Almost 3 months ago to the day, I started a new job. I absolutely love the new position and the people I work with. It’s really my dream job, although there is one drawback. I have had to start packing my lunch. It’s not that I can’t run out every once in a while, but it just seems to be easier to pack. So, after about 15 years not really ever packing, I’m back to brown bagging for lunch. And, one of my favorite things to bring is rosemary chicken salad.
I am a huge fan of chicken salad. If it’s on the menu, I’ve probably already had it before, or I’m going to order it. However, probably as a result, I’m pretty picky about it. I don’t like a ton of mayonnaise, but I like it flavorful and bold, and love chicken salad with fruit or nuts, and this recipe has both.
To start, you have to roast the chicken. I know some people will disagree and say they boil chicken, or, the trendy way of saying it, poach, but I think it leaves you with a flavorless, rubbery bird. Instead, I like to roast boneless, skinless chicken, and infuse flavor every step of the way.
I use boneless, skinless breasts for this. You really could use bone in or skin on, but I find this is easier, as you’re going to take it off. Keeping the chicken on the bone would impart a bit more flavor, but let’s face it, I don’t have all day. I rub 5 chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt, pepper, and chopped fresh rosemary. I like to roast the breasts in a cookie sheet. Also, I don’t cut out all the fat when I’m roasting the chicken. I find it’s easier to pick it off after it’s cooked. Put them in a 425 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes, until cooked through, then let them rest and cool.
Once the chicken is cool, I chop it into cubes and put it in a large bowl. Next, add 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, 1/2 cup dried cranberries or Craisins, and 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary. Add about 1/2 cup mayonnaise to chicken mixture there stir to combine. You may find you need to add a little more mayo if you have big pieces of chicken, or if you like more mayo. Feel free to adjust.
While I would love a nice, chewy roll to eat with my chicken salad, I go for simple to take to work. I pack it with some saltine crackers. It’s easy, and delicious. Happy lunch packing!