Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Almond Grape Roasted Chicken Salad

     A Great Tasting Chicken Salad!   
     Almond, Grape Roasted Chicken Salad was lunch entrée that customers really liked in the 1990's at a French café that I worked in as grillardin.  One taste and you will see why!

     Chicken Information
     Roasted Chicken Salad is made with roasted chicken.  Not every type of chicken is good for roasting.  When selecting a whole chicken for roasting there are several options and without knowing the facts some confusion can enter the decision making process.  There are 5 types of chicken that can be roasted and 2 types of chicken that are better off being slowly stewed or used for making soup.
     Capon is a specialty gourmet item that rather pricy.  Capon was originally used to make the chicken salad at the French Café many years ago, but in all honesty, it was a waste of good capon.  Capon is better suited for other fine dining recipes and a regular fryer chicken is perfect for making chicken salad.

     Chickens for Roasting, Poaching, Frying and Sauté:  
     Broiler Chickens:  6 to 8 weeks old - 2 1/2 pounds
     Fryer Chickens:  6 to 8 weeks old - 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 pounds
     Roaster Chickens:  Less than 8 months - 3 1/2 to 5 pounds
     Capon:  Castrated roosters - 6 to 8 pounds
     Rock Cornish Game Hen:  A small broiler-fryer - between 1 and 2 pounds

     Chickens for Stewing, Braising, Soup, Broth or Stock:  
     Stewing Chickens:  Hens over 10 months old - 5 to 7 pounds
     Rooster:  Male chickens over 10 months old - 6 to 8 pounds

     USDA inspection of chicken is mandatory.  Never purchase chicken that is not USDA inspected.  The USDA Stamp on a chicken package guarantees that the chicken was healthy and disease free.  
     According to the USDA, grading is voluntary.  Meatiness and healthy appearance are the main grading criteria.  Another grading factor is the condition of the carcass.  Broken bones, bruises or discoloration are a signs of mass produced chicken raised in deplorable conditions.  Healthy, meaty chicken with no defects gets the USDA Grade A Stamp.

     USDA Chicken Freshness Conditions:
     Fresh:  Never stored below 26ºF.  There is rarely any blood seepage in the package.  Quality butcher shops sell fresh chicken
     Frozen:  Stored between below 0ºF.  No specific labeling is required on frozen chicken.  Many grocery stores sell thawed frozen chicken as fresh chicken.  If blood seepage can be seen in the package then the chicken was frozen at some point in time.

     Kill Date - Sell By Date - Use By Date:
     Rarely does chicken have a Kill Date on the package like pork does.  Chicken usually has a Sell By Date and/or a Use By Date.  According to the USDA, the Sell By Date and Use By Date are both voluntary.
     The Use By Date should be only be used as a guideline.  Visual inspection should always be the final determining factor.  The visual appearance, smell and feel of the chicken takes precedence over the Use By Date Stamp.
     The Use By Date does not guarantee that chicken will not spoil before the Use By Date timespan elapses.  The Use By Date has to be disregarded if the chicken reached a temperature of over 41ºF for a short time while being handled or brought home from the grocery store.  What this means is that the chicken entered the temperature zone where pathogen growth occurs, so the suggested Use By Date is then null and void.  The chicken will then have to be visually inspected each day till it is used.
     Fresh Chicken or thawed frozen chicken that is stored below 41ºF in a refrigerator can usually be kept fresh for up to 7 days like any perishable food.  Restaurants usually date stamp fresh or thawed chicken at the time of delivery or thawing and the service date is 7 days.  The exception is if the Use By Date Stamp is still valid for fresh chicken.  No matter what, daily inspections still have to be done as part of quality assurance.
     Optimally, Fresh chicken or thawed frozen chicken should be cooked within 2 to 3 days after purchasing or thawing, in order to maintain the highest quality.      
     If the Use By State Stamp expires while the chicken is frozen, just disregard the date stamp.  Continuously frozen chicken can be stored indefinitely.  The spoilage time clock begins only when the chicken is thawed.

     A High Volume Chicken Mill Bird Or Organic Free Range Chicken?
     Grocery stores and cheap food distributors mainly sell mass produced Cornish Chicken Cross Breeds that reach a heavy weight in a very short time span with the addition of growth hormones.  Many of the mass produced chickens are not exactly healthy.  The full flavor profile of the chicken meat never develops.  Folks that complain about how chicken does not taste as good as it did several years ago now know why.
     If you seek good old fashioned rich tasting chicken meat, then do not purchase mass produced chicken!  The better choice is drug free organic free range chicken.  Also, avoid Cornish Chicken Crossbreeds that are the mainstay for mass production.  Select Heritage Chicken Breeds instead.
    The USDA does regulate the labeling of Organic Chicken and Free Range Chicken.  Free Range Chicken means that the chickens can roam around outdoors, instead of being bunched up in a high volume chicken mill.  Organic means the chicken is raised by organic natural means and the feed is not man made.  Drug Free, Hormone Free or Antibiotic Free labels need no explanation.
     Sustainable small local organic farms usually offer higher quality Free Range Organic Chicken than what the large corporate farms provide.  Often the small local farms also feature Heritage Chicken Breeds.  If you value quality, then Organic Free Range Chicken is the direction to go when selecting a good chicken for roasting.       

     Almond Grape Roasted Chicken Salad:
     This recipe yields 3 portions.  (About 2 1/2 cups) 
     *Only the roasted breast meat is used to make this salad.  The rest of the chicken can be eaten as is or used to make any number of recipes.
     *For this recipe, toast the sliced almonds ahead of time in a 300ºF oven till they are a light tan color.
     Step 1:  Season 1 whole 2 1/2 pound chicken with sea salt and black pepper.
     Place the chicken on a roasting rack on a roasting pan.
     Roast the chicken in a 325ºF oven, till it is fully cooked.  (165ºF for 15 seconds in the center of the thigh meat closest to the breast section, or when the leg can easily be twisted and torn off.) 
     Step 2:  Allow the roasted chicken cool to room temperature.  
     Remove all of the white breast meat from the chicken.  (Remove the skin and bones.  There should be about 10 ounces of boneless breast meat.)
     Chill the chicken breast meat in a refrigerator.  
     Step 3:  Cut the chicken breast meat into large bite size diced pieces.   
     Place the diced chicken in a mixing bowl. 
     Step 4:  Add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped bermuda onion.
     Add 3 tablespoons of finely chopped celery.
     Add 1 chopped green onion.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of chopped fresh dill weed.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 tablespoons of toasted sliced almonds.
     Add 1/2 cup of red seedless grapes that are cut in half. 
     Step 5:  Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of sour cream.
     Add just enough mayonnaise to bind the ingredients together, while gently mixing the ingredients together.
     Chill the almond grape chicken salad in a refrigerator for one hour, so the flavors meld. 

     Almond Grape Roasted Chicken Salad Presentation:
     Place a small bed of mixed baby lettuce on one half of a plate.  
     Garnish the lettuce with julienne carrot strips.
     Mound the chicken salad on the lettuce.
     Garnish the plate with peeled orange slices. 
     Place 1 small bunch of red grapes on the plate.
     Place a few olive oil brushed French bread toast points on the plate. 

     This is a very tasty chicken salad that borders upon being gourmet! 

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