GramCeesHouse Chicken Salad

I’ve been a fan of Boar’s Head deli meats for quite some time. However, the prices are getting a bit much and I’ll soon be moving to a location that doesn’t have a Boar’s Head deli. So …. I need to make my own chicken for quick meals instead of living off of deli meats. Even with the lower sodium varieties, deli meats are still pretty salty.  One of my favorites is Chicken Salad on Rye with a slice of Havarti. That’s an any time meal as far as I’m concerned. Here are the steps for make my Chicken Salad:

  • Step 1: Poach the chicken. I used two pounds of thawed boneless skinless chicken breasts for today’s recipe. Put the chicken into a large pot and fill it with enough water to cover the chicken. Put it on the stove on high heat. When it begins to boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Step 2: While the chicken is cooking, chop your vegetables. I use Vidalia onions, carrots and green olives. Put them together into a large bowl. I usually prefer using celery for crunch vs the olives but I was out of celery. You can use any combination of vegetables, fruit or nuts and/or pasta as you prefer. TIP: Elbow macaroni works great. One of my favorite people prefer sweet pickles, green peppers and onions. Just take care not to overwhelm the chicken. I used about 1 cup of onions, half a cup of carrots and about 1/3 cup of olives.

    Vidalia onions, carrots and green olives

    Vidalia onions, carrots and green olives

    • Step 3: Chop the chicken. When the chicken is done, put it onto a chopping board and cut it into small pieces.
Poached Chicken Breast

Poached Chicken Breast

Cooked chopped Chicken Breast

Cooked chopped Chicken Breast

    • Step 4: Mix the veggies. You’ll notice that I haven’t used any seasonings to this point. Now I add seasonings and mayonnaise to the veggies and mix. Today I used about half a teaspoon each of salt, white pepper, garlic power and dill weed and about a cup of mayonnaise; adjust the amount to your liking.
Chicken salad ingredients

Chicken salad ingredients

    • Step 5: Mix in the chicken. Fold the chicken pieces into the veggie mix and you are done.
Chicken salad

Chicken salad

You’ll notice I used a large glass bowl that has a lid. Be sure to cover this and keep refrigerated. It will keep for about 3 days in the fridge. I don’t believe this would freeze well as the onions would become wilted.

Suggestions for serving:

  • By itself in a bowl
  • Atop a lettuce leaf in a bowl – adorn with chopped tomatoes
  • On rye toast with a slice of Havarti (oh yeah)
  • On crackers with some white Zinfandel wine

You can use this same method for tuna fish salad – just add some elbow macaroni for a full meal. I haven’t tried it with any other type of fish – if you do, let me know how it goes.

Enjoy!

Veggie Freeze Out

Vidalias Are Here! Just in time! I’ve waited a whole year and I just ran out of my stock from last year.

Vidalia Onions are the sweetest, best onions on the planet – IMHO — and well they are endorsed by Bobby Flay – check it out here.

So when I spied those lovelies in my store, I grabbed a 5 pound bag and couldn’t wait to put them to work. I also bought some carrots and potatoes that day. As you know, I like to make big batches and use my freezer to store my creations. So today, I chopped and peeled and bagged and froze. It was all good. I’d like to share my process with you in case you would like to freeze some veggies too.

I made two general batches — one roasted and one diced — for the freezer. Here are the steps for the roasted batch:

Step 1: Peel and wash six large russet potatoes, six large Vidalia onions and a bunch of carrots and then chop them into approximate 1 inch pieces. I usually put the carrots and onions in one bowl and the potatoes into a separate bowl. TIP: Larger, thicker pieces take longer to roast than skinny ones – keep the same sized pieces together on one pan for roasting; this allows you to remove all the skinnier pieces at once to keep them from burning while allowing the others to continue roasting.

car_pot_on_chop

Step 2: Bag and season the chopped veggies. TIP: You can do the chopping and seasoning ahead of time by putting the veggies into bags for the refrigerator. Of course you could just season in the bowls to save the bag. I had an appointment so I had to make these ahead today.

veg_season_bag

When seasoning, use olive oil and your choice of herbs and spices. I use half a teaspoon each per bag of rosemary, dill weed, salt and pepper. Seal the bag and shake it up to mix and distribute the oil and seasonings.

seasons

Put the bags in the refrigerator for later or continue on with the roasting.

Step 3: Ready pans and oven. I use foil lined cookie sheets. There is no need to oil the pan as we use olive oil in the seasoning bag. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Step 4: Put the veggies on the pans.

spill_carrot                                                                       spill_pot

Spread them out evenly on the pans, making sure they are laying as flat as possible. TIP: Try to keep the onion in chunk form rather than letting it separate into its layers; individual layers may burn during the roasting.

flat_pot

flat_carrot

Step 4: Roast. Put the pans into the preheated 325 degree F oven. The length of time you let them cook depends on the vegetables you use and their thickness. In this case, I set the time for one and one-half hours. At that time, I’ll test the carrot and onions. The onions should be done at that point. Because these carrots are skinny, they may also be done.

I’ll leave the potatoes in for about 2 hours and then check them using a fork or knife. You should be able to pierce them to find a soft center – that’s when they are done.
Step 5: Remove from the oven. When they are done, remove the pans and let cool on their pans. You can use them immediately or bag them up for the freezer. I usually put them in quart freezer bags and then put the quart freezer bags into a gallon freezer bag. This minimizes freezer burn when removing a small amount at a time from your freezer stock. TIP: Use them for your sides with dinners by warming in the oven or microwave. So good.

I’m sitting here writing this with the wonderful rosemary and dill smell floating around me. Nice!

While the Vidalias are in season, I dice and freeze them in one cup bags for use in recipes throughout the year. It’s very easy; I say that –  I use my Kitchen Ninja to do the dicing. You can do it with a knife or other food processor just as well – just takes longer. (That reminds me, I cracked one of my Ninja pitchers with hot liquid (potato leek soup)  – have to order a replacement.) Here are the steps:

Step 1: Peel and coarse chop the onions. Put them in the Ninja.

load_ninja

pulse_ninja

Dicing is done! I do a few pitchers so I empty them all into a big bowl to make the bagging easier.

Step 2: Bag the onions. I use sandwich bags and a half cup measuring cup to bag the onions. I put one cup into each bag, expel as much air as possible and then put them into quart size freezer bags.

onion_bagged

Step 3: Put them into the freezer. That’s it – you can just pull out one sandwich bag at a time for use in your favorite recipes.

TIP: I wouldn’t use the frozen ones for a raw preparation like a salad; always use fresh onions for raw preps.

Enjoy!