Sausage Dressing without the Turkey

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I am not much of a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving – I really don’t care for turkey (have had too many bad ones over the years and that is inexcusable – turkey is easy to cook, of course, I am there if you are going to serve wild turkey, either the bird or the booze), stuffing (especially the store bought stuff) or cranberry jelly. I would much rather have a traditional Thanksgiving of deer, game bird and small furry woodland creatures; pretty much what would have been served at the actual first Thanksgiving. I still get roped into making the traditional meal and my sister-in-law usually requests my stuffing, and lots of it for leftovers. The beauty of this stuffing recipe is that it doesn’t require it to be stuffed into a turkey cavity (the idea is that you butterfly the bird and put it on top of the tray of stuffing so the juices drip down), so you actually don’t need to make a turkey at all to enjoy stuffing (the directions are for if you aren’t cooking a bird with the stuffing). The plus side is that it is easy to make, produces a sufficient quantity (the recipe feeds 12 in theory) and reheats well. I adapted this from the original Cook’s Illustrated recipe.

The Software

  •  18 cups 1-inch challah or Italian bread cubes (from about 1 1/2 loaves)
  • 2 cups turkey stock or chicken stock
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 2 large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 1 ½ lbs mild Italian sausage
  • 3 cups onions, chopped fine – I prefer sweet onions here
  • 1 ½ cups celery, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage leaves
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press
  • 1 ½ teaspoons table salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper

 

The Recipe

  1. Adjust one oven rack to upper-middle position and second rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Spread bread in even layers on 2 rimmed baking sheets and dry in oven 40 to 50 minutes.
  2. Place bread in large bowl. Whisk together stock, half-and-half, and eggs in medium bowl; pour over bread and toss gently to coat so bread does not break into smaller pieces. Set aside.
  3. Heat heavy-bottomed, 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until hot, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until sausage loses its raw color, 5 to 7 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer sausage to medium bowl. Don’t drain the fat. If there isn’t much in there, add a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add about half of onions and celery to fat in skillet; sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer onion mixture to bowl with sausage. Return skillet to heat and add 2 tablespoons butter; when foam subsides, add remaining celery and onions and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in thyme, sage, and garlic; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds; add salt and pepper. Add this mixture along with sausage and onion mixture to bread and stir gently to combine, trying not to break bread into smaller pieces.
  4. Spray disposable aluminum 12 by 16-inch roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dressing to roasting pan and spread in even layer. Cover pan with foil and refrigerate until needed. It should be good in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Remove from the fridge about 45 minutes before cooking.
  5. In a 400 degree oven, cook the dressing covered for 80 minutes covered, rotating the pan after 40 minutes. The internal temperature should be about 150-155 degrees. Uncover, increase heat to 450 degrees and cook until the surface starts to become golden (keep an eye on it, it can burn), about 10-15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, plate and serve.

Notes

The original recipe called for just 12 oz. of sausage, which really didn’t seem like that much. I like the flavors Italian sausage brings to the party, but you could certainly use any sausage that you like. I would highly recommend using turkey stock if you are making this, even if you roast a bird on top of it, I think it has better flavor than chicken stock, plus then you can make turkey gravy to put over it. If you want to make it vegetarian or vegan, it is easy – I have made this using vegan sausage and it works. You just need to use oil in the pan for sautéing the sausage and veggies and replace the meat stock with veggie stock; everything else would be the same. I prefer Italian bread to challah just because it is easier to work with. Oh yeah, the recipe actually scales down pretty easily if you don’t want too much leftover stuffing.

Chicken Burgers with Apple, Sage, Rosemary and Oregano

By Iron Chef Leftovers

If you are making burgers, meatloaf, sloppy joes, etc., there is something to be said for grinding your own meat. When you buy pre-ground meat, you never know exactly what it is composed of. Grinding it yourself eliminates the guesswork and makes for a better product. It is also much easier than you think it is – if you own a kitchen aid stand mixer, the grinder attachment runs about $50 and works really well. If you don’t, go to your local butcher (or even your local megamart if they have a butcher counter), buy the cut of meat that you want to grind and then ask them to do it for you. Trust me, it makes a difference.

Recently PW and her husband came over to the Iron Chef abode for dinner. I asked what protein they would like and I was told chicken burgers. I thought back to some chicken burgers I have had in the past – they were bland and dry and I wasn’t going to serve that. I then remembered back to a really good house-made chicken sausage that I had at a restaurant years’ ago and decided that would be the base for my recipe. I wanted something that was moist and flavorful but easy to make. This is what I came up with.

The key to this recipe is using freshly ground chicken thighs. You can probably use pre-ground chicken but you run the risk of the burgers drying out and will probably pay more per pound for the pre-ground meat than you will for the thighs. This recipe will make 4 good sized burgers, but can easily be scaled.

The Software
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs; ground
1 teaspoon minced sage
1 teaspoon minced rosemary
1 teaspoon minced oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup apple, peel removed and diced into 1/8 inch pieces
½ large egg, lightly beaten

The Recipe
If grinding your own chicken, cut into 1 inch cubes and freeze for 10 minutes to firm up the meat before putting it into the grinder. Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and gently toss to combine. Divide the mixture into 4 equal parts and gently form into patties (you could make sliders and probably get 8 out of this recipe). Set on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour (the burgers can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for 24 hour until ready to use). Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the burgers. Cook on the first side until a crust forms (about 4 minutes) and carefully flip. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the internal temperature reaches about 175 degrees (7-10 minutes, depending on your stove). Remove and serve to a hungry public.

Notes
The recipe can also be made on the grill. I would highly recommend starting these out on a cast iron skillet to form a bit of a crust before putting them on the grill surface – the burgers will seem loose and gravity will pull them through the grates of the grill initially. To check your seasonings, cook a very small amount of the mixture and cook it in a pre-heated skillet – it should cook in about a minute and this will tell you if you need to add anything seasoning wise. I used a Fuji apple for this, but you can use just about any apple you would like. It is important to use the apple – it helps to keep the chicken very moist. I suppose that you could use chicken breast for this, but you would run the risk of the meat drying out before it is done. I used fresh herbs when I made this dish, if you use dried, cut the amounts in half and test the seasonings – you can always add more but you can never take any away. This is a pretty mild tasting dish – if you want to ramp it up, some jalapeños or crushed red pepper would be really nice. Letting the formed patties sit in the fridge is important. If you don’t do it, they will fall apart when you cook them. You could freeze them and cook them later if you aren’t going to use the entire batch.

Quick Chicken Parm

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Chicken Parm is one of my favorite things – how could it not be, breaded chicken, sauce and cheese. Recently, I had a family member have a health scare and it got me thinking, is there a healthier way to make chicken parm and still have it taste great. This is particularly useful if you don’t have any sauce on hand (and you would never buy sauce from a jar, right?) This is what I came up with.

The Software
3 chicken cutlets, 3 oz. each, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, patted dry
2 tablespoons, herb infused olive oil (see note below)
2 oz. mozzarella cheese, either sliced very thin or shredded
1 oz Parmigiano reggiano grated
1 tomato, sliced into 1/8 inch rounds (enough to cover the surface of your chicken)

The Recipe
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat until just starting to smoke. Add chicken and cook on the first side for 2 minutes and the second for 1-2 minutes until done. Remove excess oil with a paper towel. Heat your broiler. On a baking sheet covered with a sheet of foil, place the chicken, top with tomatoes and then top with cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 2 minutes. Serve to happy guests.

Notes
Start to finish, you can have this on the table in 10 minutes. Notice I did not use salt – there is plenty in the cheese that you won’t need it. Check on your chicken constantly when under the broiler – it can go from bubbly to burn in a hurry. There is no need to preheat the broiler – you are just melting the cheese, not cooking the chicken. If using an electric oven, keep the door slightly ajar, the broiler will cycle off and on if you don’t and it will take a lot longer to melt the cheese. The recipe can be easily scaled and obviously you can add more tomato or cheese if you want. The key to this being a quick recipe is pounding the cutlets thin. If you don’t want to do it, buy your chicken at a butcher shop or megamart with a butcher counter and ask them to do it for you. They should have no problem with doing that.

Notes on Infused oil
To make the herb oil, you can either buy it or make it yourself. I like to throw a sprig of sage, rosemary, tarragon and thyme into about 1 cup of oil with 2 garlic cloves. Heat over medium heat for 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month. If you are feeling really lazy, just toss the herbs and garlic in the oil you are cooking the chicken in and leave them in the pot, following the directions for cooking the chicken in the recipe.

Mexican Chicken Cacciatore

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Ok, I promise this is the last of the tomato recipes I will post for a while. I just have about 25 lbs. or so of tomatoes that I have been trying to make my way through, so I have been coming up with new and creative ways to use them. The other night, I thought chicken cacciatore, but I had a bunch of other ingredients I wanted to use and I had a hankering for some black beans, so I decided to do a Mexican version of the classic Italian dish.

The Software
8 oz. chicken breast, cut into ½ inch pieces
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground adobe or paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ cup onions, sliced thin
1 large bell pepper, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 tablespoon chile pepper
¾ lb. tomatoes, cut into ½ inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup minced cilantro

 

Mecican Chicken Caccitore – All part of a well balanced meal

The Recipe
Heat a 12 inch skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil when hot. Pat dry the chicken and combine in a bowl with the cumin, garlic, salt and paprika. Toss to coat. When the oil is just beginning to smoke, add the chicken to the pan. Sear for 2 minutes until just beginning to brown (you are not trying to cook it, just brown it). Transfer to a bowl. Add one table spoon of oil. Reduce heat to medium and heat the oil for one minute. Add the onions and sauté until they become translucent – about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and oregano and cook until the tomatoes have just begun to fall apart. Add the peppers and cook for about 8-10 minutes until the tomatoes have completed broken down into a smooth sauce. Add the chicken and cilantro and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer until the chicken is cooked but still tender – 5-7 minutes. Check seasonings, adjust as necessary and serve.

Notes
I served this over yellow rice and black beans, but you could serve this over whatever you would like. I used a pablano pepper, but if you like hotter, use any you would like. If the sauce is too thick, add a little water, white wine or stock. You want it to be moderately thick before you add the chicken. If it is too thin, keep cooking it before you add the chicken until it reaches the thickness you want. I didn’t bother seeding or peeling the tomatoes, but you could do that if you desire. The recipe serves 2 easily – we actually had leftovers.

Chicken Salad Redux

By Iron Chef Leftovers

One of the very first posts to this blog was a recipe for chicken salad. It is a good recipe, but I am always looking to make things better. Recently I was at a friend’s place and we were hungry and there was leftover chicken, so I decided to whip something up with the ingredients on hand. It was good; possibly better than the original, but I will let you decide.

The Software
1 chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces
1 large carrot finely minced
1 large stalk celery, finely minced
2 tablespoon finely minced yellow onion
2 scallions minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon minced fresh dill
2 teaspoons minced fresh basil
Salt
Pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons mayo (see note)
1 1/2 tablespoons tzatziki (see note)
2 teaspoon whole grain mustard (see note)

• Note – when I say tablespoon for the mayo and teaspoon for the mustard, I am not talking about the measurements, I am talking about the spoons you would find in your silverware drawer. I just take 1 1/2 big scoops each of mayo/taztziki and 2 big teaspoon of mustard. If I had to guess measurements, 1/4 cup each of mayo abd tzatzki, 1 1/2 tablespoons (the measurement) of mustard.

The Salad
In a large bowl, combine the chicken, carrot, celery, scallions and onion.

The Dressing
This is a salad, so you are making a salad dressing essentially. In a bowl, combine the mayo, tzatziki, mustard, herbs, garlic powder and balsamic vinegar. Mix until well incorporated. Taste it. Add any additional seasoning as needed.

The Final Product
Add the dressing and fold using a spatula. Taste it. There should be a subtle hint of heat from the onions and mustard. I usually will add a few grinds of black pepper and, if needed, some salt and fold that in. That is it, you are done. If for some reason you like more dressing, just make some more and add it in. This is pretty potent stuff and you are really looking more to coat everything rather than drown it.

To Serve
Serve it however you want – on a sandwich, salad, or my favorite, just out of the bowl with a spoon.

The Spicy Variation
Add 1 minced jalepeno and 2 tablespoons (or more) of siriacha to the dressing and combine.

A Simple Spice Rub

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I like spice rubs, but I tend not to buy ones in the store since they are mostly salt and very expensive and you can actually make the same thing at home for a fraction of the price. I have a default spice rub that I use for chicken, fish or pork when I am not really sure what I am in the mood for. It is quick and easy to make a spice rub with the spices you have on hand and they will keep in an airtight container for 6 months (which is as long as you should be keeping spices around anyway), but I usually just make them on the fly since they take less than a minute to put together. For this recipe, I will give the ratios in parts and you can use whatever measuring device you want.

The Software
2 parts smoked paprika
2 parts powdered garlic
2 parts cumin
2 parts dried oregano
1 part ground adobe
1 part ground black pepper
1 part salt

The Recipe
Take all of the ingredients and add them to a container with a lid. Close the lid tight and shake until well combined. Spread on your protein or veggies of choice. Cook and you are done.

Notes
If the rub is not salty enough for you, add more salt. It is easier to add more than it is to remove it after you have put everything together. The ratios are really just suggestions, add and subtract whatever you would like and feel free to substitute sweet paprika for smoked and to take anything out. This recipe was developed with what I had on hand, you can pretty much make your own by combining spices and herbs and trying them out.

Gumbo File

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I love gumbo but it can be really hard to find one with a good balance of flavor and heat in a restaurant. Most of the ones that I have had around Seattle have been too soupy or bland, so I decided to make one recently that was basically a modification of Alton Brown’s recipe from Good Eats.

The biggest problem with making gumbo is getting the roux dark enough – the roux is the foundation for the flavor of the dish and traditionally it requires at least an hour of cooking on the stovetop with constant stirring. Alton Brown devised a short cut method, which does not reduce the cooking time, but it does reduce the need to stir it constantly by cooking the roux in the oven instead of on the stove top. The other thing I like about this recipe is that it uses file powder instead of okra. I am not a fan of okra, but you need it to thicken the dish. File powder does this.

The Software
* 4 ounces vegetable oil
* 4 ounces all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 pounds raw, unpeeled medium-sized (31-50 count) shrimp
* 2 quarts water
* 3 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in (Optional)
* 3/4 cup chicken stock (if not using the chicken in the dish)
* 1 cup diced onion
* 1/2 cup diced celery
* 1/2 cup diced green peppers
* 2 tablespoons minced garlic
* 1/2 cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomato
* 1 tablespoon kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 2 bay leaves
* 1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and browned
* 1 tablespoon file powder

The Recipe

The Roux
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the vegetable oil and flour into a 5 to 6-quart Dutch oven and whisk together to combine. Place on the middle shelf of the oven, uncovered, and bake for 1 1/2 hours, whisking 2 to 3 times throughout the cooking process. The roux will come out dark brown, almost brick red when it is done.

The Stock
While the roux is baking, de-head, peel and devein the shrimp. Place the shrimp in a bowl and set in the refrigerator. Place the heads and shells in a 4-quart saucepan along with the 2 quarts of water, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or until the liquid has reduced to 1-quart. Remove from the heat and strain the liquid into a container, discarding the solids.

If including the chicken – In a separate pot add 2 cups of cold water, a pinch of salt and the chicken. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium-low and cover. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, until very tender. Remove the chicken to a plate to let cool and de-fat the cooking liquid in a fat separator, reserving 3/4 cup. Removed the chicken and shred when it is cool enough to handle.

The Gumbo
Brown the sausage on both sides over medium-high heat and remove to a bowl. Add the shrimp and cook for about 1 on each side (don’t worry about cooking them completely, they will finish cooking in the gumbo). Deglaze the pan with the reserved cooking liquid from the chicken or the chicken stock, scraping up the brown bits. Once the brown bits are scrape up, add the liquid to the shrimp stock.

Once the roux is done, carefully remove it from the oven and set over medium-high heat. Gently add the onions, celery, green peppers and garlic and cook, moving constantly for 7 to 8 minutes or until the onions begin to turn translucent. Add the tomatoes, salt, black pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves and stir to combine. Gradually add the shrimp broth and chicken stock while whisking continually. Decrease the heat to low, cover and cook for 35 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the shrimp, chicken and sausage and stir to combine. Add the file powder while stirring constantly. Cover and allow to sit for 10 minutes prior to serving. Serve over rice to a happy public.

If the gumbo is not thick enough for your liking, you can add additional file powder after serving.

Notes
The recipe is really hands off compared to most other ones I have seen. You can eliminate the chicken and chicken stock and replace it with vegetable stock if you are so inclined, but I am not sure if there is a way to make this vegetarian. The heat is pretty tame in this recipe, if you like more heat, increase the cayanne, or just add some hot sauce when serving. Traditionally this is served with rice, but would also work with pasta. You can also add more or less of the meats in it, depending on what your preferences are.

File powder can be found at any good spice shop and most mega marts.

Unorthodox Egg Rolls

by A.J. Coltrane

These were inspired by this Simply Ming recipe:  Spring rolls filled with turkey, carrots, and carmelized onions. The carmelized onions in an egg roll sounded really good to me.

I began by shredding one red pepper, 1/2 a red onion, and three large button mushrooms. These went into a skillet with two cloves of minced garlic, two tablespoons of hoisin sauce, and a splash of soy. Everything was sauteed over medium heat until it was all a big, sticky, red mess. When cool it was combined a bowl with minced cooked chicken (about one large breast), and the green parts of a bunch of scallions.

The egg rolls were sealed with an egg wash.

And deep fried in canola oil until golden brown.

I used this recipe for sweet and sour sauce, minus the cornstarch and the boiling. (1/3 cup rice vinegar, 4 TBP brown sugar, 1 TBP ketchup, 1 tsp soy.) It came out vaguely too sour, though that could have been because I ran out of ketchup. A little fiddling and it was fine… if anyone has an easy sweet and sour recipe they like I’d be happy to try it.

*Somebody* has a drinking problem.

Don’t worry, no beer was wasted on the cat.

I’m Coo Coo for Coq au Vin

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Coq au vin is the perfect example of how French peasant food has become haute cuisine – a dish that is traditionally made with an old rooster so that it does not go to waste has become a $20 a plate staple in most French bistros. Traditionally the dish not only calls for an old rooster (good luck finding one of those today), but involves marinating the bird in wine for several days and a long, slow braise to produce a delicious, rich, filling and nutritious meal. I have several recipes for coq au vin, all of which are a multi-day process, except for this one. It comes from the 10th edition of the Betty Crocker Better Homes  and Gardens New Cookbook. While the end result of this dish is not as rich and flavorful as a more traditional recipe, the prep and cooking time is significantly less and it could easily be put together and made for dinner in one night (It can be done, start to finish in less than 2 hours).

The Software
2 1/2 pounds of chicken parts, skin on
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 –18 pearl onions or shallots, peeled
1 1/4 cup red wine, preferably Burgundy or a lighter Pinot Noir
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1 cup thinly sliced carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 tablespoons parsley
Salt
Pepper

The Recipe
In a 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Don’t use a non-stick skillet for this.
Season the chicken and add to the pan, skin side down.
Note: You want about 1/2 inch of space between the pieces. If there is not enough space, brown the chicken in 2 batches.
Cook for approximately 8 minutes until it begins to brown and flip cooking for another 8 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pan, drain off the fat and reserve two tablespoons, being careful not to lose any fond on the pan.
Add the 2 tablespoons of fat back to the pan and reduce the heat to medium.
Add mushrooms, carrot and onions and sauté for about 5 minutes.
Add garlic, parsley, marjoram, thyme, bay leaf and wine and bring to a boil.
Once at a boil, add the chicken, reduce heat and simmer covered on medium-low until the chicken is done, about 35-40 minutes.
When chicken is cooked, remove from the pan to a plate and discard bay leaf. Leave the vegetables and wine in the pan. Increase heat to medium.
In a separate bowl combine the flour and butter and mash with the back of a spoon until a smooth paste is formed.
Whisk the paste to the sauce and stir until it begins to thicken and bubble.
Cook for one additional minute after it begins to bubble and taste. Add salt and pepper as needed.
Turn off the heat and return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan for 2 minutes.
Server over a bed of noodles using the remaining parsley and bacon as a garnish.

Notes
Most of this recipe is copied as is from its original source with a couple of modifications in techniques added by yours truly. The original recipe calls for chicken parts – breast, drumstick and thighs, but I would highly recommend only using thighs – they are fairly uniform, they are much harder to dry out and will produce the best flavor in this dish. I prefer shallots to pearl onions in this dish, as I like their flavor more. You need about 1 – 1/1/2 cups of sliced shallots for this dish. Traditionally this isn’t served over anything, but it works well with egg noodles, fettuccini, rice (really good over risotto) or mashed potatoes. The searing of the chicken could probably be done ahead of time and then everything thrown into a slow cooker – I have never tried it, but it is a braise, so it should work. There are a few techniques with this that I would love to try at some point so be on the lookout for the variations of this recipe some time in the future.

When Life Hands You Chicken Breast…

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I promised a recipe for the leftover chicken breast from the Chicken Soup recipe, so here it is – my take on my grandmother’s chicken salad, which, as much as I try, will always be better in my heart. The original recipe involved grating all of the veggies, using the chicken breast from making soup and never included bacon salt (wasn’t invented yet), balsamic vinegar or garlic powder (she used minced garlic, which, is too overpowering for this dish). She would have thought it weird that I would be writing a recipe for this, so I am sorry grandma. When I learned to make this from her, she never measured anything and neither have I until this point. It is all about tasting everything until it tastes right (or good, there is no right or wrong on this meal). Nothing that she made came with a recipe, if you wanted to learn to make something she made, it was by being in the kitchen with her and tasting and feeling as you went. Sadly, she passed a few years ago, but fortunately, just about all of her cooking wisdom was passed down to her children and grandchildren. This is also one of Mrs. Iron Chef’s favorites.

Chicken Salad

The Software
1 chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces
1 large carrot finely minced
1 large stalk celery, finely minced
2 tablespoon finely minced yellow onion
1 tablespoon bacon salt
1 tablespoons mustard powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Salt
Pepper
3 tablespoons mayo (see note)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (see note)

• Note – when I say tablespoon for the mayo and teaspoon for the mustard, I am not talking about the measurements, I am talking about the spoons you would find in your silverware drawer. I just take 3 big scoops of mayo and 1 big teaspoon of mustard. If I had to guess measurements, 1/2 cup of mayo, 1 1/2 tablespoons (the measurement) of mustard.

The Salad
In a large bowl, combine the chicken, carrot, celery and onion.

The Dressing
This is a salad, so you are making a salad dressing essentially. In a bowl, combine the mayo, mustard, mustard powder, bacon salt, garlic powder and balsamic vinegar. Mix until well incorporated. Taste it. Add any additional seasoning as needed.

The Final Product
Add the dressing and fold using a spatula. Taste it. There should be a subtle hint of heat from the onions and mustard. I usually will add a few grinds of black pepper and, if needed, some salt and fold that in. That is it, you are done. If for some reason you like more dressing, just make some more and add it in. This is pretty potent stuff and you are really looking more to coat everything rather than drown it.

To Serve
Serve it however you want – on a sandwich, salad, or my favorite, just out of the bowl with a spoon.

Final Notes
It took me longer to type this up than it did to make. This dish really shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to put together. You can not add the bacon salt (if you don’t put it in there, you might need to add salt later) if you choose. Of course if you don’t add the bacon salt, you could always add some real crumbled bacon to it, because, frankly, everything is better with bacon. The mustard powder is really essential for the right flavor, but if you don’t have any, and aren’t able to stop what you are doing and run out to get some, double the amount of Dijon. It won’t be the same, but it will still be edible. If you find yellow onions too strong, try substituting sweet or Walla Walla onions or even scallions. At various times, I have added in hot sauce, horse radish, worcestershire sauce, paprika and a bunch of other stuff I am probably forgetting. Feel free to play with your seasonings. Make it taste the way you want – grandma would just be happy that you are eating it.