Chicken Salad is one of the things I do really well. I have a few “solid” recipes up my sleeve that I can cook anywhere, anytime, no recipe required. Lasagna is one, chicken salad is another. Chicken salad sandwiches… they’re light and refreshing in summer and comforting in winter.
When I was 16, it was time to get a summer job that didn’t involve babysitting small children. So I put out a bunch of resumes at the end of the school year at the little strip mall up the road from where we lived. It wasn’t exactly the best pickings. There was a K-Mart and a grocery store, a drug store, a bunch of low end clothing stores, and a small sandwich shop/cafe.
It was a pretty half-hearted effort on my part but.. frankly I would’ve been fine doing nothing all summer. The only thing motivating me was, if I got a summer job, I didn’t have to go on the family camping trip. Intstead I’d get to stay home BY MYSELF with the dog. Ahhh… a little taste of freedom!
Turns out the places I dropped resumes were about as enthusiastic about me as I was about them. The only one to call me back was the Sandwich Tree and so… I became a sandwich “expert” before Subway coined the term.
I hated it. Like, really hated it. Like the couple who came in every morning and told me every single time to only butter their toast “with just a light spread of butter… not too heavy, you know, but not too, too light. Just… a light spread“. I have no idea what they meant so every morning I buttered it exactly the same as I would butter mine at home. After a while I messed around and would put lots on one day and then nearly nothing the next day just to see if they ever said anything. But they didn’t. Ever. So I don’t even really know if they knew what “just a light spread of butter… not too heavy, but not too too light” meant.
I loved how the older ladies working there seemed to think that me making sandwiches was an excellent career opportunity and how one day, if I showed some skills, I might be allowed to work the cash register. And then, the sky would be the limit.
I also loved how I worked there for three months and the owners still had no idea what my name was (with their huge staff of eight).
But, I got paid a whopping $4/hour cash and my goal was to make $1000 by the end of the summer. (That’s 250 hours folks…).
Everyone should have to bus tables at some point in their life just to:
- realize what slobs the general public are
- appreciate their wait staff when they eat out
- seriously consider how perhaps going to university or college or trade school might be beneficial to their future
I learned all three.
I also learned how to make the best damn chicken salad I’d ever had. When virtually everything in the place was made from a commercial mix and the bread was bought from the grocery store (and not the fresh bakery), that’s saying something. But we made that chicken salad from scratch and it was goooooood.
The secret is the pickles and the curry powder. (that was my add on). You need the nice crunch from the pickles and celery and the curry gives it something unexpected.
About a month in to working there I got called by the drug store who offered me FIVE dollars an hour and they wanted me to be a cashier. Woah. My career was already skyrocketing! Watch out old ladies at the sandwich shop… I’m climbing up! I worked both jobs for a little while but when the sandwich place wouldn’t let me take my birthday off… I walked.
Here is the irony of this… I wound up working for that drug store chain for 21 years… in their stores and then in their head office. And it was when I was working in their IT department that we had an “efficiency” expert come in to analyze our processes. She was half of the couple that owned the sandwich shop. Hehe… she didn’t remember me and I had pretty much zero respect for her given how I was treated as a 16 year old peon. I did refresh her memory though – but she still didn’t remember. Lesson… treat everyone nicely. You never know when they will pop up again in your career. That 16 year old kid has to grow up sometime.
Onwards to the chicken salad. This is one of those recipes that is difficult to write down because I just know it by feel and taste. We did measure out the chicken but not the other ingredients so it did vary from day to day depending on who made it but it was always excellent. I like it on toasted with lettuce and tomato (avocado is good too!) and a little extra mayo spread on the bread.
I had mine with the super cute Lemmy soda I found in a little grocery store in a small town en route to Kelowna (I’m tempted to go back and buy their other flavours!)
- 2 cooked chicken breasts, diced into small cubes
- 1 large dill pickle finely diced
- 1 stalk of celery finely diced
- 2 tbsp of mayonnaise (feel free to add more if you like your salad even creamier - you can sub light mayo for less calories and not sacrifice taste)
- ¼ tsp curry powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- add all the ingredients into a single bowl and mix well.
- add more mayo if you need to for your taste
- you can serve immediately in a sandwich or on it's own but if you can let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so first the curry flavour will blend and give you a better depth of flavour