26 September 2010

Chicken Salad with a Twist

First off, I do have to apologize for the lateness of this post. I spent all day drawing bones which takes much longer than I expected. Now lets forget about the ache in my right hand and take our minds to another paradise. Antigua and Barbuda is much like Belize with bright blue seas and sparkling beaches. Unlike Belize which is landlocked, this country is actually composed to two islands located in the Caribbean separated by only a few miles. At one time the islands were used extensively for producing cotton, tobacco, sugar cane, and the production of other goods. As a result, many of the workers were slaves and so nowadays the majority are those who are descendants of the slaves who were brought from Africa to work in the fields. The islands were also under British rule until they gained independence in 1981, however the official language has remained English and British customs like afternoon tea and sandwiches are still very common in daily life.

Now the islands are producers of pineapple, bananas, and other fruits and vegetables that thrive in the tropical climate. Staples on the islands are those common all over the world such as rice, beans, and corn. Being surrounded by water has allowed shellfish to have a large role in the cuisine, however chicken and preserved meats are also very common. Typical meals can be anything from grilled fish to stews called pepper pots which contain meats and vegetables as well as Indian curry inspired dishes such as curried chicken salad, which is what I intended to make since it was fused with the exotic flavors of the island.

I have nice enough parents that are willing to play a game of chicken trade-off where I sent some raw chicken breasts home with mom who gave them to dad who grilled them and sent them back to work with mom for me to pick up. It was like hot potato. I just couldn't imagine making this salad any other way though and felt that in this case I needed the slightly smoky flavor of grilled chicken to help compliment the rest of the ingredients. I was not wrong, the grilled chicken really heightens the other flavors in this. The recipe I found also used mango chutney, which I couldn't find in stores, so I made my own. I was actually a little wary about making chutney since 1-I had never made it before and 2-I thought it would take forever since I thought it was more of a preserve. After searching for a recipe I was amazed and relieved that it only took about half an hour to make on a stove top and required easy to find ingredients, most of which I had already. I actually made the chutney a day in advance just in case something were to go horribly wrong, but it was very much like making a type of soup where all you really have to do is chop everything up and toss it in a pot in the right order. Not to mention, I'm sure my homemade stuff was better than anything found in a jar sitting on a shelf.

For me the best thing about this chicken salad was that it didn't use that much mayonnaise, which I always find is way overused in salad recipes, and with the chutney, pineapple bits, and curry the flavor is definitely unique with a tropical twist. I was actually afraid it would be too sweet, but with some romaine, toasted bread, and the grilled chicken, it only had a hint of sweet and was actually a little tangy from the lemon juice. I really enjoyed the flavor of this one and this has been the first meal that I have made for myself which can be grabbed out of the fridge, no reheating necessary, whipped up and taken to class for lunch. For this reason specifically I chose this sandwich recipe the minute I read about it in The World Cookbook for Students. I always try to find other types of dishes than just those that are served hot or required the extensive use of an oven or stove. I will be playing around with curry chicken salads in the future to see what other fun things I can add to give them a little "oomph."

1 comment:

  1. Servings: I got at least 6 sandwiches out of this one

    3 cups of grilled boneless chicken breasts, cut into small cubes or shredded (about 4 chicken breasts)
    1/2 cup raisins – I didn’t have these and didn’t see the point of buying a whole bag for 1/2 cup, so I omitted them, grapes would probably be better in my opinion
    8 oz pineapple tidbits – I used crushed pineapple
    1/4 – 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    3 Tbsp mango chutney – If you can’t find any or if it’s outrageously pricey, google a recipe and make it, it’s way cheaper and probably much tastier
    1 Tbsp curry powder
    1 lemon, juiced
    romaine lettuce
    Toasted bread or baguette

    1. In a large bowl, combine chicken with raisins and pineapple.
    2. In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, chutney, curry, and lemon juice.
    3. Pour over chicken and stir to combine. Let flavors meld for an hour in the refrigerator.
    4. Slice baguette(s) in half long-ways and brush the inside with olive oil. Spread open and grill the inside over medium heat until just toasted. Or toast regular bread for a simplified and faster version.
    5. Lay lettuce leaves on the bottom of the baguette. Spoon the chicken salad on top of it. Shut the lid, slice into individual sandwiches, and serve!