I started developing this recipe when I took over hosting the annual family reunion. The chicken salad with grapes and capers was a tradition several decades in the making. Of course, I couldn’t resist putting my own spin on the dish by adding the aphrodisiacs of mustard and tarragon.
The real secret to the perfect tarragon chicken salad is using white meat chicken that was roast on the bone. It makes for a succulent, never-dry salad. I add herbs, lemon and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper to give the chicken the most full flavor possible. If you start with great chicken, the dish is practically foolproof. And it tastes even better the second day.
- 4 bone-in split chicken breasts (with skin)
- 1 small lemon thinly sliced into 8 rounds
- 1 tbsp various fresh herbs roughly chopped (such as sage, thyme, tarragon, rosemary or basil), optional
- salt and pepper
- 1 small sweet onion finely chopped
- 2 celery ribs finely chopped
- 1 tbsp capers drained
- 1 c grapes washed and sliced in half
- 1 tsp fresh tarragon finely chopped
- 3-5 tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Remove excess fat from each chicken breast and pat dry. Slide 2 lemon slices and assorted herbs (optional) under the skin of each breast. Season each breast with salt and pepper and place, skin side up, in a 9x13 baking dish.
- Cover pan with foil (try to make sure foil is not touching the skin) and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Remove foil and allow chicken to brown for an additional 15 minutes of cooking. (The chicken should be just cooked through and the bones will still have pink, even red. Once the bones are brown, the breast is overcooked.)
- Remove chicken from pan and allow it to rest until cool enough to touch.
- Remove and discard the chicken skin. Pull the meat from the bones into bite-sized pieces. (This is the only time-consuming part of the recipe!)
- Cool chicken completely before making the salad.
In a large bowl, combine chicken, onion, celery, capers, grapes, tarragon, 2 tbsp mayonnaise and 1 tbsp dijon. Mix ingredients and add additional mayo and mustard to taste. Season with salt before serving with a loaf of great bread, a green salad, (I like romaine), and a side of the season's finest fruit.
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