They say that the simplest recipes are the test of a good cook. Chicken salad is deceptively straightforward, since it’s in the cooking method and subsequent flavor parings that a truly excellent rendition comes together. First up is poaching the chicken in gently simmering water. This ensures tender, not rubbery meat, which is crucial given that you’ll be using chicken breasts, not thighs. (Though those would also be delicious in a pinch.) Next, you’ll stir the cubed chicken together with just enough mayonnaise to bind, dill pickles for briny punch, shallot for kick, lemon juice for a fresh zing, and—an excellent wild card—fresh tarragon. It’s comforting, delicious, and original, just like a great chicken salad should be.

Adina Steiman
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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Place chicken and bay leaf in a wide, shallow saucepan with a lid and add enough water to cover. Lightly salt water. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 165°F, about 25 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board. Let cool for 30 minutes.

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  • Meanwhile, whisk mayonnaise, pickles, shallot, lemon juice, tarragon, parsley, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until combined.

  • Remove and discard skin and bones from chicken. Cut chicken into ½-inch pieces. Add to mayonnaise mixture and gently fold to combine.

Chef's Notes

Serving and Storing: Make your sandwich open-faced on toasted rye for a Scandinavian twist. Top it with a small handful of watercress or a slice or two of crispy bacon. Store chicken salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.