champagne or white wine  (AS used juice from 1/2 lemon)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon or herb or your choice (AS used probably 1/4 cup tarragon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Throw the first 5 ingredients into a large bowl.  Make a dressing by combining the mayo, vinegar or lemon and the salt and pepper.  Whisk to blend. Add the dressing to the bowl and stir (or use hands) to combine thoroughly.  This can be done ahead of serving.  Add the tarragon before serving and stir to combine.

Brining and poaching the chicken:

Dissolve 2 tbsp table salt in 2 cups of water in a medium bowl or gallon sized Ziplock baggie.  Add 1 3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts to it and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Remove chicken, rinse and pat dry before using.  Then poach it in water for 15-20 minutes, until the internal temp reaches 160 degrees.

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