Morgan’s Recipe Series: Freedom Chicken Salad
MADAWASKA, Maine — You just got invited to that last minute Fourth of July potluck. What is fast, cheap and easy to make? How about some delicious Freedom Chicken Salad?
Let’s start with the chicken salad. After my grandmother, LeeMama died, various organizations she was part of brought food to all of us at her house. One group, Eastern Star even brought fried chicken. Lots of fried chicken. I mean, for a house full of four daughters and their husbands, nine grandchildren and their husbands, and seven great-grandchildren, the LeeMama clan couldn’t have gone hungry for days.
But after the second meal of fried chicken with no end to the poulet in sight, I decided to take it upon myself to make a fried chicken salad. For this recipe you can use just about any chicken (rotisserie, baked, boiled, canned … ) as long as it is deboned, and deskinned.
The longest part of making this salad was getting all of the chicken off the bones. But again, there was a ton of chicken. I deboned the chicken, and put it back in the fridge while I went to the wonderful Texas grocery store called HEB. There, I picked up some celery, an apple, some olive oil mayonnaise (something my mother suggested that I cannot get away from), and a package of dried cranberries. That’s it.
When I got home, I diced up the celery and added all the ingredients together including some I already had on hand, plus some signature LeeMama pecans. She always had about a dozen quart-sized bags of pecans on hand that she harvested from her trees in the front yard.
— 25 ounces of chicken (2 large cans)
— 4 stalks of celery
— 1 apple (I used a golden one)
— 1 small package of dried cranberries and blueberries or
— ½ cup Maine blueberries (a twist to the original recipe, bonus points if you pick them yourself)
— 1 cup of nuts (pecans or walnuts or both)
For the dressing:
— 2 cups of olive oil mayonnaise
— 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
— garlic salt and pepper to taste
I combined all the ingredients until it “looked right” as my Aunt Joni, Dobie, always says, and chilled it before serving. It is nearly impossible to mess this recipe up, and it is very simple and costs about $12 to make.
My family literally ate it up. The first night we were eating it, I looked up from the kitchen table and saw my Aunt Cheryl (who was leaving back for Houston the next day) staring at us as she ladled heaps of chicken salad into a plastic container and pressed down to pack in as much as possible.
Like a deer caught in headlights, she froze and asked “Do you mind if I take some home?”
There you have it. A recipe to please anyone at the Fourth of July potluck or even for your private family picnic at the lake or in your own backyard.
Morgan’s Recipe Series is an occasional column to bring recipes from all over the United States to the Valley for all sorts of holidays and family functions.
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