A Very Different Take on a Classic.
When I roast a chicken, we always eat the dark meat first and save the breast meat for another meal. This is one of my favorite ways to eat the white meat. I’ve been singing Nik Sharma’s praises for quite awhile and this recipe is a perfect showcase of his talents. As you will see in the recipe, which I will include with permission from both Nik and Chronicle Books, he provides instructions for cooking a couple of chicken breasts. I simply use the leftover cooked chicken breast. I also end up with a lot more chicken than he calls for in his recipe (about 3 times more than the recipe specifies), but I don’t have to change anything else. There is plenty of dressing for my amount of chicken.
This chicken salad is like no other I’ve ever tasted. First of all, it includes both creme fraiche and plain Greek yogurt. These are the perfect vehicle for all the other ingredients. There’s lemon juice, a little molasses, cayenne pepper, and chopped cashews, among other things. One of the unusual and especially welcome additions is dried blueberries. Another is minced greens from the tops of carrots and celeriac. I don’t usually have celeriac greens available, so I either double up on the carrot top greens or simply add plenty of chopped parsley. I do add a half teaspoon of celery seeds because I think the flavor is great in this.
He also uses anardana seeds, which I’ve been mentioning lately. I am nuts about the flavor of these seeds. They’re worth ordering online if you don’t have access to them locally. Their tart, but sweet flavor is welcome in a lot of recipes. Nik calls for 2 tablespoons of minced shallots, but I use double that amount, simply because I really like a lot of shallots in this.
Last, but not least, he recommends serving this on toasted sourdough bread which has been buttered and then smeared with roasted garlic cloves. I use the bread I posted recently, which I bake and always have on hand. I wish I could adequately describe how delicious all these combinations of flavors and textures are. I make up a batch of this and eat it for several meals. I never tire of it. I like it so much more than mayonnaise based chicken salads. This never gets greasy or slick in texture. It stays creamy and fresh tasting for several days.
Nik’s ability to combine unexpected flavors and come out with something exquisite never comes into question for me. He’s right up there with the greats. And he’s also a very nice guy. When I contacted him and asked for permission to share this recipe, he couldn’t have been more gracious or lovely. Yeah, I’m a huge fan.