Monday, February 4, 2013
Chicken Salad the Improvisational Way
This morning, after writing "Dining with Miss B.", I defrosted a few cups of chopped cooked chicken I had in the freezer.
I was determined to reproduce Miss B.'s chicken salad ,even though I had no pecans and no celery.
I did have pine nuts, courtesy of Trader Joe's, where they sell big packages cheap. I had 5 baby marinated canned artichoke hearts, left over. I had celery salt, which is becoming one of my favorite flavor rescuers.
I took the two cups of diced chicken, and added 3 heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise and a scant teaspoon of grainy style Dijon mustard. Then I shook a generous amount of celery salt in, and taste tested the mixture.
Excellent so far. I added a cup of green grapes, sliced in half, then added a 1/4 cup of pine nuts. I shredded the artichoke hearts with my fingers, tossed them in and mixed everything well to coat with the mayonnaise and the celery salt.
Was it good?
Absolutely it was. And as good as Miss B.'s, despite the substitution.
There is a lesson here. Substitution is not settling for the lesser. It is not failure. It is creative, and it is using your wits. Every decent cook, I think, eventually becomes an improviser, and this is what keeps our cooking fresh, and alive.