Monday, August 7, 2017

The Great Chicken Salad Throw Down: A Chicken Salad Competition Like No Other

A few weeks ago when I was in Fort Lauderdale {my hometown} with my sisters, we had a cooking competition to beat all cooking competitions.  Blood, sweat, and tears were shed over this epic battle. Themes and strategies were well thought out and in the end, everyone won because we had a flipping amazing lunch.

What am I talking about?  Oh just the greatest idea ever, compliments of bestie Florida. 

The Great Chicken Salad Competition.

Florida is creative and sweet and knows that chicken salad is one of my most favorite foods.  I've made her go to great lengths on occasion to hunt down a chicken salad sandwich with me.  So she proposed this game plan on our one day when all the kids would be in camp.

This is how we go crazy on a kid free day. 

We made chicken salad.  Times four.  And it will forever live as one of my absolute favorite memories from 2017.

So here's how it all played out.  

Florida roasted up four giant chicken breasts to perfection in the morning, giving them time to cool before we started using them.  She provided all the basics like mayo and the contents of her spice cabinet and pantry.  We each brought our own specific ingredients.  Florida also set up prep stations for everyone, with bowls and spoons and everything needed to make chicken salad magic.

Now let me note that I thought that we were each just making a small salad and would each taste a spoon from everyone's small bowls.  I didn't realize until I got there that there were themes and serving platters and pairings happening too.

When Little Sister mentioned needing to run to the store to pick up the wine for her pairing, we took a field trip.  Like a gang of wild and crazy 30-somethings who lost their damn minds making chicken salad on a Thursday morning and were cackling like hyenas through the whole process.  But then...we all decided we needed pairings.  Little Sister came up with the idea but we all found our way to some fun beverages to pair up with our salads.

While part of me wishes I had given this more thought, I stand by my recipe.  I make a variation of this quite often and I just love it.

Curry with Cashews and Apricots Chicken Salad:

* Chicken, shredded
* Mayo
* Curry Powder
* Chopped Cashews
* Garlic Powder
* Chopped Dried Apricots
* Salt and Pepper to taste

I served my Curry Chicken Salad with Cashews and Apricots and on mini croissants and paired it with prosecco.  Because bubbly goes with everything.  Duh.

Loaded Baked Potato Chicken Salad:

* Chicken
* Mayo {1/3}
* Sour Cream {2/3}
* Crispy Bacon
* Shredded Cheddar Cheese
* Chopped Scallions
* Salt and Pepper to taste

This one was Godsister's and it was awesome.  It would also make a great dip if you pulsed about half of it in the food processor and mixed the two halves together.  She served it atop a classic Lays Ruffle Potato Chip and paired with with a Miller Lite.  

Classic With A Twist Club Chicken Salad:

* Chicken, chopped
* Mayo
* Chopped Cilantro
* Crispy Bacon Bits
* Chopped Avocado
* Chopped Tomato
* Pickled Red Onion
* Crispy Chicken Skin

Florida was the mastermind behind this one and it was awesome.  The avocado made it extra creamy and the cilantro, which isn't one of my favorite ingredients, really made it sing.  She served it on a sweet Hawaiian roll and paired it with a hard ginger ale.  And while the pairing was such a good idea, it turns out none of us liked the hard ginger ale, which did not taste like a classic, refreshing ginger ale, and instead was syrupy sweet.  The competition however was solely based on the chicken salad as the pairings were last minute {for everyone but Little Sister} and mostly for giggles.

Light And Bright Chicken Salad:

* Chicken, chopped
* Mayo with Lemon Juice and Lemon Zest
* Arugula, finely chopped
* Parsley, finely chopped
* Green Onion
* Lemon Zest to garnish
* Thinly sliced cucumber to garnish

Little Sister took this competition seriously and it was awesome.  The lemon zest did it for me!  She served it on toasted, homemade sourdough crostini, topped with a thinly sliced cucumber, and garnished with lemon zest and paired with a lovely unoaked Chardonnay.

We all voted but weren't allowed to vote for ourselves, which was not a challenge for me as I loved all of theirs much more than mine.  Theirs were creative and new and I felt silly that I didn't give this more thought beforehand.  Next year I will be prepared for whatever competition we come up with!

The winner was....

Little Sister with her Light and Bright Chicken Salad!  It was outstanding!  And lived up to it's name as it was in fact both light...and bright.

Second place, it seems, was actually more exciting.  So second place went to....

Florida with her Classic With A Twist Club Chicken Salad!  I've never seen anyone more sincerely delighted to get second place.  She may or may not have been chocked up over the honor.  But...we also consumed a lot of alcohol for noon on a Thursday so it's possible that was a factor.  

This was one of the most delightful ways to spend an afternoon with the people I love most in this world.  I walked away with an awesome memory and four solid recipes to make for a lifetime.

Side note: Little Sister, Florida, and I ate leftovers the following day and all decided mine tasted far better after sitting in the fridge for 24 hours.  So if you make the Curry Chicken Salad, do your taste buds a favor and make it a day in advance!

What's your favorite chicken salad recipe?  And do you have any ideas for next year's competition?  We're thinking of tacos but are open to other ideas.  



MCW said...

I now want chicken salad for lunch! Sounds like a fun day!

A and W said...

These all look so good! My favorite chicken salad comes from a Pinterest recipe I modified. It uses cream cheese (instead of mayo) plus plenty of balsamic vinegar and diced shallots, seasoned with garlic powder, salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning. Great on a croissant or toasted wheat with mixed greens and Dijon. So good! For storebought, I love the buffalo from Chicken Salad Chick. Enjoy reading your blog! :)


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