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~ A Peachy All-White-Meat 'Melanie' Chicken Salad ~

IMG_2447Chicken salad -- I'm persnickity about it.  If the chicken is the least bit dry, or kinda gray looking because it's made with leg and thigh meat, I won't touch it.  It's gotta be moist, fork tender, nicely seasoned and snowy white.  Poaching chicken breasts or tenders in a mild court bouillon accomplishes all of that (and feel free to do it), but, for me, there is nothing tastier than the juicy white meat pulled away from the breast bone of a perfectly-roasted whole chicken.

"You can always judge the quality of a cook or a restaurant by roast chicken." ~ Julia Child

IMG_8322Rotisserie chicken is not my "gig".  It takes all the sport out of cooking.  I roast chickens.  I have roasted many chickens in my life, and, I've been roasting chickens since before some of you were born.  I've never served roasted chicken to a guest that didn't mention how moist and perfectly cooked it was and ask how in the world I got it that way.

Everyone and anyone who cooks has an opinion on roasting chicken, and, mine is quite basic:  One six-pound chicken, a 350 degree oven and two hours of the chicken's time.

Click on the Related article link below, ~ This Woman's Way to Roast the Perfect Chicken + My Stressfree "Carving for Dummies" Methodology ~.  to learn everything you need to know.

IMG_2447A few days ago I wrote a post ~ Maurice Salad Dressing and Mel's Maurice Salad ~ (recipe is in Categories 2 or 26).  FB readers commented on how the dressing would be great used in other ways. I'm continuing the conversation. It is indeed great on any sandwich you'd put mayo on, used as a dressing for any mayo-based potato or macaroni salad, and, if you are a lover of chicken or tuna salad looking for a new twist on the classics, "what's old is new". This retro dressing is dynamite in place of typical mayo concoctions.

Maurice Salad Dressing isn't just for Maurice Salad!

IMG_2195Who was Maurice?  Most people will tell you he was the chef or a chef at J.L. Hudson's (a famous Detroit department store that later became Marshall Field's), because it is, more-likely-than-not:  true. Sadly however, there's no written record of a chef named Maurice or which in-store restaurant his salad debuted in.  As a culinary history buff, I hate it when details like that fade into obscurity -- I'm still lamenting taking a pair of scissors  IMG_2132to their classy-looking credit card when Macy's took over and issued me a new card with their logo.

That said, there's no disputing that the Maurice chef salad (which could have been named for a customer, a relative, a salesperson, etc.) was the #1 selling menu item in the history of all the Field's Michigan restaurants.  The dressing, a lemony, onion-juice-laced mayo concoction containing tiny bits of hard-cooked egg was, and is, amazing.  Luckily, the recipe for the salad and the dressing are documented on page 33 of The Marshall Field's Cookbook.

Canned peaches w/roast chicken & chicken salad?  You betcha!

IMG_2355The shelf life of freshly-picked peaches is short and a perfectly-ripe peach has a shelf life of one day.  When I was growing up, my grandmother had two peach trees, and, whatever she did while tending to them, they produced the most flavorful peaches I ever tasted.  I'll bet the people who live there now say the same thing.  As they ripened, over the course of a few days every year, she canned the peaches in batches. Don't ask me why or where she came up with the combo, but, her fresh or canned peaches were always served as a sweet side dish to her savory hot roast chicken, cold chicken salad or chicken sandwiches.

IMG_2346For Mel's Amped-Up Maurice Salad Dressing (yields 3 cups), combine:

4  teaspoons white vinegar

4  teaspoons fresh lemon juice

4  teaspoons bottled onion juice*

4  teaspoons sugar

4  teaspoons Dijon mustard and 3/4 teaspoon dry English mustard

1/2  teaspoon celery seed

IMG_2341freshly-ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste (Note:  I use 30 coarse grinds of sea salt and 50 coarse grinds of pepper.)

2  cups mayonnaise

1/4  cup finely-chopped parsley

2  hard-cooked eggs, finely-diced

*A bit about about onion juice:  This is an ingredient I keep on-hand. Available everywhere it's not easy to locate -- usually it's amongst the dressings, juices or spices. Mostly, it's easier to ask, "where do you keep the onion juice!"

IMG_2367For the chicken salad (yields 6 cups/6 servings), prep as follows:

4 cups (1 pound) hand-pulled roasted chicken breast

1  cup finely-diced yellow or sweet onion (4 ounces)

1  cup finely-diced celery (4 ounces)

1  cup finely-diced hard-cooked egg, whites and yolks diced separately (2 eggs/4 ounces)

1 1/2 cups Mel's Amped-Up Maurice Salad Dressing

IMG_2373 IMG_2376 IMG_2381Place all ingredients in a large bowl, thoroughly combine and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least two hours.  Just prior to serving, stir, taste and add additional dressing, if necessary, in small amounts, to achieve desired taste and consistency.  I added an additional 6 tablespoons of dressing today.

IMG_2395For the salad assembly:

6  cups 1/4"-1/2" "chiffonade" of iceberg lettuce ("shredded" )

6  cups all-white-meat 'Maurice' chicken salad, well-chilled

3-4 perfectly-ripe fresh or home-canned peach slices per portion (1/2 peach per portion)

6  thin slices date & nut bread, sliced in half, slathered with cream cheese and sandwiched together to make six, small tea sandwiches (1 per portion)

Place a 1-cup bed of lettuce on each of six serving plates.  Top each with a generous portion of chicken salad and decoratively arrange the peach slices to the side.  Grind some salt and pepper over the chicken salad, place a tea sandwich on each plate and serve immediately:

IMG_2440Have a Peachy-Keen Valentine's Day today!

IMG_2401A Peachy All-White-Meat 'Melanie' Chicken Salad:  Recipe yields 3 cups of Mel's Amped-Up Maurice Salad Dressing, 6 cups of All-White-Meat 'Maurice' Chicken Salad.  This is enough for 6 main course servings or 8-10 luncheon-sixed servings.

Special Equipment List:  whisk; cutting board; chef's knife; large, shallow salad bowl and salad servers; serrated bread knife; heart-shaped cookie cutter (optional)

IMG_2305Cook's Note:  I prefer dates to raisins in many culinary applications because they are softer, plumper and sweeter.  When I was a child, we used to make small tea sandwiches by sandwiching some cream cheese between two slices of date-nut bread.  I adored them and they complement this chicken salad perfectly. My version of my grandmother's recipe ~ Back to Basics, Plain & Simple, Date & Nut Bread ~ can be found in Categories 5, 12 or 20.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)


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