Be a chicken

Sometimes I’m amazed at how far we’ve come from food.

The other day, at my Friends of the Library volunteer gig, I made chicken salad sandwiches. People raved. I mean RAVED. I got compliments all day, requests for the recipe, etc. etc.

What did I do? Some sophisticated trick. Add some truffle oil, a sprinkling of secred herbs, maybe?

Nah, I used . . . well. . . chicken. My theory on why the sandwiches went over so well is that we’re so used to off flavors that when a true, fresh flavor hits us, it’s a revelation. Most prepared sandwich salad mixtures in stores have been treated with chemical preservatives and much chicken we buy has been pumped full of saline solution, so it’s watery, pallid and slightly salty.

Here’s what I did in my immense kitchen wisdom: I bought some skinless, boneless chicken breasts (ones that didn’t indicate they’d had solution added). Threw them in a soup pot of water. Brought the water to a boil. Skimmed the scum from the top. Turned the pot off. Let the pot sit until the chicken was lukewarm (finishes the cooking and allows the juices to be absorbed back into the meat). Fished out the chicken. Chopped it up. Mixed it with plenty of finely chopped celery, mayonnaise and a goodly amount of pepper (no salt because there’s lot in mayonnaise). Put it on bread.

Simple pleasures, my friends.

By the way, I was tempted to dump the chicken broth because I was busy, but the ghost of Grandmas past wouldn’t let me. So the it became dinner, again ultra-simple. Boiled it down to about half strength. Threw in bone-in, skin- on chicken thighs (about six). Brought chicken to a boil, gently simmered a half-hour or so. Removed chicken and discarded skin and bones; returned meat to broth. Had some leftover cream of mushroom soup (about a cup) and threw that in. Heated it through.  Did not add one more thing. Called it chicken stew. Served it over rice. Husband happy. Lunch made for the next day.

The morals of the story: Start with real food. Don’t waste.

I’m off to make more (d—-ed) sandwiches.


  1. Susan

    June 28, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Hi Wanda,
    Sounds great! Thanks for the tip about bringing the water to a boil then turning it off & leaving the chicken inside to finish cooking. I’ve made the mistake of boiling chicken to death in the pot before, have recently learned enough to simmer after the initial boil instead of leaving it at a rolling boil, but this sounds even better. I also love how you avoid wasting food. I need all the tips I can get for that. =)

  2. Gigi

    July 6, 2010 at 10:38 am

    What do you think about cooking chicken in a bit of water in the crock pot for use in chicken dishes? I do it, but my husband thinks it loses texture when I do that? Mahalo!

  3. Wanda

    July 6, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    I’m not a big chicken in a crock pot fan because the cooking time is so long that the chicken begins to shred so I agree with your husband. Chicken is actually very delicate. Very quick-cooking and easy to take over the line.

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