Deli-Style Chicken Salad with Grapes

When Optimus was about five months old, we visited my hometown of Washington, D.C. and lunched with my friend Madeline. From Capitol Hill, it is a short walk to Eastern Market and many delectable restaurants, not to mention the Capitol itself. We took a day to just be at the museums and downtown with our little LB, strategically planning in nap time and meals. Lunch was up to Madeline that day and we knew she would choose a good spot. That morning, she jotted down the name on a Post-It note. We looked at it, “Ted’s” with the address and her mobile number. Hmm, the name tells us nothing about the food, but we trust Madeline. The note was carefully stored in a zippered section of LB’s diaper bag and off we went to explore the Smithsonian. A few hours later, we enjoy a long walk from The National Mall to Ted’s where we met Madeline and that was when we had one of the most down-to-Earth meals at an upscale diner-style restaurant that I can remember. There will be a separate post with a review of Ted’s Bulletin (its official name. President Obama has eaten there too) and many photos of our dishes but this is about something Ted’s inspired. I ordered a chicken salad sandwich and a raspberry cream milkshake. That chicken salad sandwich was perfection!

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From that meal onward, I was determined to learn to make a lovely chicken salad with grapes so I could enjoy it back here in Ireland. And after some fiddling with how the chicken was cooked, I succeeded! Though the inclusion of grapes was inspired by Ted’s Bulletin, the recipe is all mine including elements from other chicken salads I use regularly (don’t worry, I’ll post about those soon) and some common kitchen sense. Here is the recipe I came up with:

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Deli-Style Chicken Salad with Grapes

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2-3/4 cup mayonnaise (you can substitute Greek yogurt)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dried dill
Zest from 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups halved red seedless grapes
3/4 cup chopped celery (I cut each stalk lengthwise, then slice it for small pieces)

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, place the raw chicken breasts with the caraway seeds, garlic salt, and enough water to cover them. Simmer the chicken until the internal temperature of the meat is 165F or 75C then carefully remove the meat from the water in such a way to leave most of the caraway seeds behind. Place the chicken breasts on a plate to cool. Discard the water. (If you’re short on time, you could use leftover cooked chicken or meat from a roast/rotisserie chicken).

2. While the chicken is simmering, use a large bowl or container to mix the mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, dried dill, and lemon zest. Once they are blended thoroughly, stir in the halves grapes and chopped celery. Cover and refrigerate until the chicken is cool enough to proceed.

3. Once the chicken has cooled enough to handle, chop it into grape-sized chunks and stir into the mayonnaise medley. Cover and refrigerate until time to serve.

4. Serve in sandwiches (lightly toast the bread to keep it from getting soggy or use thick Amish-style rolls) or atop a bed of greens. I like to garnish with whole red seedless grapes and a sprig of fresh dill.

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