Chicken Salad Contessa

by Melissa on April 22, 2008

On The Barefoot Contessa the other day, Ina Garten did a show on classic Contessa recipes. This chicken was one of them. I love the combination of crunchy pecans and walnuts, mixed with the sweet grapes and pieces of moist, flavorful chicken. Speaking of the chicken, normally I poach chicken breasts for chicken salad, never again. Roasting the bone-in breasts made them so moist the flavor was so much better than poaching.

Next time I make this I will probably decrease the tarragon, I thought it was a little strong. Also, I think the salt measurement is a mis-print, the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, I only used 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and it was still a bit salty. I served this chicken salad in a whole wheat pita with iceburg lettuce. I made some other small changes, noted below.

Chicken Salad Contessa

  • 2 split (1 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on (1 1/2 pounds)
  • Good olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts halves
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise (I used light)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I used light)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves, divided ( will use less next time)
  • 1 cup green grapes, cut in 1/2 (I used 1/2 green and 1/2 red seedless grapes)
  • Lettuce leaves, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts, skin side up, on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside until cool.

When the chicken is cool, remove meat from the bones and discard the skin and bones. Cut the chicken into a 3/4-inch dice.

Meanwhile, place the pecans and walnuts on a separate sheet pan and toast in the oven for 7 to 8 minutes until golden. Set aside to cool. I will skip this step next time, and probably just use walnuts.

For the dressing, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, 2 teaspoons salt (start with 1/2 teaspoon and use your judgement, 2 teaspoons is way to much) and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Fold in half the chopped tarragon leaves.

Place the diced chicken in a bowl, add the pecans, walnuts and grapes. Pour the dressing over the chicken and toss well. Sprinkle the remaining chopped tarragon leaves on top, and serve on a bed of lettuce leaves.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

sheila April 22, 2008 at 10:37 am

im putting this on my list of something yummy to make asap!


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