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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Irish Chicken Salad Sandwich on Soda Bread



Summertime always seems like the perfect time for chicken salad. It is a medium that offers endless possibilities for creativity to bring an unusual gourmet touch to a lunch or picnic. However, after a series of more innovative chicken salads, I found myself craving something a little closer to traditional, but not so traditional as to be boring. In that spirit, the idea of importing the flavor combinations from my husband's traditional Irish soda bread was born.

My husband brought into our marriage a number of recipes that quickly became woven into the fabric of our new family's traditions. One of them is his delightful recipe for Irish soda bread. This recipe comes down to my husband from his father's mom, who grew up on an Irish farm in County Cavan, Ireland. Caraway brings a noteworthy flavor that is uncommon in the American palate, yet its potential savory character is rounded out with the earthy sweetness of raisins. Although we always celebrate St. Patrick's Day with this traditional family recipe, we always find it a delightful treat year round.

The other day I found myself hankering for chicken salad, but wanting to try something new. My curry & thyme chicken salad is a classic in our house, but I had recently made it. I had a taste for a mostly traditional salad with just a little something different. I pondered my chicken salad urges while munching thoughtfully on a warm piece of my husband's Irish soda bread. And of course, inspiration was right in front of me. Or, more accurately, right in my mouth.



With a focus on caraway, a relatively unusual spice in the American diet, I think this post is perfect for the new rules for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Dil Se.


About Caraway

The small rice-shaped caraway "seeds" are actually not seeds at all: they are fruits. These dried fruits produce a pleasant anise flavor. They are sometimes used in baking--when making Irish soda bread or traditional rye bread. Because of the properties of the essential oils within the fruits, using caraway in breads tends to produce denser breads.

Caraway may have been in use as a flavor agent as early as the stone age in southern Europe. In Roman times, the roots of this plant were used to make bread fed to Roman soldiers from Julius Caesar on down.

In folklore, caraway prevented fickleness and wandering attention. This made the plant popular for everything from love potions (to claim that certain someone's undivided attention) to chicken feed (to keep those quirky chickens from absent-mindedly wandering off).

Irish Chicken Salad

By the Skinny Gourmet (E. McDonnell)

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon anise seeds
1 Tablespoon finely chopped sweet yellow onion or shallot
3 Tablespoons raisins
1/2 granny smith apple, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
16 oz (12 ounces cooked) chicken breast
1/4 cup mayo plus 1-3 Tablespoons to preference
salt and pepper


Cook chicken breasts until cooked through. I prefer to grill them, but you may use whatever cooking method you prefer. Allow to cool completely and then cut into half inch dice.

Finely dice half a granny smith apple. Finely chop celery and onion (or shallot if you prefer a lighter onion taste). Combine salt, pepper, cumin, anise, caraway and mayo. Mix to combine. Stir together seasoned mayo with raisins, apple, celery, and chicken breast. I find tastes for the amount of mayo in chicken salad vary widely, so add more mayo gradually until you reach the level you prefer. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference.

Serve on Irish Soda Bread or sourdough with (optional) leaf lettuce and tomatoes.

12 comments:

Helene said...

Love the picture. Looks great. My 1st time visiting and I will be back.

Divya Vikram said...

Havent heard of soda bread..Looks good n healthy..Thanks for the info on caraway too..And am glad u sent this for WHB.

Grace said...

i knew i was a fan of irish accents, and now i'm a fan of their chicken salad too--it sounds perfect! :)

Culinarywannabe said...

This sounds delicious right now (lunch time!). I love the apples and raisins - makes it so refreshing. And you sound like a lucky girl to have inherited such great family recipes! All I got was an old corn muffin recipe from an ancient jiffy box!

Kalyn said...

Sounds very interesting. I didn't know that caraway seeds were actually a fruit, but I do like them. This is a nice way to use them.

Kevin said...

Those chicken salad sandwiches look really tasty! I like the use of the soda bread.

Jude said...

Awesome recipe and info about caraway. I had no idea they were fruits.
Always great to read posts from other Chicago bloggers!

Dawn said...

Oh my gosh, what a perfect idea to put chicken salad on soda bread! You are a genius!!! I love this.

Sharona May said...

Wow that looks like one great sandwich.

Erin @ The Skinny Gourmet said...

Helene: Thanks for visiting. I always love to hear that folks are looking forward to coming back!

Divya: Soda bread is fantastic, tempting without being so cloyingly sweet that it is a dessert.

Grace: Glad it sounds good to you!

Culinary: Sorry your inherited recipes were less than you might have liked. On the other hand, one of my treasured "family" recipes is the one for Thanksgiving green bean casserole that comes from a canister of french fried onions. But I figure those companies have all the motivation to search for THE best recipe.

Kalyn and Jude: it surprised the heck out of me too.

Kevin and Dawn: Soda bread makes a great base for a chicken salad sandwich, whether it is soda-bread inspired or another variety

PaniniKathy said...

I don't know if they still make it or not, but I had a sandwich just like this at Serendipity in NYC maybe 10 years ago and loved it! I wasn't sure I would like the soda bread at first, but it was really tasty. Glad to see this recipe so I can have it again!

Debbie said...

Wow! This looks really great. I will definitely have to give it a try. I make soda bread several times a year so this will be a perfect addition.

Come join me for Crock Pot Wednesday whenever you can.

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