How To Make Jenn’s Chicken Salad

This is “Jenn’s Chicken Salad”, because it’s not at all what I would normally put in chicken salad if I were making it for myself. But I wasn’t, this was for Mother’s Day, so it had what my wife wanted. And you know what? It’s pretty doggone good. And I’m not just saying that because she’s going to read this. (Hi honey!)


2 boneless chicken breasts
4 boneless chicken thighs
2-4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup toasted pecans
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
2-3 teaspoons dried dill
1 dozen red grapes


Some chicken salad recipes call for boiling the chicken so that it’s thoroughly cooked without drying out. I happen to believe you can dry food out even cooking it completely submerged in water. (Please don’t make me look up links to prove it, just trust me on this one, okay?) So I dice and grill it.

It works best to do it in that order. If you cook it first, while it’s still in big, irregular hunks, you’ll dry out the edges before the center is done. Maybe that’s why people went to boiling. If you dice it first into uniform, bite-sized pieces, it’s much easier to control. Salt generously after cutting.

You can see in that last picture that I did the thighs last. Dark meat needs a little more cooking time, so you want them in the pan first. Also, this batch had more fat on the thighs than on the breasts, though this can change depending on how it’s butchered. I could put the thighs in a dry pan and the fat on them was plenty to keep the lean meat from sticking.

Salt again once it’s in the pan, so you get what was on the bottom while it was on the cutting board.

Fry over medium heat until the fat starts to render out and the meat starts to brown on the edges, then add the breast meat.

Cook until the breast meat is completely white, and the thigh meat is a darker brown. Cut some of the larger pieces with the spoon or spatula you’re using. When it’s completely cooked, the chicken will be easy to cut even without a knife.

If you have a lot of liquid in the bottom of the pan, pour it off and give it to the dog. He’ll love you forever.

Transfer the chicken to a large bowl to cool. If you use a metal bowl instead of stoneware, the metal will draw the heat of the of the meat, cooling it down much faster. Spread the chicken around so it’s in a single layer, with as much of it touching the metal bowl as possible.

While the meat is cooling, mince the chives.

Umm, by the way, you did thoroughly scrub the knife and cutting board you used for the raw chicken before reusing them, right? Most people don’t like their chicken with a side of salmonella.

Cut the grapes into quarters.

Add the mayo. (I won’t insist on making your own mayonnaise from scratch, but it is better. And better for you. Okay, enough preaching.) How much to use is very much up to personal preference. Some people like it very dry, some like it almost soupy. Fortunately my wife and I both like it with the chicken just barely coated.

Add the chives, grapes and nuts and stir.

Oops, forgot to add the dill. This should have gone in back with the mayo before the first mix to give it more time to rehydrate.

Let the finished salad rest for a few minutes in the fridge both to cool down and to give the flavors time to mingle. For a simple serving suggestion, if you don’t want to do the typical croissant sandwich, cut the bottom off a head of romaine lettuce.

Arrange a couple of leaves one inside the other, and put a scoop of chicken salad down the center.

And that’s it.

What did you have for mother’s day?