Not Your Average Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad side - rtdbrowning7

I was talking to a few friends about this problem I have when I sit down to write blog posts. I’ll have this thing that I think is really important and interesting to share, such as, “You really need to salt and drain eggplant before cooking it. That will get rid of the funky bitter taste you can find in eggplant and keep it from soaking up all the oil in the house. By the way, please make this eggplant sauce. I can’t stop eating it.”

Halfway through writing the post, or maybe just before I hit “Publish,” I get these other needling thoughts. “Some people can’t afford eggplant. Some people can’t afford fresh vegetables. What right have I to blather on about how bitter eggplant can be without using this technique? Shouldn’t I be doing something to make sure people have food instead of making three batches of shakshuka just so I get the flavor right? Shouldn’t I just be trying to make sure everyone can access eggplant instead of telling people how bitter it can be? Look at your life; look at your choices. Do eggplant cooking methods really matter? I mean, are these the big issues of our day?”

Fennel  - rtdbrowning2

Chicken - rtdbrowning1

Then I do hit “Publish,” and part of me is actually afraid someone will call me out in the comments. “Yoohoo, bozo! No one cares about how to cook eggplant. Maybe you should give your eggplant to other people if you find it so bitter!” No one does.

Sometimes I feel like my posts are just screaming “PRIVILEGE!” Not the level of privilege that involves bone China and and white gloves and a butler–the type of privilege that sneaks in unnoticed and makes me forget that owning a cast iron skillet and a gas range and having access to the farmers’ market are all things I shouldn’t take for granted.

My friends told me the other day that being aware of it is half the battle–but what’s the other half? No one wants to read a blog that’s all about a guilt trip. And since I love food because of the bodily and soulful pleasure I find in making and eating good food with good people, I wouldn’t want to try to stifle that.

Ingredients 1 - rtdbrowning4

Ingredients 2 - rtdbrowning5

I think part of the reason I think so much about the culture of plenty is that I haven’t always been here. My mom and I were talking recently about the “dark years” we spent not knowing where we would get food, looking for gas money under the couch cushions, showering at a friend’s house. Ten years ago if you had told me I would have opinions on roast chicken and spend hours in the kitchen cooking for…the Internet…I wouldn’t have believed you.

Chicken Salad mixed - rtdbrowning6

I probably would have ended up being a food lover no matter how my life turned out, but I bet that I’m a little more passionate about, say, chicken salad because I really, really know how much sharing a simple meal like this can change someone’s day.

During that conversation about the ethics of food blogging, one of my friends ended up saying this, “I think you should keep cooking and writing about food because you love it.” So, here I am.

Chicken Salad above - rtdbrowning8

I got the idea for this chicken salad while I was testing the recipe for this delicious roast chicken. Let’s just say that I had A LOT of chicken in a small amount of time and I needed to find something to do with it. After tasting chicken salad from a perfectly roasted chicken, the canned kind just isn’t that appealing. If you’re not on a chicken roasting spree, just pick up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. I won’t tell.

Not Your Average Chicken Salad
Serves 2-4

2 ½ cups roasted chicken
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill (about 1 frond)
3 Tablespoons finely diced white onion or shallot
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
¼ cup mayonnaise
⅛ – ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt & fresh-cracked pepper

1. Chop chicken into ½-inch cubes. Use the skin for another purpose.

2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, seasoning with cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper to taste.

3. Serve immediately over lettuce and tomatoes, in a sandwich, or on crackers. Store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

10 comments

  1. Richard Lebrun · · Reply

    I really like your comments about the tension between appreciating good food, and worrying about the folks that can’t for healthy food or even enough food to survive.
    Grandpa

    1. Thanks, Grandpa. I’m glad to hear that others think about the same things.

  2. Lovely, moving post, Randle. Thank you so much for these words. I agree with everything you wrote here. There is so much I would like to say, but I don’t know where to start. Just keep being you, I wish I could know you better.

    1. Darya! It makes me so happy to hear that. I’m glad other people know what I’m talking about, even if we don’t exactly know what to do about it. It encourages me to keep talking about things like this. And what kind words. I AM going to France with my husband and some family friends this summer. Paris and Normandy. Who knows!

      1. I worked in Syria on an archaeological excavation between 2008 and 2011, so whenever I feel like complaining about my life, I try to remember what my friends who still live there are going through. It doesn’t mean my “problems” aren’t real, just that they are not the most important thing…
        If you come to Paris and need recommendations for restaurants, cafés, markets, cheese or wine shops, please let me know; I’d be glad to help. And I am often there, so if you want to meet up for coffee or drinks, let me know.

  3. This is definitely one of my favorite Crandle Cakes posts. I love that your blog seems unpredictable, and curiosity draws me to read your posts time and time again. I have come to find that a post about chicken salad is probably not going to be much about chicken salad at all, but something much deeper than that. This blog is unique in that you feel you shouldn’t skip over a post just because you don’t like a certain food. You might miss out on reading about life, love, family, and friends. Keep doing exactly what you’re doing because people are relating to you more than you know. Not to mention your photographs are beautiful :)

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words!! I’m so glad to hear that people relate to what I’m talking about. And thanks for complimenting my pics — always a a work in progress. <3

  4. Rhonda Dube · · Reply

    Made me cry….again!

  5. I really like how you talk about your inner conflict, it’s the same with me but with beauty, even though I just started. love your blog, i am definitely get inspired by your recipes! have a nice day :)

    1. Thanks for stopping by Miriam! I’ll go check out your new blog. :)

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