Here in New England, the best brand of chicken salad you can buy is called Willow Tree. It’s been here for over 50 years, and people crave it like crack. But I don’t like anything whose ingredients are a well-kept secret, so my task was to make something that was a reasonable Willow Tree facsimile. I got close enough. As always, I use pastured chicken and organic veggies when possible.
1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 pints salt-free chicken stock, preferably home made
1/2 cup mayonnaise, preferably Hellman’s
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons finely chopped Vidalia onion
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Heat the chicken stock in a large pot. Bring to a boil and add the chicken breasts. Bring to a boil again, then simmer uncovered for about 7 minutes. Turn the heat off, cover the pot with a lid, and let the breasts sit in the pot for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the breasts to a cutting board and allow them to cool.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, celery, onion, brown sugar, granulated garlic, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly to combine.
When the chicken has cooled, shred the breast meat into bite-sized pieces and then transfer into the bowl with the mayonnaise mixture. Mix thoroughly and chill before serving.
I love my chicken salad on a Martin’s Long Roll.
BONUS: There’s a lot of tasty chicken stock left over in the pot. I don’t waste it! I chop some carrots, celery and onion and throw it in there. I reserve some of the chicken breast meat–just a bit–and throw it in there, too. I add a little salt and pepper, and a pinch of dried Bouquet Garni. I bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the veggies are al dente.
Makes an awesome chicken soup!