Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chicken Salad Puffs

Creamy, bacony chicken salad in a flaky puff pastry shell.  Perhaps the perfect summer dinner.
This recipe is adapted from one I found, credited to Ann Hodgman, on Ezra Pound Cake.  I love the description she wrote about standard chicken salad.  Like her, I've never been a fan.  This chicken salad recipe, though, is different.  It is flavorful, fresh, with no odd ingredients, and most importantly, it tastes great (not like a mouthful of mayonnaise and aluminum can like others I've had the misfortune of trying).
So, even if you haven't had an exceptional chicken salad before, it might be time to give it another try with this recipe.  And, if you already like chicken salad, this is just going to take your opinion of it to the next level! 

Chicken Salad Puffs
Adapted from Ezra Pound Cake

4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken half-breasts

1 head broccoli, cut into small pieces, stems peeled & chopped
1/2 - 1 lb bacon (I used the whole pound)

3/4 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream (or thick plain yogurt)
2 tbsp chives, sliced thin (green onions or sweet onion work well, too)
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp dried dill (or 1/2-1 tsp fresh chopped dill)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped celery (aprx 1 stalk)
Salt to taste (I used 1/4 tsp)

2 packages Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Shells

1.  Place the chicken broth and chicken pieces into a medium/large saucepan (the liquid should cover the chicken).  Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat.  Reduce to a simmer and cover.  Poach until the chicken is cooked through (using a leave-in digital thermometer is helpful).

2.  Transfer the chicken to plate to cool completely.  Once cool, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces (about 1" cubes).  Cover and chill until ready to use.

3.  The broccoli can be added to the salad raw (which is how I make it).  If you prefer it cooked, though, proceed with this step.  Place the broccoli on a steamer set over simmering water.  Steam the broccoli for 2-3 minutes or until it is just barely tender.  Transfer the broccoli to a plate to cool completely.  Cover and chill until ready to use.

4.  The bacon needs to be crisped and crumbled.  You can cook the bacon on the stove or in the oven until crisp, then drain on paper towels, and crumble it.  Or, you can slice/chop the bacon while it's raw, cook it until crisp, and drain on paper towels.

5.  Stir the mayo, sour cream, chives, parsley, lemon juice, mustard, dill, pepper, and celery together in a medium bowl.

6.  Gently stir the cooled chicken, broccoli, and bacon into the mayo mixture.  Add salt to taste.  Cover and chill until ready to use.

7. Cook the pastry shells according to the instructions on the box.  Cool completely (pop the cooked shells in the freezer to speed things up if you'd like).

8.  Spoon the chicken salad into the shells and serve!

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