My first memory of chicken salad was in Iran. It was the summer of 1977, and my family and I were visiting the Irani side of the family. I was in the back seat, next to my mother , brother, and an aunt. One of my Uncles was driving and my father was in the front passenger seat maneuvering the winding road that leads through dessert mountains on our way to the Irani homestead in Kashan. Next to my feet, in a navy canvas bag, I spied with my little eye, crustless rectangular sandwiches filled with….something. I was short and round (I'm still short and round) but attentive and quiet as a cat when my chubby little hands were in search of food. I had discovered Salad Olivieh.
Salad Olivieh is the Persian version of chicken salad… or some say potato salad… I say chicken salad. Shredded roasted chicken mixed with a mayonnaise (and a little mustard), potato, early green peas, chopped dill pickle and of course saffron. Can’t forget the saffron.
The drive from Teheran to Kashan was long, and according to the home movies winding and treacherous when maneuvering the two-lane road up and down mountains to get to the family homestead… but it was also a delicious drive. I think also a testimony to my stealth like handiwork on finishing off half of the family’s lunch without being noticed. It could have also been my exhausted mother knowing exactly what I was doing and thinking “as long as you’re preoccupied have at it.” Whatever the case, I was satisfied and have never forgotten the delicious flavor and first experience of Persian chicken salad.
Chicken salad can be whatever you want. My requirements for a chicken salad are easy: Never boiled, always white and dark meat, and never chunks. I prefer the chicken roasted instead of boiled poached, a combination of white and dark meat, and the chicken hand shredded instead of perfectly cut squared off chunks. The rest is up to you and whatever you have available. I hope you enjoy today’s version of chicken salad. I say today because who knows what tomorrow's chicken salad recipe could be. Also, I highly recommend having a plan B for lunch when there are chubby little hands near.
Chicken Salad 7.27.16
1 2- 2 1/2pound roasted chicken, with meat pulled and shredded (about 3 cups)
1 cup cooked Farro
LaVash bread or flat bread for your “wrap”
shredded arugula for the wrap
Quick Pickled cucumber, red pepper, and ginger julienne*
For the Arugula Mayo:
3 cups fresh arugula
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon or to taste In The Kitchen With Scotty “Cook’s Line Seasoning”
1 1/2 cups grapeseed oil
For the Quick Pickled Julienne:
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 star anise (or pickling spice if you have it)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup each julienne cucumber, onion, red bell pepper, and fresh ginger
Bring the vinegar, sugar, and spices to a boil for 5 minutes. Add the julienne vegetables and remove from the heat. Let stand for 20 minutes.
- Either roast and chill, or pick up and chill a rotisserie chicken from your local market. Hand pull and shred the meat. Set aside.
- In a food processor, add the fresh arugula and egg yolks. Process that down as far as you can into a puree. Add the lemon juice, and Cook’s Line Seasoning, and mix more. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the grapeseed oil. the mixture will start to build up as the steady slow stream of the oil emulsifies with the egg yolks to bring your mayonnaise together. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Chill around 30 minutes to set up and allow the flavors to develop.
- In a mixing bowl, add your chicken, the farro, and one cup of the arugula mayo. Mix together until combined. Lay out the LaVash bread, and add fresh arugula to the center. Place about a half cup of the chicken salad on top. Fold in the bottom of the laVash, then each side to envelop and wrap your chicken salad. Top with pickled julienne to garnish and have at it!