Meyer Lemon Chicken Salad

Why buy chicken salad from the store when it is easy to make it yourself? When it comes to anything with mayonnaise, such as tuna or chicken salad and potato salads, I prefer to make it myself. This chicken salad recipe incorporates something from our garden: Meyer lemon juice.

Just a small part of the Meyer lemon harvest
Just a small part of the Meyer lemon harvest

When the lemons are ready, we are overwhelmed with lemons. I give many away and am still overstocked. The solution is to squeeze most of them and freeze the juice in small containers. This way, I have a year-round supply of Meyer lemon juice. And a lot of it. Here are the basic ingredients, to which you can add or subtract. (For instance, some people cannot eat raw red onion.)

  • 1 cup Meyer lemon juice
  • three chicken breasts
  • celery (a few stalks for the poaching liquid & a few for the salad)
  • spices for poaching liquid: handful of pink peppercorns, handful of dried thyme, a bay leaf or two. Anything else you like.
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons (at least) of chopped, fresh parsley
  • Mayonnaise (I prefer Duke’s or Blue Plate)
  • Tabasco sauce
  • tablespoon or two of fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
The finished chicken salad
The finished chicken salad

To Make: First of all, I don’t do everything at once. For example, I was hosting a ladies lunch on a Saturday, so I poached the chicken Friday night and put it in the fridge overnight. In the morning, I placed the cooked chicken on a cutting board and sliced, then diced it before placing in a large mixing bowl. To get started, fill a large pot about two-thirds. Pour in lemon juice and add celery, bay leaves and spices. Bring to a boil and place chicken breasts into the rolling boil. Keep it relatively high heat and cook for 3-5 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Then, remove the chicken with tongs and place in a Tupperware or similar storage container and place in fridge overnight. Discard celery and bay leaves, and pour spicy, lemon water down drain. It may even deodorize your disposal! When you are ready to make the chicken salad, place the diced chicken in the bowl and add the diced red onion, freshly diced celery stalks and freshly chopped parsley. Place about a tablespoon of Dijon mustard in the bowl and about a quarter-cup of mayonnaise. Sprinkle or grind on salt and pepper. Stir it all together with a big spatula until really well combined. Cover bowl and let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving. The serving options are endless. I baked crescent rolls and also had a loaf of store-bought Sourdough bread on hand. The guests were choosing both options. The other fun thing about chicken salad is you can add or substitute ingredients, such as slivered almonds and/or red grape halves. A wonderful accompaniment to chicken salad sandwiches is fruit salad.

Cutting up watermelon for fruit salad

For this ladies lunch, I served two different fruit salads: one was watermelon, pineapple and cantaloupe, and the second one was raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. Rather than put all the fruits in one bowl, I gave the option for the guests of taking either or both. Some people cannot eat seeds, so you want to keep certain berries out of the fruit salad. Another nice thing to serve at a gathering like this is pasta salad.

Velata garden dill
Velata garden dill artisan spice rub goes well with pasta salad

I had made one the night before with orecchiette (little round pasta), chopped arugula, diced red pepper and a dressing that was half Meyer lemon juice and half olive oil. The added special ingredient was a¬†garden dill artisan spice mix. It tasted great the next day. I love entertaining by giving my guests delicious, fresh and colorful foods. I also love being able to do so in a way that doesn’t involve extensive work. Instead, we got to enjoy girls time, eat yummy food and drink Prosecco! I hope you like the Meyer lemon juice poaching idea and the ease of this chicken salad recipe.


The Sage Leopard

A fresh approach to family gatherings: weekend brunch

Coordinating schedules among households for family gatherings has been a jumble until I asked myself why we default to weekend BBQs. Why not brunch? Turned out, the families were all available for a 10 a.m. gathering. IMG_5937Menu planning for a brunch buffet relieved me of worrying about how to get a whole bunch of hot food, e.g., grilled meats, to the table at the same time. Instead, the warm foods were an apple pie, a French toast casserole prepared the night before and some cinnamon rolls popped out of a can. IMG_5934A few minutes before guests were expected, we placed maple turkey bacon and real bacon on the raclette grill. The anchors of the buffet were two different fruit salads. One is my classic standby that is typically in the fridge (and easy to pack for lunches): strawberry, pineapple and blueberry. The other comprised chunks of peeled, Golden Delicious apple, red seedless grapes, cantaloupe chunks, kiwi slices and mint (adopted and corrupted from a Food 52 recipe with similar ingredients). I placed mint atop the berry pineapple salad too. Out came a jug of real Vermont maple syrup and we were all set. I basically poured a cup of coffee, sat back and relaxed watching everyone dig in at their own pace.