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Family Central: Stepping outside the box – Curried Chicken Salad

No two chicken salads are the same, and from what I can tell from polling my friends, each of us is quite specific on what ingredients are allowed in authentic chicken salad.

For example, in the South, only white meat is used; stirring up a batch of chicken salad with dark meat probably would get you kicked out of the local ladies’ groups, or at least everyone would wonder where you were born.

There’s also the great debate of “to fruit or not to fruit.” Classic chicken salad followers (usually friends of my grandmother) adhere to a strict rule of no grapes, raisins, apples and definitely not pineapple or apricots. I have found that my age group, and especially younger, has stepped outside the box a little and secretly add bits of fruit when the desire hits or we have an apple that needs using before it goes bad.

One of my favorite riffs on chicken salad is my mom’s recipe for Curried Chicken Salad. It is about as far away from the Southern chicken breast, mayo and celery combo that the local Episcopal Church makes each summer for the ladies’ church wide luncheon, but I have always enjoyed the flavor profile of the curry with just a hint of sweet pineapple and raisins and the crunch of toasted almonds.

Sometimes I toast fresh coconut to sprinkle over, but it’s totally not necessary. This recipe is easy to double and stays in your fridge up to about three days. Enjoy!

Curried Chicken Salad
2 Tbs pineapple juice
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp curry powder
Salt, to taste

4 large chicken breasts, cooked and slivered
1/4 cup thinly sliced celery
2 Tbs thinly sliced green onions
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 cup raisins
Lettuce leaves
4-6 pineapple slices
Seedless green or red grapes, halved

For the dressing, combine pineapple juice, mayonnaise, mustard curry powder and salt in a bowl and mix until smooth. For the salad, combine chicken, celery, green onions, almonds and raisins in a bowl and mix well. Add the dressing and toss well. Chill, covered, for at least 1 hour. Arrange the lettuce leaves on serving plates and top with pineapple slices. Spoon chicken mixture onto prepared plates and top with grapes.

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