I was recently invited to help with a wedding shower for a sweet, sweet girl who also happens to be of the millennial generation. From what I’ve been told these young men and women are more than reluctant to entertain because they just don’t know how. I was fortunate in that my mother was all about the party and although she didn’t cook she was a great hostess, always in the know about the town’s premier caterers, florists and bartenders. Mama made certain we, my sisters and brother, all knew how to prep the house before a party, how to lay a table and how to arrange the flowers in every room. I am eternally thankful. Over the years I’ve built up a stable of no-fail recipes for all manner of get-togethers. Here in the South chicken salad is the queen of ladies luncheons, wedding and baby showers and lunch out with the girls. This curried chicken salad recipe is outstanding in flavor, ease and portability. It actually should be prepared one day in advance of serving thus freeing up more precious time. I’ve taken it to the Keys for Girl’s Weekend in a gallon size freezer bags and to friend’s houses in plastic quart containers for baby showers and funerals. I’m telling you, it travels well. The sweetness of the curry, pineapple and banana marry well with the savory flavors of the roasted chicken, celery and Greek yoghurt. There is a slight departure from the Southern chicken salad rule. In the South only white meat, the breast, is used. Thigh meat or any dark meat in this dish is considered downright trashy but I’m here to say that’s old school! I find solely using breast meat leaves your salad flat and lacking somewhat in flavor whereas the addition of dark meat gives an added richness and succulence. And by all means, take advantage of grocery store rotisserie chickens. Many a time I’ve used them and do they save time. I use my hands to pick off every bit of skin and and fat. If the grocery store birds are small you’ll need two. If large, one will suffice. Lordy, but it’s good. Whether or not you toast the pecans is strictly up to you. Toasted or untoasted, both yield a gorgeous flavor. A fat dollop of chutney on top is a lovely touch and won’t be unnoticed by your guests. I typically use whatever homemade I have on hand but on those occasions I’ve been without I use Crosse & Blackwell’s Hot Mango Chutney. It’s not really hot; in fact it’s barely spicy and the chutney needs to have a little backbone if you are going to include it in this dish. The salad may be plated on a bed of baby greens or as a sandwich on crunchy French bread. Along side some sliced fresh fruit and a handful of cold, lightly steamed haricot vert you will have a luncheon to be proud of!
Curried Chicken Salad
- 3 1/2 cups cubed roasted chicken
- 1 1/4 cups finely diced celery
- 1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks, drained
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted or untoasted, cashews may be substituted
- 2 medium bananas, sliced just before serving
- 1 cup homemade or good mayonnaise, (Duke’s is my preferred)
- 1/2 cup Greek plain yoghurt
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- chutney, (optional)
- In a large bowl combine roasted chicken, pineapple, celery and pecans. Set aside.
- In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, yoghurt, curry powder, salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Add curry mix to chicken and gently toss until all ingredients are completely coated.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.
- Right before serving slice bananas and gently fold into salad until completely coated with curry dressing.
- Serve chutney on the side or atop each portion of chicken salad.