Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chicken Salad and more importantly Hellman's Mayonnaise

There are some things in this world that I just don't feel too strongly about.  Nice cars are fine, but lets be honest, I don't need a car that can go 0 to 60 in 5.2 seconds and really couldn't care less about horsepower, V8 engines or chrome trim.  Fancy gadgets are fun to play with but I tend to drop then before I get the full use of such novelties.  Gourmet coffee, caviar or sparkling bottled water are great for some people but they just really don't peak my interests.  There is one thing, when it come to the kitchen, that I am most adamant about and that, my friends, is Hellman's mayonnaise.  I have tried everything from Miracle Whip to Dukes to homemade mayonnaise and I am here to tell you that any Southern classic ranging from chicken salad, pimento cheese, deviled eggs to egg salad are all made better when made with Hellman's Mayonnaise.  Perhaps it is because I was raised on Hellman's or just maybe it is because it is truly the best!  With that said, there are two things that are important to remember when making homemade chicken salad: 1) the key is in how you cook the chicken and 2) always use Hellman's Mayonnaise!

For a time, especially in college, when I would go visit friends across the great state of Georgia I would search out new and old cookbooks, always looking first to see their recipe for chicken salad.  There are so many varieties and so many different ingredients that can be added but for your traditional chicken salad, here is what I have found works best!

Chicken Salad
4 chicken breast, bone-in, skin on
Celery, divided
Onion, quartered
Carrots, coarsely chopped
lemon pepper
bay leaves
garlic powder
Lawry's Season Salt
Chicken Bouillon cube
Hellman's mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sugar
juice of half of a lemon

In a large pot, cover chicken breasts in water.  Cut the leafy tops off the celery and add to the water.  Add onions, carrots, lemon pepper, bay leaves, garlic powder, season salt, peppercorns and bouillon cube.  I typically don't measure the amounts of the spices but if you feel you need amounts I would do 2 tablespoons of each spice and 2 bay leaves.  Bring everything to a rolling boil and cook that way for 30 to 40 minutes or until the chicken is done.  Remove the pot from the heat and allow the chicken to stand in the broth for at least another 30 minutes to prevent the chicken from drying out.  

Remove the chicken from the bone and shred or chop to the size which you prefer.  Some people like their chicken salad chunkier than others.  Add mayonnaise to desired consistency.  Add sugar and lemon juice.  At this point you can add sliced grapes, walnuts, sliced granny smith apples, and/or celery.  I typically only add diced celery but that is a personal preference.

Salt and pepper to taste. Let sit in the refrigerator over night and serve any way you like it!!

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