'Twas the weekend before Passover and my mom was in menu mode. Cookbooks, magazines, and newspaper clippings cluttered the counter, the messy piles burgeoning as the week went on.
Though guests were limited to immediate family this year, my mother was still plagued by the usual planning predicaments: which of of the three flourless chocolate cake recipes she should make - with almonds or not? - and should the charoset have dried fruit or just nuts. Clasping recipes she cornered me in the laundry room for consultation. Almonds sound good, as does some fruit in the charoset, and let's have fruit for dessert as well, while we're at it.
It's a wonder that the simplest part of the meal to plan is also everyone's favorite. Chicken soup necessitates no questions, just a day at home to monitor its simmering. I learned a trick this year: rescue the chicken breast from the pot early on, after it's cooked and donated its flavor, before it falls apart, rendering itself unusable. You're left with a gorgeously poached breast, and one logical conclusion: when your mother makes chicken soup, you make chicken salad.
I'm a momma's girl, I guess. Her chicken salad is the only chicken salad that I eat. When my mom proposed that I be the one to transform the leftovers from her soup into something a little more interesting I was only a little taken aback. I had jumped when she suggested chicken salad, of course, but I had a hankering for hers and hers alone. With her version in mind I embarked on a successful journey this morning.
This recipe should be more suggestion than strict direction. The measurements are all approximations and catered to accommodate my love-hate relationship with both chicken and mayonnaise. The salad is therefore chock-full of sweet and crunchy additions and, some would say, light on mayo. Put in what you like, take out what you don't, and enjoy!
2 boiled chicken breasts (chicken prepared any way would do, use what you have)
1 -1 1/2 apples, whatever kind you have on hand, chopped into small cubes
1 c dried cranberries
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1/3 red onion, diced
2 tsp honey mustard
3 tbs mayonnaise
generous amounts of salt and pepper, especially pepper
Shred apart or coarsely chop chicken. If the chicken is unsalted and bland, you can salt it a bit here. If not, add the seasonings after all of the ingredients are combined. In a bowl, combine chicken pieces with the chopped apple, celery, and onion, and the cranberries. Mix to distribute. Add in the mayonnaise and honey mustard. Mix to coat the chicken well. Taste and season, adding more of anything if needed.