Fall Chicken Salad – Backyard Poultry

Story and Photos by Rita Heikenfeld

What is it about chicken salad that has universal appeal? Maybe it’s the fact that you can start out basically with a blank canvas of chicken and pantry ingredients and wind up with any number of combos.

Fall chicken salad can be plain, fancy, or somewhere in between. Toss in some nuts and fresh or dried fruit and you’ll have a deli-worthy chicken salad to enjoy. It all depends on you!

Autumn is the perfect time to enjoy chicken salad. Fall days spent outdoors leave little time for making a hearty and filling meal. With chicken salads, most of the prep can be made ahead of time.

Babz Goldman’s chicken salad with both mayonnaise and yogurt in the dressing is equally good as a sandwich or piled into hollowed-out tomatoes.
Hot chicken salad is still a standby on many a hostess’ menu for a bridge-playing day. The bonus with this casserole is that it can be reheated, and the potato chip topping stays crisp. Perfect for a chill-chasing, tummy-satisfying lunch or supper.

I’ve enjoyed classic chicken salad the way my friend Betty Howell makes it. Her secret is using chicken tenderloins, which are quick to cook and easy to chop.

Curried chicken salad is one of my personal favorites. I’m sharing recipes for that, also.

So, do yourself a favor — take a look at these recipes, then add your own creative touches!

Betty’s classic fall chicken salad served with apple and red onion slices for a sharp, sweet flavor.

Betty’s Classic Chicken Salad

A talented cook, Betty and I have taught numerous classes together. She’s what I call a “sensory cook.” Betty doesn’t measure ingredients to the exact amounts but rather “goes to taste” as she mixes up this chicken salad. Follow Betty’s guidelines and this just may become your signature chicken salad!

3 pounds chicken tenderloins, cooked and finely chopped into bite-sized pieces
Real mayonnaise ­— start with 11/3 cups
1 to 1½ teaspoons onion salt or to taste
3 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
3 ribs celery, finely chopped
2 cups walnuts, finely chopped

Place chicken, mayonnaise, salt, and mustard in large bowl and combine, making sure all chicken is coated well and with enough mayonnaise to your taste.
Stir in celery and walnuts. Adjust seasonings.

Hot Chicken Salad With Sage and Thyme

As with all chicken salads, a little more or less of any one ingredient is just fine. This is more like a casserole, and a family favorite. I like to pair it with some fresh seasonal fruit.

2 generous cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
½ cup slivered almonds (optional)
½ to 1 teaspoon dried sage
½ to 1 teaspoon dried thyme or more to taste
Lemon juice to taste — start with 2 tablespoons
2 cups mayonnaise
8 ounces shredded cheddar or Colby cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups crushed potato chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Spray an ovenproof 9-by-9-inch casserole dish.
Combine chicken, onion, celery, almonds, sage, and thyme.
Stir in lemon juice, mayonnaise, and cheese.
Add salt and pepper, and spoon into prepared casserole.
Top with crushed chips.
Bake 20 minutes or until hot.

Babz Goldman Nartowicz’s Autumn Chicken Salad

Babz is a colleague of mine and she and her husband, Alex, are chef-owners of Babz Bistro, a popular food truck in downtown Maysville, Kentucky. Bab’s chicken salad is a customer favorite, especially during the fall season.

Chicken Salad Ingredients
3 cups cooked chicken, chopped or pulled
1 apple, peel left on, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped finely
¼ cup red onion, diced
½ cup grapes, sliced in half
⅓ cup mayonnaise
⅓ cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix chicken, apple, celery, onions, and grapes together.
Whisk dressing ingredients together, then pour over chicken mixture and toss gently.

Simple curried chicken salad is good cold, with acidic tomatoes, or hot, served over rice.

Curried Chicken Salad With Apricot Preserves Dressing

I’m a curry fan. Divide this in half for a smaller batch, or double for a larger one. Just don’t overdo the curry powder. The curry flavors “bloom” as the chicken salad sits. The apricot preserves lend a slightly sweet component to the tangy rice vinegar.

Chicken Salad Ingredients
4 cups cooked chicken, diced
4 ribs celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 cups red grapes, cut in halves
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted if desired
½ cup golden raisins or currants

1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup half & half
½ cup apricot preserves
¼ cup rice vinegar
1½ to 2 tablespoons curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk dressing ingredients together. Gently fold the dressing into the salad and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. This gives the curry time to meld with the other ingredients.

Simple Curried Chicken Salad

Depending on how strong the onion is, you may not need all of it.

1 pound cooked chicken, diced into bite-size pieces
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 small white onion, finely chopped — you may not need all
¼ cup chopped dried fruit, your choice
1 small apple, diced into bite-size pieces
½ to 1 teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon dry mustard or squirt of Dijon mustard
½ to 1 cup mayonnaise, to taste

Combine chicken, celery, onion, raisins, and apples together. Set aside.
Whisk together curry powder, mustard, and mayonnaise.
Pour over chicken mixture and combine well.

RITA Heikenfeld comes from a family of wise women in tune with nature. She’s a certified modern herbalist, culinary educator, author, and national media personality. Most important, she is a wife, mom, and grandma. Rita lives on a little patch of heaven overlooking the East Fork River in Clermont County, Ohio. She’s a former adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati, where she developed a comprehensive herbal course.
abouteating.com column: rita@communitypress.com

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