Dirty Little Secret by The All-American Rejects
Oh Joey, Joey, Joey! You make me laugh! He has ruined Chicken Salad as the wholesome down-home food that it is. I'm talking about Joey Tribbiani - one of the characters on the TV show "Friends." There's an episode in which Phoebe is at the hospital to deliver triplets. At one point Monica and Rachel are giving Joey a hard time about how he can make even the word "jello" sound dirty. He responds by demonstrating how easy it is to make anything sound dirty - even "Grandma's Chicken Salad." Watch. Now I can't ever say it without getting a little giggly - because I CAN'T say it in any other way than Joey's "dirty" way. There really isn't anything at all naughty about Chicken Salad. It's a perfect food, actually! Perfect for groups of two to two hundred! And this time of year we need to have ideas of things to feed groups. Why? Because in the next month or two we will be celebrating more things than any other time of the year! It's graduation! It's Father's Day! There are weddings galore! And Independence Day, too! In short, you've got company coming!
I came by this post today because I was talking to a friend yesterday and she was asking for ideas on what to feed large groups of folks. It's that time of year when there are lots of things to celebrate. Right now, it's graduations of all sorts! This particular friend's oldest child is graduating from high school. Family was starting to arrive from out of town later that day and she was wishing she had given more thought to what she would be feeding the ever-growing list of house guests! She didn't want to spend a great deal of time in the kitchen because she loved being able to visit with them all. I gave some suggestions before I had to go, but I kept thinking about it the rest of the day. What are my go-to quick meals for crowds this time of year?
It just so happened that, later that day, I found myself in a bit of the same predicament. I had over-scheduled my day - all with very fun things I wanted to do, but tightly scheduled all the same. It came time for dinner and I hadn't been able to get to the store yet this week. I don't have house guests but I do have a husband that is usually pretty interested in eating dinner after a long day of work! Suddenly I find myself, in the eleventh hour, heading to the grocery store. What was I going to fix for dinner?! I usually draw up a menu every week. I'm usually very organized. But I just haven't had time to be organized this week!!
I find it interesting that I went straight to the roasted chicken hot box at the front of the store. I stood there, staring at the gorgeous golden birds, all juicy and sweating in their sauna. I was waiting for them to tell me what would be good AND quick for dinner tonight. I swear one of them as much as whispered to me, "Psst! Chicken Salad Sandwiches!!" Honest! I nabbed the wise bird and put him in the basket. I did a mental check of my produce bins and pantry at home and knew that the only other thing I'd need to pick up was some good substantial bread.
I was in and out of that store and home again in less than 20 minutes. I pulled the meat off of that bird and gave it a chop and let it cool further while I chopped and sliced the rest of the ingredients, which are few in number. Dinner was ready in no time! Even if you don't have most of the ingredients on hand at home, it still only requires a short run through the grocery store. It's a quick assembly that will taste fresh and your guests will appreciate your extra effort, albeit a very little effort!
This is the end result of my endeavor!
I love that you can see the buttery pieces of the almonds as well as the grapes, chicken, celery, and even a speck of the black pepper and lemon zest! It all rested on some arugula leaves inside that multi-grain bread! Delicious and satisfying and ready for enjoying out on the patio!
What are your go-to quick meals? I'd love to know!
3 c. cubed cooked chicken
2 stalks celery, diced
2 green onions, sliced thin
1 c. red seedless grapes, halved
1/2 c. almonds, chopped (I used the Spanish Marcona almonds from Costco)
zest and juice from 1 lemon
5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. sour cream (I use Daisy Low-fat)
1 T. honey
salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine the chicken chunks, celery, green onions, grapes, almonds, and zest and stir to evenly distribute ingredients.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, thyme, mayonnaise, sour cream, and honey. Taste and add more honey, if needed.
Add the dressing to the larger bowl and stir to mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spread on bread or croissants, adding leafy greens such as arugula, romaine, or spinach.