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Chicken Tarragon Salad with Homemade Mayonnaise

Guess what? Chicken salad is not my favorite. Stinky old mayonnaise, dry chicken and soggy lettuce, right?  But let me tell you, THIS Chicken Tarragon Salad recipe is something I can eat meal after meal.

Chicken Tarragon Salad Recipe with Homemade Mayonnaise - TodaysMama.com

What’s the difference?  Homemade Mayonnaise with Tarragon

Once you try  making your own homemade mayonnaise, you’ll never open a jar again. Give yourself enough time to let the mayonnaise chill and to allow the flavors to blend.

I serve this on a bed of lettuce. You can also use it for sandwiches or just as a stand-alone salad.  Tarragon is a lovely part of an herb garden.  You’ll want some on hand for your next bernaise sauce and to season fish.

Chicken Tarragon Salad Recipe
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, approximately 2 pounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 cup celery, diced, approximately 4-5 stalks
2 red delicious apples, cored and sliced thinly
1 cup red grapes, rinsed and halved
1/4 cup green onions, diced up to, but not including, the green tops
1 cup tarragon mayonnaise
1 head bibb lettuce, rinsed and torn into bite-sized pieces

Prepare chicken by spraying with olive oil, lightly salt and pepper and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  Allow chicken to cool and shred or cut into bite-sized pieces.   Store chicken in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the salad ingredients.  In a medium bowl, toss together celery, apples and grapes.  Add prepared chicken and mayonnaise and toss until coated.  Line serving bowl with prepared lettuce and scoop chicken mixture onto the bed of lettuce. Makes 8-10 servings.

Homemade Tarragon Mayonnaise

2 pasteurized egg yolks or equivalent egg yolk substitute, approx. 1/4 to 1/3 cup
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
1/4 cup + 3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/4 cup fresh tarragon rinsed and chopped (or entire 1 oz package)
1 tablespoon minced garlic

In a large bowl and using a large whisk, blend together egg yolk, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard and salt for 1 minute.

Slowly add 1/4 cup oil to bowl, using a tablespoon (1/4 cup = 4 tablespoons), whisking constantly.  This process of emulsification combines the egg and oil and air until mixture appears silky smooth.  The color will change from a bright yellow (yolk  mixture) to a light, off whiteish color by the end.  Measure remaining 3/4 cup oil into a spouted measuring cup and gradually pour into bowl in a thin stream while whisking constantly.

This is when your arm might get tired of whisking. Don’t stop!  Whisk for up to 10 minutes until mayonnaise thickens and plops easily off a spoon.  If mixture is still runny or oil appears to have separated, contine to whip until a smooth consistency.  Stir in tarragon and garlic. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before combining into salad.  Keep chilled until use.  Makes approximately 2 cups.

Substitute: If you’re not up for making your own mayonnaise, you can substitute 1/3 cup mayonnaise + 1/2 cup plain, low-fat yogurt. Add the lemon, vinegar, mustard, salt, tarragon and garlic and blend well. Chill at least 1 hour before using.

*If you don’t find a pasteurized egg yolk, remember to use a high quality egg with an intact shell as eating raw egg yolks can introduce the risk of salmonella poisoning.  Like the Food Safety peeps suggest, take care of the special people who are at higher risk for salmonella poisoning (infants, pregnant mamas, or the elderly with compromised immune systems, etc.)

Recipe is my adapted version from a sample of the original Chicken Tarragon Salad from Pinon Cafe, Salt Lake City, Utah.

What’s your stance on chicken salad? Take it or leave it?

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